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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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8 Steps to Prepare Your Sump for a Temporary Shutdown

8 Steps to Prepare Your Sump for a Temporary Shutdown

During challenging times like these, we are committed to bringing you helpful advice and solutions that not only protect your business, but your investments, as well.

We know that shutdowns are a real possibility. Inadequate preparation of pumps and sumps can lead to major catastrophes when left unchecked. Machine operators should be mindful of three factors that can have an impact on sump health: coolant concentration, pH and reserve alkalinity. But it doesn’t stop there. Take a look at these expert tips from Master Fluid Solutions on how to prepare your sump for a temporary shutdown for a quick and smooth re-opening.

Download Preparing your Sump for a Temporary Shutdown

Step 1: It’s critical that the systems be in as good shape as possible when they are shut down. Concentration, pH, reserve alkalinity and other factors should be in the specified range.

Step 2: Remove the tramp oil from the sump. Tramp oil is both food and shelter for bacteria, which is the main cause of the rancid smell that can come from the coolant.

Step 3: Clean out chips and sludge from the sump. Chips and sludge are also food and shelter for bacteria. A Sump Sucker will make this job quick and easy.

Step 4: Bump up the concentration. This adds a little more pH buffering to the sump, which helps to prevent bacteria. Our recommendation is to bump up the concentration to the maximum recommended operating range for the product being used. If adds are needed for alkalinity, pH, or other factors, add them a day or so before the system is shut down.

Step 5: Make arrangements for whatever sampling you want to be completed and communicate the results before the shutdown occurs.

Step 6: If possible, recirculate the coolant in the sump during the shutdown. In many cases, maintenance staff may be present. Have them turn on the coolant pumps to recirculate the volume of the sump several times over.

Step 7: If you are going to run a centrifuge over the shutdown, make sure you have sufficient tramp oil and waste capacity.

Step 8: Make sure you have an adequate supply of coolant as well as cleaners such as Master STAGES™ Whamex XT™ and Master STAGES™ Task2™ GF to help keep your systems running smoothly and to prevent any issues when you resume normal operation.

M&M Sales & Equipment has the Master Fluid Solution products you need to keep your operations running smoothly. For other questions on how you can improve operations and increase profitability in your business, please call one of our four Texas locations.

M&M Sales & Equipment is your full line distributor for cutting tools, abrasives and cutting fluid, as well as safety and other MRO supplies in West Texas.

Sandvik Coromant Spotlight: How to Get the Best Machining Result with Milling Cutters and Tools

Sandvik Coromant Spotlight: How to Get the Best Machining Result with Milling Cutters and Tools

Everything these days seems to be moving at lightning speed, with many folks thinking the quicker the better. From procurement to delivery, we want it done, and we want it done yesterday. However, when it comes to machining applications, these speed and feed rates can make or break the reliability of your milling cutters and cause damage to your expensive machines. Some of the top things to consider in tough and demanding milling operations are heat, vibration, stability, functionality and adequate metal and chip removal rates, as well as good process security.

That’s why it’s critical that you understand the fundamentals of the cutting tools and equipment you use daily. Without the right milling cutters, cutter bodies and cutting tool technology, those high speeds can not only slow or stop your shop’s productivity, but also eat away at your profits.

Fortunately, our partnership with the industry’s most innovative manufacturer in tooling technology, Sandvik Coromant, has provided us with helpful advice and tips to help you get the most out of your machining operation. Need answers right now? Call us directly at 800-592-4516.

Let’s begin by explaining the 7 basic features of your milling cutters:

The Shank is the cylindrical shaped part of the tool that is used to hold and locate it in the tool holder. It can be round and held by friction or held in place with a set screw.

The Flute of a milling bit are the deep helical grooves running up the cutter.

The Tooth is the sharp blade along the edge of the flute that cuts the material. The flute, with the help of the rotation of the cutter itself, helps to expel the material up and away from the cutting surface.

The Helix Angle describes the flutes of a milling cutter. Usually flutes are helical to allow gradual entry into the workpiece. If flutes were straight, they would enter the workpiece at the same time, causing vibration and potential damage. Tighter helix angles with higher rake angles often provide a better finish.

