Stressed operator, how long do setups take?
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    Default Stressed operator, how long do setups take?

    ...First 2 paragraphs are more of a rant on my problems at work, but offer insight... Acutally probably the whole thing... I wanted to know how long a setup can take but I ended up ranting while trying to explain why things take me so long. A simple setup that I think should take me 20-30 minutes takes hours. Time quotas really bother me, because I feel like their made up, unrealistic numbers.

    I think I'm supposed to be an operator/machinist in training for a while now... Maybe not... I haven't been taught much on how to program the machine at all, it feels like. It doesn't help we run the same parts and the parts run forever. Guy has like 20 years and back when he was trying to teach me to program, he was just whipping out out numbers from his head, while I need to figure out how to even process it and a calculator to do the math. Being told that it doesn't require any math. (some variation of that) I've done maybe 2 very simple programs and he did about 3 essentially for me. Shop runs simple parts, that can be programmed at machine. I've been questioning my future long before I was supposedly going to be the new mill guy. (Working my way up from temp position, been 4 years and 1+month now)

    Like they wanted this part up and running right away, but there was no program, but I wasn't told that until after I was trying to program it myself for a while already. So then I go get the guy who's been teaching me to do it, because he's way faster. One setup I was loading it up and looking into the program and went up front to ask how much I can edit the program, because it needed some serious work. (was missing a bunch of processes) Then he programs it for me, but it's not right as there is the usual miscommunication I get with people. So there I am trying to fix it and he's maybe back to the machine 1-2 more times to get that straightened out... Reusing cut jaws that are not flat and hammering the heck out of those fighting to get them as flat as possible...

    Generally setups are just load the program, tooling, vise, jaws, offsets... Think I listed everything. Parts are simple, but I can spend 2~ hrs doing this. Clock in on the job, look at the print, find program, or find tools first. The order I do thing in is a bit of a mess. Tooling is always a disaster, running around shop looking for the holder, then tool, then collet, then insets... It's usually drills and finding a collet that fits, but has been other things. Which drill looks the best, because they're all beat to heck. What type of collet can I find that will fit this and then where is a holder for this type of collet. Oh, this drill has 0.010" runout? rinse and repeat... We run endmills with 0.002" TIR but have seen way worse. Once I get tooling sorted, I get a vice if it's not already on, indicate it in, run around looking for the precut jaws, find out they're not cut straight, so indicate to the jaws, make sure they're flat. Which jaw is the front or back? Who knows.

    Set offsets, which are done wrong half the time, either something with Z and how it was programmed or I set my part stops wrong. Then the fun of trying to work everything in. Something that I haven't mentioned yet is that I'm probably one of the only people in shop that tries to do any kind of preventative maintenance. A master machinist quit a long time ago and it's been guy after guy (now my shot I guess) A machine will be woken up and used once every once in a while (this particular one has been sitting over a year) then left to literally rust covered in chips. We have some Blazer coolant and other than topping up the machines and not using too much because it's expensive, we don't give it any care, so it's all nasty and oily. I'm one of the only people that I can assume is "wasting time" doing such tasks. So our machines, tools, vise, jaws are covered in crap and other people don't clean it and just slap that together. I'll take some scotchbright and wd-40 because that's what we got and scrub the scum off stuff before assembling. Dig out chips of the soft jaws. Vise isn't sitting flat because the table is beat.

    Been working on these parts for the last 2+ weeks 800qty. Haven't had enough time to myself to scratch my ass. I got 2 ops setup on the lathe. 1st op needed intervention every 30seconds and ran about 1m 20s, 2nd op was 30 sec total run time, but had to debur. Was a coolant off, run lathe with door open type of job, small parts, leaning on the machine at the ready. Got it on the mill, program has the wrong numbers, I'll just compensate with a Y offset. I complained about the tool dulling and deflecting more and making more burs. Had a super high feed for that size of tool and DOC. Fast run time as well. Now I get to debur and it's taking forever. Some are easy, some are extra tedious. I get to sit at a desk with my face an inch away from a magnifying glass and debur them with a hobby knife. While co-workers are jokingly asking me about being done. I'm doing about 100 a day, which is over the quota, but all other ops smoked the quota. My back has been hurting since the first lathe op.

