4 Ways to Save Money, Extend Tooling Life and Get More from Your Tools

4 Ways to Save Money, Extend Tooling Life and Get More from Your Tools

4 Ways to Save Money, Extend Tooling Life and Get More from Your Tools

Machine shops around the country are competing to take your business. So, what can you do to gain a competitive edge?

Your company’s profitability is directly related to its level of productivity and efficiency. While much of that is dependent on the efficacy of your employees and your processes, it’s important to remember that in the world of manufacturing, a worker is only as good as his or her tools. An idle machine becomes overhead when tooling components must be changed out due to early wear and tear or damage to the equipment itself.

Whether the tools of the trade include power tools, lathes or CNC machines, their effectiveness depends on proper usage and regular maintenance of cutting tools such as end mills, annular cutters and saw blades. If you’re experiencing premature tool failure, we have some tips on how you can save money by getting the most out of your tooling and machinery.

Related: The Guide to Choosing the Right Saw Blades for Optimum Productivity.

1. Maintain Your Tools and Equipment Regularly

Don’t wait until your tools require servicing to make repairs. Similarly, don’t rely on your advanced tooling to remind you to perform routine maintenance. Doing so leads to unnecessary downtime that can cost your company thousands, and oftentimes the servicing is performed too late. Instead, create a maintenance schedule that outlines change-out schedules, lubrication schedules or replacement timelines. Be sure to document these activities so that all employees, regardless of shift, know exactly where each tool or machine is on their maintenance schedule requirements. Additionally, these documents can identify recurrent machine failures or needs, helping you improve future machine and tooling reliability.
Check out these tips from industry leading cutting tools suppliers on getting more out of your cutting tools.

a. Stop band saw blade breakage
New band saw blades have razor sharp tooth tips. To withstand the cutting pressures used in band sawing and avoid microscopic damage, the tooth tip must be honed to a micro-fine radius. To avoid blade failure and get the most out of your new band saw blade, follow these blade break-in tips from Lenox Tools:

  • Choose the proper band speed for material to be cut
  • Reduce the feed rate/force control to 20-50% of normal cutting rate
  • Begin the first cut, and once teeth form a chip you can slightly increase feed rate
  • Make gradual increases in feed rate/force until normal cutting rate is established
  • If chatter or vibration occur, make slight adjustments
  • Once blade is broken in, feel free to use recommended band speed

b. Use tool reconditioning services
For getting more life out of your standard and special Carbide and PCD tooling, Guhring has an entire Reconditioning Division committed to bringing your cutting tools back to factory quality, condition and performance. They offer reconditioning services for drills, step drills, carbide end mills and reamers on both Guhring tools and competitor tooling.

c. Take advantage of cutter remanufacturer programs
The Slugger Cutter Remanufacturing Program through FEIN allows annular cutters to be sharpened up to 6 times (excludes Carbide cutters). Getting reground on the same CNC machines they were manufactured on ensures they are just as true and just as sharp as the day they were made. They also offer recoating services at an additional cost.

If you’re interested in saving money and want information on programs like these, reach out to your local M&M Sales & Equipment rep or call 800-592-4516.

2. Get Organized

One of the fastest ways to damage or lose frequently used tools and tooling components is by failing to return them to their proper place when not in use. How often have you heard the complaint, “I can’t find the grinding wheels” or “Has anyone ordered new drill bits? I’m all out.

Organizational problems like these are so common in industrial facilities that an entire lean management strategy has been developed to cut down on the time employees spend searching for items. 5S is a lean management process that increases productivity and transforms workplaces from one of disorder and clutter to one that is organized and efficient. The 5S methodology includes Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Set in Order is one of the 5S’s designated for organization. Some methods of Set in Order are simple and straightforward like labeling bins, shadow boards and peg boards for power tools, cutting tools, and accessories like grinding wheels and drill bits.

Other methods require a more strategic approach, such as industrial vending machines. Whatever method you choose, you can greatly reduce lost production time due to lost, missing or damaged tools. Another advantage to better organization is that you can keep a closer eye on the replacement parts you need to repair or service your tools and equipment.

3. Train Employees Regularly

Every facility has its own unique roadmap to optimum production, one that is guided by the CNC machinery and tooling needed to do the job. Cycle time, metal removal rates and material costs are just a few of the considerations that vary from one shop to another. That’s why it’s critical to train both new hires and veteran workers on your machines and your policies. Pay attention to areas that employees are struggling with, as well as recurrent tooling issues. Then, devise specialized training on those procedures. By educating your staff on the processes specific to your shop, you can help them do their jobs safer and more efficiently, while cutting down on unnecessary wear and tear on your equipment.

4. Say Goodbye to Outdated Tools and Machinery

As difficult as it may feel, retiring old and inefficient tooling and equipment is essential to your productivity and profitability. Regularly assess the performance and reliability of your equipment and tooling. Old or obsolete equipment should be swapped out for advanced versions that are more accurate, faster and more reliable, ultimately providing faster payback on your investment.

Related: What’s Machine Downtime Really Costing You?

By following these tips, you can not only get more life out of your tooling and equipment, but also increase production. According to an article in American Machinist, businesses spend about 80% of their time reacting to maintenance issues instead of preventing them. Consistently monitoring tooling and equipment usage, as well as keeping regular maintenance schedules can reduce unplanned downtime and lead to longer tool life. Which, as we all know, means bigger profit and less wasteful spending.

We’re always on the lookout for ways you can improve operations and increase your profitability. From cutting tools, abrasives and cutting fluid to safety and MRO supplies, we are your full line distributor. If you have questions on how M&M Sales & Equipment can help you, please call one of our four Texas locations.


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