The Milling Cutter Materials are often high-speed steel (HSS) or carbide. As a rule of thumb, softer materials can be machined with HSS and harder materials require carbide. But note that while HSS is less expensive than carbide, it does wear out faster, requiring more frequent changeouts.

Coatings are helpful in improving the hardness of a cutting edge and to reduce friction on materials that have low thermal conductivity, or are unable to control heat-build up on both the milling cutter and the work piece.

The Tool Life of your milling cutter is critical. If you have high production and heavy workloads, it’s critical to invest in the right tooling that can keep up with the volume of work. Choosing inexpensive or inadequate tooling costs time and money on wasted material, scrap, wasted tool spend and added wear and tear on your machines.

It’s not enough to just choose the right milling cutter for the job. You also need to understand how the milling cutter, the workpiece, and the machine all work together to get the best machining results.

Understanding the ABCs of Milling Cutters and Milling Operations

The following is from Sandvik Coromant:

A. The Milling Cutter
Milling isn’t a one-size-fits-all operation. Milling cutters cover a wide range of traditional operations that remove metal from workpieces, but milling cutters can be also be used in alternative ways to produce holes, threads, cavities or pocketing. The features to be milled require careful consideration as milling cutters come in many shapes, sizes, coatings and cutting surfaces. Does the milling depth require extended tooling or does the feature to be milled contain interruptions or inclusions? These are common questions you should ask yourself.

B. The Workpiece
Consider the workpiece and its machinability. The size part to be milled is limited by the machine’s capabilities and depth of cut required. Additionally, the material’s characteristics will determine the overall functionality. Characteristics like hardness, thickness, rigidity, chemical resistance, heat treatability and thermal stability all play a critical role, so special attention must be paid to choosing dedicated tooling and milling strategies.

C. The Machine
The milling method you choose will impact the type of machine you need. Typically, there are two configurations, vertical milling machines and horizontal milling machines. There are multitasking machines (MTM) that can handle a variety of operations including milling and lathing, but there are limitations. Choosing the right machine for the job will save you money on equipment repair and replacement, as well as saving on scrap costs.

Related: Improve Your Machine Shop’s Burden Rate

We’ve been partnering with Sandvik Coromant in Odessa, Lubbock, Amarillo and Fort Worth, Texas, for years. M&M Sales & Equipment proudly offers the entire line of Sandvik Coromant Milling Tools, including: 

  • Shoulder Milling Tools
  • End Milling Tools
  • Face Milling Tools
  • Profile Milling Tools
  • Disc Milling Tools
  • Groove Milling Tools
  • Thread Milling Tools
  • Chamfer Milling Tools

M&M Sales & Equipment is your cutting tool specialist and we’re proud to be a Gold Tier Sandvik Coromant distributor. For more information on these and other milling cutters, tools and accessories available through M&M Sales & Equipment, stop into one of our four convenient Texas locations or give us a call at 800-592-4516.


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Discover Jet-Stream­™ Turning, Boring and Threading Tool Solutions from Dorian Tool

Discover Jet-Stream­™ Turning, Boring and Threading Tool Solutions from Dorian Tool

You may think you know Dorian Tool for their line of cost-effective and reliable metal cutting tools, but there’s an entire side of them you may have never seen.

Since their Quadra Index Tool Post hit the scene in 1982, Dorian Tool has been innovating and exploring new technologies designed to help you improve quality and productivity in your precision machine shop. Today, they offer a wide selection of tools for both manual and CNC machines that include:

  • Carbide inserts
  • Toolholders
  • Knurling tools
  • Marking tools
  • Machine tool accessories
  • Rotary setters
  • Tool setters

Over the last several years, Dorian Tool has doubled down in research and development to come up with innovative new ways to improve their tooling options for the metalworking world.

