Worried about machine downtime? To keep running at maximum efficiency, machine shops need to implement robust production management plans of which effective tool management systems form a key component.

Few things kill the profitability of a machine shop faster than machine downtime. By planning properly, however, prolonged incidences of downtime can be kept to a bare minimum. A well-managed tooling inventory means you can find the right tool in the right place, at the right time, to carry-out those critical jobs.

Traditional Tool Management

Machine shops who rely on such systems are more likely to find themselves in sticky situations. Because of glitches in these cumbersome and old-fashioned methods, an incoming shift might find that the cutters and inserts it needs for its critical work are worn-out, missing or in the wrong place—leading to profit-killing downtime while the appropriate tools are sourced. To prevent this problem, the temptation might be to stock more tools than are needed, but this ties-up capital that could be more usefully employed elsewhere.

Automate Tool Management: Embrace new technologies

These issues can be eliminated using cloud-based, automated tool management systems. Not only do these systems help to ensure the smooth running of your machine shop, they will also generate data that will enable owners and managers to take informed decisions about their tooling inventory, the size of their workforce and their budgets.

Tool management systems are widely used in large machine shops, but these intuitive and proven solutions are now affordable for smaller shops, too. CRIBWISE, for instance, is modular, customisable, and easy to integrate, and grants machine shops of all sizes complete control over tooling inventory with minimal effort and expense. The software eliminates administrative hassles, eradicates production delays, and cuts excessive – often hidden – expenditure.

Check and adjust

Managing tools using CRIBWISE and hardware such as vending machines improve processes for the team. On-hand stock can be checked, and new purchase orders generated automatically to create a seamless, just-in-time system. This will reduce the stress (and costs) associated with running out of a vital tool just as it is needed and solves the problems of holding too much inventory.

Streamline your processes

The impact of automated tool management systems is even more significant when used as part of a lean production management plan. Operations can be scrutinised so that any areas of waste can be identified.  If a task costs money to carry out and adds no value to the process, it can be eliminated. This not only speeds-up work, it also reduces labour costs and will help to keep deliveries accurate and on time. A streamlined process also minimises the need for back-up stocks and work-in-process inventories to be held.

Cutting inefficiency

Every machine shop is different in terms of their equipment, their workforce, the processes they undertake and their customers. All shops, however, will benefit from regular operational reviews so that any inefficiencies in current systems can be identified and removed.

Fortunately, the latest tool management systems are now able to do much of this leg work, enabling machine shops to do what they do best—getting parts out their doors quickly and efficiently.  Even if introducing a new tool management system is impractical at the current time, preparing for one is a step in the right direction.

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