If you own or manage a computer numerical control (CNC) machine shop, then you know that high-performance cutting tools are expensive to buy. You might not be aware of some of the costs involved with storing these tools or why you should think about a highly efficient tool crib to protect your assets.

An out-of-control tool inventory is a more common and costly problem than many machine shops realise. Fortunately, through the use of cost-effective and easy-to-use cloud-based tool-management software solutions, it is now relatively straightforward to implement a highly efficient tool crib that will save you both time and money and will boost your bottom line.

To help you on your journey, let’s first layout some best practices for tool-crib management.

What is a tool crib?

A tool crib should be employed to manage every speciality tool used at your shop, and it might require a significant amount of space to organise and manage effectively. Ideally that space would be in a designated area of a storeroom, so the tools can be properly organised, or they could be kept in dedicated vending-style machines, the benefits of which we will touch-on in a later blog. An individual, or even a team of people, will likely be needed to manage the tool crib—although much of this work can be automated through the tool-management software.

  1. Tracking a tool

Once the tool crib itself is established, item numbers will need to be set-up for each of the CNC machine tools. A location for the tools can then be assigned and the available inventory can be monitored. The demand for tools, when they will be needed and for what job, and their issuing to operatives, can all be tracked through the system. As such, you will know where the tools should be, who should have them, and when they should be returned to the tool crib.

  1. Assigning a job

The tools required for a job can be listed on the work order so that they can be reserved—preventing them from being used on another job. When the work order is released by the planner, the tools appear on a list together with other materials needed so that they can be held until everything is available.

  1. Returning the tool

After the job is completed, the tool is returned to the tool crib so it can be re-used. If the tool is not returned as expected, the assigned operative can be identified easily and contacted to find out what happened to it. Returned tools can be inspected for wear, and then assigned for re-use, or can re-ordered if needs be. It can then be set as on-hand inventory in the system.

Keep it simple and gain efficiency 

The use of cloud-based tool-management software solutions can make the process much easier and reduces the challenges in a machine shop that you’ll be familiar with such as:

– 20% of an operator’s time is spent looking for tools

– 20-30% extra time is spent administering orders because of delays from missing-tools

Establishing a world-class tool crib can take time to set-up using conventional methods. But CRIBWISE is simple and easy to implement to help you integrate a tool crib management solution. Don’t take our word for it, see what savings others made by reading these success stories.