Meet the Jet-Stream™ Thru Coolant System from Dorian Tools

Looking for a better CNC machine coolant option? For better surface finish, work quality and tolerance, the Jet-Stream™ Thru Coolant System turning, boring and threading tools have coolant exits, one above the insert cutting edge and one below. Having two exit points for coolant to be injected helps to reduce friction on the cutting edge and keep temperature constant, rather than spiking up and down. This offers better edge wear, reduces insert chipping and results in higher speeds and feeds. They’re available in a variety of options which include:

  • Jet-Stream™ Thru Coolant Turning and Boring
  • Jet-Stream™ Thru Coolant, API, Grooving
  • Jet-Stream™ Thru Coolant Hardware and Inserts

A Lesson in the Double Jet Coolant System from Dorian Tool

Source: Dorian Tool

Check out this video from Dorian Tool to see how it works!

Why Temperature Can be Detrimental to Machining Processes

Any time you activate a cutting tool on metal, you generate heat. If that heat isn’t carefully controlled and begins to accumulate, the cutting surface can become deformed and damaged. Damaged workpieces then become expensive scrap.

Related: 5 Ways to Reduce Scrap in Your Metal Cutting Operations

CNC machine coolants are used to bring down the temperature at the point of contact. High pressure cooling like that offered by Dorian Tool’s Jet-Stream™ tooling is introduced at the exact point of contact to remove heat at high rates and pressures, eliminating the vapor barrier common with standard coolant systems. That barrier typically blocks standard low-pressure coolant, limits the amount of lubrication to the cutting edge and actually causes chips to fall back into the tool. That’s why standard coolant systems often result in damage to the workpiece or lead to an inferior finished product.

Learn why Dorian Tool may be the best choice for your machining operations. Talk to your local rep today!

From cutting tools, abrasives and cutting fluid to safety and MRO supplies, we are your full-line distributor. If you have questions or need help on your machining processes, we are just a phone call away. Whether you’re a machine shop in Odessa, Lubbock, Amarillo, Fort Worth or surrounding areas, M&M Sales & Equipment has four convenient Texas locations to serve you. Give us a call and we’ll get you the assistance you need with a specific product, application or order inquiry today.

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Machine Shop Best Practices: How to Implement Effective KanBan Boards for Production Support

Machine Shop Best Practices: How to Implement Effective KanBan Boards for Production Support

What is a KanBan Board? The term KanBan was introduced by Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production Systems (TPS), in Japan as a lean manufacturing tool. In Japanese kanban literally translates to ‘signboard,’ used as a final call for orders from shopkeepers for orders in villages. Originally created as a simple way to control and manage workflow and inventory at any stage of production, KanBan uses cards or flags to signal when it is time to manufacture the next part, according to customer demand. The process helps to minimize waste, limit work-in-progress and reduce the amount of capital tied up in inventory.

Looking to speed up production and cut down on wasted time in your shop?

A KanBan board may be the solution you’ve been looking for. Kanban boards are agile tools used to help your workforce or organization visualize the flow of production, limit work-in-progress (WIP) and maximize efficiency. It can be one of the simplest and most effective ways to ensure your facility manufactures only what is needed for customer orders, rather than wasting time and supplies creating unnecessary goods. Create the right product at the right time at the right cost. When done right, a KanBan board can save you time and money. When done wrong, Kanban boards can add confusion and inefficiency to your operations.

Related: KanBan in Manufacturing Can Eliminate Bottlenecks and Maximize Capacity

To help understand the simplicity of an effective KanBan board for lean manufacturing, we thought we’d share a few tips on how to plan and implement your board.

5 Steps to Create and Set Up an Effective KanBan Board in Your Facility

  1. Decide What Kind of KanBan Board Your Facility Needs
    While it can be exciting to brainstorm ideas on how to best create your board, remember to keep it simple. Think about the type of KanBan you may want to use in your facility and how complex it really needs to be. Take a look at your existing workflow, speak to those working the front lines and discuss how to best focus resources to deliver the best impact.

    Your KanBan production board should, at a minimum, include horizontal columns for:

    a) To Do
    b) Doing
    c) Done

    More complex boards can utilize headings like these:

    a)Available Backlog
    b) Top 3 Priorities
    c) In Progress
    d) Require Validation
    e) Doing Validation
    f) Complete

  2. Make Small Incremental Changes Over Time
    It can be tempting to want to overhaul your entire production process overnight, but the best way to fine tune your processes is with small incremental changes. Start with what you know and monitor for results. Make one small change in the process and watch to see how it impacts production for worse or for better. Record that data and use metrics to determine any future adjustments. Your KanBan should remain flexible and allow you to gauge current processes, highlight inefficiencies and make changes to improve production flow and decrease waste.