    Deep breaths,
    Higgins909

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    Maybe it's time for a move... That doesn't sound like a very good place to work. If they want faster setups they should work on optimizing/streamlining their tooling and setup materials. One easy example would be to mark the jaws "Front" and "Rear" - I don't understand why that isn't done already if it's causing confusion. You can do it yourself in a minute or two with a die grinder and a small ball burr.

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    I understand your situation. I have been here, it doesn't end but it gets much better - YOU have to make it happen.

    It would seem your in the place I was twenty years ago.

    Here's the take away from my short lecture below - You can only improve yourself.


    Three things you wrote stand out:
    "The order I do thing in is a bit of a mess."
    Fix that! Have a set sequence and stick to it, make small adjustments until you have a good system and stick to it.

    Three things: Organization, Consistency, Quality. Speed can only come from these three things.

    "I haven't been taught much on how to program the machine at all, it feels like."
    INEXCUSABLE - I wish I had YouTube back when - EVERYTHING you need to understand is there.

    "..we run the same parts and the parts run forever."
    There is no excuse you cant reach into a filing cabinet and there is a folder with everything there. Printout of program, tool list, setup sheet, sketch/drawing and or pictures of the setup. Are you saying you have to write the code every time for the same job? If so, that's just stupid. Control memory, punch tape, floppy disk, thumb drive, SSD card, ethernet. These places are where a program can be stored.

    Watch the code, watch the machine. Feed hold, what is happening in the next block, visualize it then confirm with cycle start.

    Do you use a common tool offset for all tools? This simple thing can save hours.

    These things you can do for you to improve and LEARN.

    There is so much more but this is a start. It sounds like your in a crappy environment - Been there. Do not expect help, do not expect change.

    YOU are the captain of YOUR ship, master it, command it, navigate thru where you are!

    Poorly maintained tools and machines cost money and time. It would seem your in a place where people just don't care. Perhaps one day you can change that, perhaps it is impossible. Again I stress - Improve you first! Because there may come a day where an opportunity to work in a better environment comes and you want to be prepared. Be selfish, be ready!

    And the math thing, I struggle with dyscalculia, don't be embarrassed you need a calculator. People need eyeglasses, its the same thing. Pencil and paper, sharpie on the vice top and glass monitor screen, palm of your hand - whatever it takes. You don't have to be fast at it but it has to be correct!

    There goes my two hours - Now quit sniveling and get to work, make us proud!

    Youth ages, immaturity outgrown, ignorance educated, drunkenness sobered. Stupid, stupid lasts forever.
    ― Aristophanes

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    "Guy has like 20 years"
    It likely didn't take him 20 years to develope a system of doing things that works, as mentioned above, that is one of the first things you need. I atack all jobs in an order that is as "the same" as possible, all jobs. Develope a system, order, that you do things, it will evolve some over time but keep it the same as you can just like so many things in your life. For instance, lets say you run in the restroom, plop your ass on the crapper, push real hard, then take down your pants, now you only did one thing out of order but you have complicated the hell out of a simple job, machinine set ups can be very similar. Make a list of the order of things, leave spaces between steps so you can add or reorder them until it starts working, follow the list step by step until you have it, not the order you remember them in, follow the list.

    Practice writing programs at home without all the pressure and distraction of the shop, make a simple part drawing, write a program, find someone to check it, perhaps post it here and someone will help.

    Start slow, be methodical, make sure you you are doing things in a consistant order, make sure the parts are as right as possible and as consistant as possible, I try to hold all tollerances within half or less than allowed with the thinking that they may come back in six months needing some alteration that wasn't on the original drawing and it is much more fun if they are all about the same.

    I didn't say anything new, just saying it again, consistancy and quality, speed will come along on its own once these others have been achieved. Rushing the speed will only add to the frustration.