  3. Encourage Company Wide Involvement
    Implementing anything new can have its challenges and, often times, can lead to rebellion or refusal to comply. Be clear about the initiative from day one and explain how KanBan can improve productivity, while decreasing individual stress. Make all policies involving KanBan explicit. Take the time to increase your team’s understanding of how and why KanBan is instrumental to the company’s success as well as their own. And, be sure to listen to the concerns raised by key team members, after all, they are your eyes and ears on the plant or machine shop floor.

  4. Limit Work-in-Progress
    Work-in-progress (WIP) are tasks or parts of a production process that a team is currently working on, but have not reached the stage to be considered “Done.” Too many WIPs can cause workers to have to multi-task, taking their attention away from singular tasks which could have been completed more quickly. Any time you have to pull a worker off of one task to start on another it is distracting and leads to bottlenecks in production flow. By reducing, not eliminating, WIP you learn to spot inefficiencies and eliminate future roadblocks to production.

  5. Define What “Done” Means
    Anyone in production knows that the finished piece is only as good as the sum of all its parts, meaning each stage is a handoff to the next person in line. Passing on incomplete, inadequate work or misinformation can not only delay the job, but may result in a poor final product. Be very clear about what “Done” means throughout each stage of the process so that there isn’t any confusion that could hamper quality, productivity or morale.

Pro Tip: Just remember the basic rule of thumb when it comes to your KanBan board: Keep it simple.

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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COVID-19 Preparedness Tips: Does your facility pass the test?

COVID-19 Preparedness Tips: Does your facility pass the test?

Texas is no stranger to market volatility, especially when it comes to oil prices. But today we face an additional threat, one that not only impacts the stock market, but also our health. As both the state and nation grapple with school closures, shuttered businesses and gathering restrictions, it has become apparent that how we work through the COVID-19 pandemic will indicate how quickly we can return to business as usual.

For those businesses deemed essential to infrastructure, there’s an added layer of concern and that is how to best protect their customers and staff. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, together with the U.S. Department of Labor has offered some guidance to help.

Identifying the Symptoms of COVID-19

Infections from coronavirus can be mild to severe. And symptoms aren’t always apparent, making early detection challenging. Look for symptoms that include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Understanding How COVID-19 Spreads

There’s still a lot to learn about the new coronavirus, but the research we have today shows that the virus is spread mainly person to person. Because it’s thought that respiratory droplets are considered a major transmission method, it is recommended that workers remain at least 6 feet away from one another and not share any tools, equipment or other materials that could have SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) on the surface.

Take these 6 Steps to Minimize Coronavirus Exposure Risk in Your Facility

  1. Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan
    Stay up to date on recommendations from federal, state and local health agencies. Consider what, how and to what sources of COVID-19 exposure that employees, customers and the general public may have. Consider individual health risks to your workers. Then, develop a plan on how to mitigate those risks through social distancing, alternative work schedules and remote work options. Be sure to consider any supply chain disruptions that could impact your operations.

  2. Prepare to Implement Basic Infection Prevention Measures
    Basic measures should include frequent and thorough hand washing. Make sure employees have access to warm water with soap as well as alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Encourage sick workers to stay home. Practice proper respiratory etiquette like covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. Then, washing hands immediately. Maintain regular housekeeping practices like cleaning and be sure to disinfect surfaces often.

  3. Develop Policies and Procedures for Prompt Identification and Isolation of Sick People
    Plan how you will identify and isolate potentially sick workers and train workers on how they can identify their own symptoms. Provide face masks to limit the spread of coronavirus and educate staff on the proper use and disposal of any personal protective equipment (PPE).

  4. Develop, Implement and Communicate about Workplace Flexibilities and Protections
    Clearly communicate policies regarding employee and family-related sick leave. Be flexible about employees’ needs, especially regarding staying home to care for a sick child or family member.

  5. Implement Work Controls
    It may not be possible to eliminate the risk of COVID-19 exposure in your facility, but you can take steps to mitigate those risks. Use controls such as high-efficiency air filters. Install physical barriers such as sneeze guards and utilize drive-through or curbside service options. Limit the physical contact shared by employees and customers. Alternate shifts or allow employees to work from home when appropriate. Discontinue any nonessential travel and train workers on how to improve protective behaviors, use their PPE and how to spot risk factors.

  6. Follow Existing OSHA Standards
    Remember to follow OSHA standards for safe work practices regarding the occupational hazards your employees face every day. Some of these requirements may also prevent occupational exposure to COVID-19. Personal protective equipment like eye and face protection, respiratory protection and hand protection may help control some sources of the virus.

For the full recommendations, please readGuidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.

To learn what precautions we are taking at this time, read We’re Open: COVID 19 Update.

M&M Sales & Equipment remains fully operational at this time, but due to the precautionary measures we are taking to protect you and our employees, service may be slightly slower than usual.

Please contact the M&M Sales team with any questions.

KanBan in Manufacturing Can Eliminate Bottlenecks and Maximize Capacity

Are you looking for ways to identify and stop bottlenecks and waste in your facility?

Sure. Who isn’t looking to optimize operations to achieve maximum results with minimal investment? For that reason, many manufacturing facilities and machine shops alike are starting to look to lean manufacturing techniques to help them get there.

Kanban systems are one such method that offer production teams the support they need to get the most out of their operational processes. Following the design of pull systems and just-in-time inventory plans, Kanban cards are small cards with important information related to specific operational processes. These cards can include information about materials and part descriptions, identifying bar codes, routing information, lead time, supplier information, order date, due date, responsible parties and more.

Kanban boards are ideal for controlling production and making operational processes visible when used as part of a lean manufacturing program. Kanbans are best described as visual markers that highlight each step of the manufacturing process. Kanbans not only helps to visualize the workflow process, but also the actual work that passes through the process. By increasing the visibility of the work to be done, over time you begin to eliminate wasted labor, inventory and time.

Related: 5 Ways to Reduce Scrap in Your Metal Cutting Operations

7 Surprising Ways Kanban Can Support Your Manufacturing Goals

  1. Measure and manage workflow
    Kanbans allow production teams to have both a high-level view of workload, as well as more detailed information regarding individual tasks and priorities. Kanban systems for manufacturing can also help measure team members’ progress through each stage of the workflow.

  2. Communicate more effectively
    The use of a Kanban board in your facility ensures clear and accurate communication of goals, policies and expectations without confusion. Every affected employee knows exactly what is required at every stage of the operation.

  3. Limit Work in Progress (WIP)
    With an effective Kanban system in place, it’s easier to visualize workflow and backlogs at various points in time and concentrate on completing existing work before taking on new work. This offers added insight into current workload to determine if work needs to be cut back or if you have capacity to add more.

  4. Improve customer satisfaction
    Using Kanban to optimize your production flows, your company can complete more work on time and in budget. Not only does this lead to happy customers, but also loyal customers who are more likely to act as evangelists on your behalf.

  5. Reduce worker stress
    Individual workers, production teams and management alike experience reduced stress with the successful implementation of Kanban in their facility. Kanban offers enhanced visibility into operations and helps managers understand conflicting priorities and create solutions that eliminate bottlenecks. Workers can now focus on what they do best, rather than what is piling up ahead.

  6. Improve safety and compliance
    Kanban in manufacturing not only helps to reduce production costs and waste, but can help improve safety. A smooth workflow guided by clear standard operating procedures (SOP) can eliminate bad habits and faulty material and equipment, resulting in fewer accidents and more consistency in safety programs throughout the facility.

  7. Improve collaboratively and continuously
    When all parts of the process are understood by all affected employees, it’s easier to spot potential problem areas and brainstorm solutions collectively. Plus, all stakeholders have improved visibility with a clear and consistent view of the workflow.
M&M Sales & Equipment Kanban Tips for Manufacturing

Related from Medium: Learn more about various types of Kanban cards here.