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    Hi Higgins909:
    There are two things that strike me immediately when I read through your original post:
    The first thing is that you are putting yourself (or being put) under enormous pressure to deal with something you're not very good at yet.

    This is toxic...if half your brain is panicking you cannot possibly think clearly enough to do this kind of work, and that is dangerous as Hell, for you, for your co-workers, for the machines and for the job.
    This needs to stop...in your current state you're a menace, and you shouldn't be around machines that can kill you if you don't have your shit together.
    Whose fault it is is totally immaterial...recognize the risk and find a way to make it go away.

    The second thing is that the tone of your post screams to me that you have to take a hard look at yourself and ask if you're really suited by temperament and personality for this kind of work.
    Some people are and some people aren't...this is not a criticism or a slur...I can't play a guitar, even though I love to hear a master doing their thing.
    I just don't have the hand-brain coordination to make it go for me.

    I certainly don't think less of myself for lacking that talent...I have others that I can be justifiably proud of.
    You need to find what you can be good at.

    So sit down with yourself and ask yourself...do I LOVE this or do I HATE this (not the asshole boss...the actual work).
    If you're honest with yourself, you will know.

    If you decide you love it, you will have to find a way to get good at it, and that may take lots of work if your desire exceeds your natural talent.
    You get to make that choice.

    On a last note...if what you've written is accurate, your place of work is a shithole and I wouldn't stay there for a morning before I rolled my toolbox back out and told the boss man to go fuck himself.
    Nobody needs to work in a dump with all expectations and no resources.
    If what you say is true, your boss is an abusive fucker who doesn't deserve your effort.

    Cheers

    Marcus
    Implant Mechanix • Design & Innovation > HOME
    Vancouver Wire EDM -- Wire EDM Machining

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    I agree with all the responses, but especially with eKretz.......if they will not let you do things the correct way, which will save, in the long run, thousands of dollars in time and tooling, then it may be time to find something else. Are they actually telling you to not waste time doing this or that? Or can you actually make improvements without being bothered?

    I've seen these kinds of shops, and it's not a good environment for anyone.

    When I was in trade school, one of the instructors started his apprenticeship in the late 1930's and the other one in the early 1940's and they had good advice...they both said 'take your time to learn the correct way, and once you learn, then you can work on speed (all the while doing it in a safe manner)' That was the best advice I ever received.

    Just recently I analyzed an electronics company (pcb manufacturer and all the assemblies) and they do business with some big customers throughout the world. I concluded to them that with the correct plant layout and some other investment, they could put out twice what they do now, with the same number of plant floor employees and scrap could be mostly eliminated, and also office staff could be reduced by 40% (right now the office staff to plant floor ratio is 1:1). They concluded that they couldn't justify the investment.

    My advice to you: if they don't mind you taking the time doing improvements, then just do it and they will see the cost savings in the end. If they don't want you 'wasting your time' doing those improvements, then move on because more than likely they will never change.

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    Sounds like you give a shit and maybe your employer doesn’t. That’s something that people pretty much bring with them in their character. Hard or impossible to teach. Might want to start looking around for a new job where you can fit in better and be happy.

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    As the saying goes "it's a trap"!

    These kinds of places will feed off your best efforts and give nothing in return. While it is always possible to improve oneself and work harder/smarter, you gotta ask whether your environment is supporting you or just sucking the energy out of you. While lots of people are proponents of the school of hard knocks, fact is learning in a supportive, organized and professional environment is just much faster and less stressful. Once you leave your current situation for one that has those positive qualities, you'll kick yourself for not making the move sooner. Plus, trying different shops early in your career is a good way to get broad experience. None of this is specific to the machining trade BTW.

    That said, the best time to look for a new job is while you still have the old one!