It’s no secret that lean manufacturing methods have been key to the success of many small and mid-size manufacturing facilities. When Kanban is used with other lean manufacturing best practices, managers have experienced lower overhead and inventory costs, improved reporting, standardized production goals, better teamwork and increased accuracy.

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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Wrapping Up 2019: West Texas Oil Economy in Review

M&M Sales & Equipment supports our local communities and one way that we do that is by staying informed on the issues that matter to you. We provide products of all kinds including cutting tools like end mills, face mills, grooving inserts and drill bits to various industries, and we have a special relationship with those working in oil and gas. As 2020 kicks off, we wanted to take a look back and reflect on how the oil industry has impacted West Texas residents and beyond over the past year.

Oil Activity in Early 2019

Back in March of 2019, we explored West Texas’ boom-bust oil industry and shared some expert insights on the status of crude oil production and where it was headed. The U.S. Department of Energy expected the Permian Basin to pump 3.9 million barrels of oil per day (bpd), with futures anticipated at 9 million bpd by 2021.

We also shared examples of how the oil boom was impacting West Texas and its residents. Rising employment rates were a welcome relief to many who were impacted by massive layoffs in 2016, but food and housing costs also skyrocketed, hitting those same residents square in the pocketbook. Though market conditions looked good, West Texans are used to the ebb and flow of the oil industry and remain cautious. The old saying, “Oil giveth and oil taketh away” is one that’s always on the minds of those who live here.

Related: 2019 Oil Forecast in West Texas: Boom Expected to Continue

Year End Oil Report

As we continued throughout the year, the outlook remained positive overall. Energy technology company Baker Hughes recently reported an increase of four rigs bringing the active U.S. rig total to 667. Our own Texas rig count remained unchanged from the week prior at 400, but down 132 from 2018.

What’s interesting is that according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States exported 90,000 bpd more total crude oil and petroleum in September 2019 than we imported. This marks the first recorded month in U.S. history that the United States exported more crude oil and petroleum products than it imported. This supports the 2019 Annual Energy Outlook that forecast that the U.S. would become a net energy exporter by 2020.

While crude oil production looks healthy, coal consumption continues its decades-long decline.  Reports show that U.S. coal production employment has fallen 42% since 2001 (EIA). That seems to align with the decrease in Texas coal production from over 40 million short tons in 2014 down to roughly 25 million short tons in 2018.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, employment in oil and gas extraction jobs in Texas remain steady around 78,600. The Permian Basin maintains healthy crude oil production numbers of around 4.5 million bpd, meeting and exceeding the U.S. Department of Energy’s prediction earlier in the year. (View 2019 Energy Slideshow here)

Looking Ahead to 2020

As of the Dec. 10 report, the U.S. is still on pace to average 13.2 million bpd in 2020, a 0.9 million bpd increase from 2019 (EIA). It’s important to note that this is a slowdown from 2018 numbers, and the decrease in crude oil production is due to a continuing decline in drilling rigs. A decline in drilling rigs and wells drying up are factors that could impede the United States’ race to become a world’s leading oil producer. To keep pace, technological improvements must continue to support sustainable growth.

There is anticipation that because of rising global oil inventories, crude oil prices will be lower in 2020 than in 2019, but that remains to be seen. In a December article in the New York Times, it was reported that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia agreed to make cuts in production to compensate for higher oil output. But their cuts have done little to raise crude oil prices in the past due to the steady increase in U.S. shale oil production, especially those barrels from the West Texas area. Only time will tell.

Stay in the know with us. Keep on the lookout for future articles discussing both the local economy here in West Texas, as well as what’s happening in the world. We would love to hear your insight and how you are impacted by our regional and global oil industry. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

We are your cutting tools specialists and are committed to helping you remain profitable and productive in a changing world. Have questions? Reach out to us by clicking here.

5 Ways to Reduce Scrap in Your Metal Cutting Operations

What is scrap? For starters, it can be anything that results in wasted material and a need to perform rework of some kind. In the metal cutting world, scrap can take the shape of discarded or excess material, non-returnable components, metal shavings, unusable parts and nonmetal waste. Scrap is often considered an inevitable part of the manufacturing process and may not seem like much in the short term, but over time can add up to major losses. Think about all the time you spend reworking entire batches of parts due to machining mistakes or operator error. Some scrapped parts may be able to be refinished and put to use so the loss in time and labor is minimal, but other times the pieces may have to be thrown out.

Scrap can be a serious problem, but let’s not focus on the negative. If you’re experiencing levels of scrap that are costing you time and money, there is a HUGE opportunity for you to make a few changes to your operations that will reduce scrap and lead to cost savings. In fact, setting your sights on scrap reduction may be the single greatest thing you can do for your company this year.

To get started, consider hiring a consulting firm to help you identify areas of waste leading to excessive scrap. If you would rather go it alone, here are a few tips to begin improving operations and reduce your scrap rate:

1. Electronically document material usage.
Are you still using pen and paper to manually log material usage and machining data? While documentation of any kind is certainly better than none at all, let’s take a look at why paper documentation isn’t ideal. One reason is human error. Sometimes, data isn’t recorded accurately. Without this key data, how can a company realize the root of a problem and decide on a solution? Paper documentation also limits the availability of information for certain members of the team. Imagine the confusion that happens when your team must hunt down critical information to perform their tasks. Storing and sharing this information electronically ensures all members of your team communicate effectively.

2. Optimize machining processes.
If you haven’t been documenting material usage, then it’s impossible to know where and how materials are being used or misused. Once you develop a plan to thoroughly document all the moving parts in your manufacturing process you can begin to optimize those areas that are generating the most waste. This requires a hands-on approach. Head down to the production floor and watch each stage. Take note of areas you feel could be improved, machinery that should be replaced or ways you could streamline the process. Sometimes, all the data in the world won’t provide the information you can capture with your own two eyes.

3. Automate when possible.
Not only can automation improve worker safety in your facility, but it can improve the safe handling of parts through reduced employee touchpoints. Machines can be calibrated for precision cuts and bends in various types of metal, reducing the amount of scrap generated. You can also install sensor technology that can alert you immediately to any machinery issues that could interfere with optimum production.

4. Use the right tool for the job.
When trying to stay in budget on an order, it can be tempting to cut costs with cheaper tooling and machinery. Unfortunately, using inferior equipment typically leads to increased scrap costs, machine downtime and higher material usage. By choosing the right tool for the job, you can be sure to machine parts correctly the first time, rather than waste precious resources on rework.

For tips on how to reduce machine downtime in your facility, read What’s Machine Downtime Really Costing You? (And How to Avoid It)

5. Involve the entire team.
Any time that you make changes to standard operating procedures is a great time to roll out those changes to all affected employees. Not only is it critical for safety, but the more knowledgeable your workers are about the new processes, the less mistakes and costly errors your operation will experience. Take a page from the lean manufacturing playbook and consider performance-based bonuses for employees that identify areas of waste and offer solutions to reduce scrap rates and inefficiency.

We understand you have a tough job to do, and we want to help improve your operations and increase your profitability. If you have questions on how M&M Sales & Equipment can help your business succeed, call one of our four Texas locations.

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The Guide to Choosing the Right Saw Blades for Optimum Productivity

Choosing the right saw blade is critical to a manufacturing facility or machine shop’s profitability and productivity. Not doing so can lead to shorter blade life or complete blade failure diminishing any potential for efficiency. So, we created a handy guide that can help break down the terminology surrounding saw blade selection, as well as provide tips on extending blade life and how to properly break in your new blade. Whether you are sawing large workpieces or difficult to cut materials, knowing your blade can mean the difference between making money or losing it.

Common Saw Blades

Source: Lenox Tools

Circular Saw Blades: For use with miter saws, table saws, radial arm saws, cut-off saws and standard circular saws, these blades come in a variety of materials that can cut metal, wood, cement, glass or laminates. We sell a variety of metal circular saw blades from names like Lenox, Fein and Evolution! Be sure to ask about our Fiber cut-off wheels from Pferd and United Abrasives/SAIT.

Carbide Tipped Band Saw Blades: Designed to cut composites, metal and wood. High-performance steel and optimized carbide grades cut faster and last longer in a wide variety of sawing applications. For band saw blades, we offer a wide selection of blades from Lenox, Starrett and Arntz.