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    there are no problems

    only opportunities

    either you step up to the plate and handle it or you run

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    I have heard of guys working at more than one shop at a time while deciding one over the other or sometimes to just start their own and do it their own way

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    Yeah... Ya'll are probably right. Problem is I didn't have much option pre covid. I might have some options in 2-3 months, but it would be a step down, but hopefully a major step back in stress. I am normally drained after work. Deburring parts is usually so boring and puts me to sleep... I've got a possible copy of the manual for this mill. But haven't been in the mood for various reasons. Before I was told I was going to be running the Mazak Mill 510c Nexus controller, I had been on the lathes almost exclusively 2 years. One year I was trying to learn a Mitsubishi LT-350 on and off because of how I still run other machines. I don't always sit in one spot so it's hard to get opportunity to actually learn. For now I'm the only person that can really do any kind of programming on it.

    I think I would actually love running my own shop to an extent. But that's a far fetched dream. I'm an introvert so customers would be hard for me. I think machining is really cool, but 90%~ of things I get to do are not. If I was going to become a machinist, I wanted it to happen here... Not quite sure why ATM. I know shops operate in different fashions. I like this style, but wish the things I talked about in OP were fixed. I wanted to talk to my boss after work, so I could figure out what I wanted to do this weekend, but being shy, I didn't want to go up to the offices...

    Early when I was on the lathe, lathe master machinist would tell me about how the bosses are asking him why I'm takin so long. All I really remember is that the run time was right at the quoted time and then you add in "human interaction" as I call it and insert swaps, working it back in. It then takes longer. They really never talk to me at all. The last time one of them really talked to me was when I was being told about running the mill. I got to overhear a conversation that literally took place in front of me and it made my question how I was really doing as they never tell me. But it's been something I've wanted to know.

    The lathe is g-code with a horrible conversational and the mill is a good conversational with g-code. The mill has no notes but the lathe has notes if it's a program I made or tweaked the heck out of. As detailed notes as I can. Because the mill is conversational, I would have to learn what I can from the book and then execute at work. The lathe's g-code is kind of similar to a HAAS lathe, but I really think the g-code is kind of messed up on it. I've learned the basics several times, but haven't learned the more intermediate stuff. Threads and calculating chamfers are something I still have yet to learn. We do a lot of NPT. Non monotonic shape? I'm not sure how. I thought I would try to learn CAD/CAM. I've had Fusion 360 for a while and a 3Dprinter, but printing hasn't gone that well and it's hard to come up with stuff to design then print. But shop has Mastercam and not Fusion360. Which only the last mill man that I seem to have replaced ever used.

    I don't know if I can really do anything to change the shop. ...I guess I need to figure out what I want to do with this.

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    "I think I would actually love running my own shop to an extent. But that's a far fetched dream. I'm an introvert so customers would be hard for me."

    If it was easy everybody would do it

    I don't think anyone here suggested you change the shop, just yourself, be the best you, you can be, the shop may follow or you may move on but I would go up to the offices and talk to the boss. It has been said that your better off being sorry for what you have done than what you didn't do.

    I have been without employees for a few years now, a few things I have noticed, I have 3 machines that I have been running all that time without a change to their programs, offsets, or tooling, now this likely means a few things. I could be running them faster but I don't need to and not messing with them is worth something. I have had several good people over the years but they were changing programs when offsets needed changed, they were changing offsets when fixtures needed cleaned before install, they were changing and fighting things that never would have been a problem had they slowed down a bit not only when setting up a job but also when tearing it down. I cringe a bit when you are telling us about all the program changes but I'm not there, they may need it.

    In the end it really is all about what you want to do and how you choose to do it.

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    QT: [I don't know if I can really do anything to change the shop. ...I guess I need to figure out what I want to do with this.]

    If you enjoy the money, not making scrap, getting along with people and the boss is not cruel to you you might try to stick it out.

    If the job is making life unbearable walk if there is another job to be had.

    Work is work, so not always pleasurable, Every job has a getting used to.

    The shop with searching for tools seems disorganized but the guys/you can't do a whole lot about that. Making waves if the managers or bosses don't know much is difficult. Keep your image good so you might walk with a good letter or a tools needed list.