Bi-Metal Band Saw Blades: Bi-metal band saw blades are among the most versatile choice for most metal sawing applications involving a wide variety of materials such as aluminum and non-ferrous metals, carbon and structural steel. They’re cost effective, perform well and have long blade life with high-speed tooth tips and flexible alloy steel back.

Carbon Band Saw Blades: Economical and reliable, carbon band saw blades are great for general purpose and utility sawing. They are used to cut a variety of materials from carbon steels and aluminum to abrasive materials such as wood and fiberglass. Ideal for small maintenance and light-production shops.

Reciprocating Saw Blades: Whether it’s tile, clay, wood, cast iron, bricks or metals there’s a reciprocating saw blade for the job. Reciprocating saws are versatile in that you can swap out different blades for different materials. Ideal for maintenance, demo or repair applications.

Cold Saw Blades: High-speed steel cold saw blades are often used for cutting pipes, tubes and other solid steel materials. Many types of cold saw blades can be re-sharpened and used several times before replacing. The name comes from the transfer of heat energy during the cutting process. The blade and work material stay cold and the heat is expelled in the chip.

Grit Edge Saw Blades: Carbide Grit Edge Blades offer a seamless cut into abrasive and hardened materials, fiberglass, steel belted radial tires and other composites.

Hole Saws: Hole saw blades cut clean and accurate holes in a variety of materials from metals, woods or plastics.

Annular Cutters: Similar to a hole saw but runs in a magnetic drill. We offer a variety of premium annular cutters from FEIN.

Did you know? M&M Sales & Equipment can weld ¼-inch to 1 ½ inch wide saw blade material to any length on site; we also have the most popular lengths in stock from our supplier partners.

Understanding the Parts of Your Saw Blade

The Gullet is the space between each saw tooth that allows for efficient chip removal. The larger the material or the faster the feed rate, the deeper the gullet (such as in a 2/3 variable tooth blade that has a much bigger gullet than an 8/12 variable tooth’s gullet) and the more chips that are expelled.

Tooth Construction is another critical part of how your saw blades are made. Different tooth constructions offer different advantages. For instance, a carbide tipped tooth offers a longer lasting and smoother cutting blade.

Tooth Form refers to the shape of the tooth. The shape impacts how a blade cuts through material and can extend blade life, control noise level and provide a smoother cut and chip capacity.

  • Variable Positive shape offers variable tooth spacing and gullet capacity for less noise and vibration, while simultaneously allowing for faster cuts, longer blade life and smoother cuts.
  • Variable shape is similar to Variable Positive, but can be used for slower cutting rates.
  • Standard is a good multipurpose shape that can be used in many various applications.
  • Skip shape has a wide gullet ideal for non-metallic applications.
  • Hook shape is similar to the Skip, but can be used on metal and non-metal applications.

Tooth Set refers to the number of teeth and the angle that they are offset. Different tooth sets impact cutting efficiency and chip carrying ability. For a clear visual on how tooth set can differ, refer to this guide from Lenox Tools.

Kerf Width is the width of the cut made by the blade into the desired material. Full kerf blades remove about 1/8” of material, while thin kerfs generally remove about 3/32” of material. Because the full kerf removes more material, it’s best to use with a more powerful saw. Thin kerf blades can be used with saws that use less horsepower.

Other consumables that can help or hinder cutting conditions are choices of hydraulic oil and cutting fluids. But it always comes down to blade selection. Choosing a better crafted blade designed for an application results in better wear and heat-resistance, fewer changeouts, better accuracy and less waste.

Learn more about blade maintenance in “How Do I Choose the Right Saw Blade for My Project? 

To avoid blade failure and get the most out of your new saw blade, remember these blade break-in tips:

  1. Choose the proper band speed for material to be cut.
  2. Set the beginning band feed rate at 50% of normal/recommended feed rate.
  3. Begin the first cut and once 50-70 in2  of material has been cut, gradually increase feed rate to normal.
  4. If chatter/noise occurs, adjust cutting speed.

To learn more about the different types and brands of saw blades we offer, reach out to M&M Sales & Equipment representatives or stop in at one of our four locations in Texas.