    As an operator, you might keep a notebook and write down notes about each jobs problems or tools needed in your tool box notebook..yes if you such time to do that. Some times it is good to simply know how long a drill or tool lasts on a given job.

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    You can pendant program there’s no doubt about it, download the prog onto a usb, take it home and dissect it with a cad/cam prog so every step is in your head, run it on the simulator, see what does what, it’s a sort of self education, I’ve done it learning to use fanc robodrills and hass in work, it really helped
    Ok stuff was simple, tensile test pieces and stuff, also the consumable suppliers can be invaluable, I leaned on sandvick rep a lot, cut machine time by 30%,
    Win
    Mark

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    Fuck that place and maybe fuck that field of work all together. Where do you see yourself going with it? When you're an old fart?

    Find something that makes more money and has longevity, room for growth etc in it. Buy a cnc for your garage to use when you want.

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    I've worked at places like that...it's hell on the whole body. Fortunately I was able to take over and fix the issues. I got out of there as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Be comforted in the fact that most shops aren't like that. They may have their quirks but not a total clusterfuck like you are in.

    In not so many words, time to go out to pasture and find a greener field.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Winn View Post
    there are no problems

    only opportunities

    either you step up to the plate and handle it or you run
    That place sounds to me, like a great 'opportunity' to run far away, fast!

    I gotta agree with what was said earlier, both about your level of care vs. the employer's, and that there is really no excuse at all for not having these programs that are repeat jobs, stuck on a hard drive, floppy disk, or whatever. A set up sheet, whether it's a part in a vise sitting on a parallel bar up against an end stop, or a custom carved multi-part fixture, will always go a long ways towards something resembling repeatable results.

    By the time a run is done the first time, I figure it's safe to say you should have maybe three different versions of a "Good" running program in hand, and be spitting parts out to the point they want you to have a helper to deburr them or automate that.

    What else besides 2 thou runout? High Speed Steel regrinds of different sizes to save a nickel? Man, that's just shit!

    Your Trainer. He using you to look good? I had one of those. Long time experience, same day over and over for 10-12 years! Useless tit. Ran every job dead slow, cut more air than metal with HUGE lead in arcs and such, and didn't pass along, or actively denied knowledge of, anything that might make someone else look useful. Knowledge was like treasure, he buried as much of it as he could before he left! <spit>

    Beating vise jaws to straighten them? Ewww.... I worked with a mixed bag of manual machine shop leftovers, years worth, and none of it was 'that' beat up. Ugh.

    Work also had a seat of GibbsCam, and they sent a fair few of us off to a couple days of class time with one of their Rep's, to get us up to speed. I was expected to program my own parts and run them, did very little finger-code, but sure learned to read the stuff as a result of having to split down huge files into pieces that would fit in the machines memory, and the like.

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    You all seem to see go find a better shop.
    I see much different here in the OP's post.
    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    You all seem to see go find a better shop.
    I see much different here in the OP's post.
    Bob
    I guess that would depend a LOT on how willing the shop was to invest a little in tooling and training.

    By the description, not so much...

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    We have all worked in hell holes sometime.Get out if possible.If not get smart and strong.Find out who will screw you and who you can trust.Smile and avoid those that screw you.Use your cell phone to take pictures of your set ups. Make a copy of the part drawing and write a step by step set of notes of EXACTLY HOW YOU WILL DO IT NEXT TIME and every little trick that you do to make the job run better even simple things like "Caution the chips from this drill gets tangled with the coolant spout" Every job no matter how simple will have a a few special screws or shims or altered inserts that you will make .Keep this stuf together in YOUR TOOL BOX along with your drawing and notes.Hide it.Act like you own it. It sounds like you are in a tuf spot. Do whatever you need to survive but don't do anybody wrong I am79 years old and I make and sell some very simple products on lineI.I make these in batches of 50 or so. I have 10 pages of notes and pictures that I have printed from my cell camera showing exactly what insert in what tool .how far the part is sticking out of the chuck and rpm and feed rate ect. ect.. Each time I make a batch ,I scratch out and add new and better processes..Edwin Dirnbeck


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