Better, Faster, Cheaper: Doing More With Less
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Doing More with Less at Your Shop Webinar

– Welcome, everybody. Welcome, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us today. My name is Paul, this would be a very different kind of webinar. So I’m excited to get into this with these guys. The guys that are joining me today have been in hundreds, maybe even over 1000 shops, collectively, the four of us. And we’ve seen a lot of good, and a lot of bad practices, a lot of waste, a lot of things, that a lot of shops do wrong. So before we dig into that, let’s cover some of the housekeeping. There is a Q&A panel on the side of your screen, probably. So if you do have questions, please go ahead, put those in the in the Q&A section, and we will get to those at the end of the webinar. So you are all muted, of course, as is standard practice. So yeah, use that Q&A, And we’ll get to those at the end. So Jason, let’s start off with you. This was your brainchild, tell us why we’re all here today.

– Well, for the few people who don’t know who I am, I’m Jason Koger, I’m the local Mastercam guy. So on support the software and– My backgrounds a pretty good one. I grew up machining, programming, I swept the floor, work my way through the ranks, then back to janitor, and now ultimately wound up here. So it’s good for you guys, because I’m from the trenches. And the things we’re gonna cover today, we’ve actually implemented in different shots. Like Paul said, I’ve been in hundreds of shops, with the rest of the guys on the panel. And usually it’s to go in and solve a problem, make my part run faster. Well, there’s almost always a bigger problem in the process. We see a lot of the same waste shop after shop. And, it’s not always a cycle time that we can improve that could increase the profitability, but looking at the whole value stream from start to finish. So today’s webinar, we’re gonna cover what kind of wastes we see in the different departments of the machine shop. We’re gonna cover give you solutions for that. And then we’re gonna take a look at what the future state could look like. So let’s everybody gonna introduce ourselves, and then we’ll dive in, right.

– All right, sounds good. I’ll go first. So I used to also sweep floors in a machine shop, Jason. I actually was a shop owner for about 17 years, started a shop right out of college. I was a machinist, and a programmer, and estimator, floor sweeper, of course. And during the time we ran our shop, we actually built some software to help run our company, grew that shop up to about 75 people, and then eventually sold it and went full time into the software business. And so now we work with shops all around the world, to help them make their processes more lean, and get more done with less effort. How about you, Bryan, tell us about yourself.

– Well, unfortunately, I haven’t swept very many shops. I would be willing to, but it’s just this is not my background. My name is Bryan Jacobs. I’m from CGTech. CGTech is the developer of Vericut software. Vericut is software to simulate, verify, and optimize NC code. So we’re simulating CNC machines. The company has been in business for 32 years, I’ve been part of the company a little bit more than half of that. In my current role, I covered the Pacific Northwest, and I am also the Boeing global account manager for CG tech. So that’s about it, Brandon.

– Yeah, so my name is Brandon, I represent Verisurf software. So we are different than Vericut, very commonly confused about the four first letters, but we’re totally two separate companies. But so we’re a 3D metrology inspection and reverse engineering software. We work with over 150 devices, anywhere from say small scale medical to very large scale aerospace. We cover it all, we interface with a bunch of devices. I’ve been Verisurf with about three years, and about five years of metrology experience working with a wide range of different applications. So happy to be here.

– Right on. Okay, thanks, guys. So before we really dig into things, let’s start by talking about just kind of the main points, what we look for when we walk into a shop, maybe top three or four things, and then we’ll dig into more detail. So I, when I walk into a shop, the first thing I look for is paper. I look for piles of paper on desks, I look for job travelers, if I see that, I know there’s a ton of waste out there. There are people waiting for jobs they don’t realize they have to work on, there might be things not getting ordered on time. I go out and they look at the shop floor I look to see if all their machines are running, or if they’re not because they forgot to order a piece of material or they forgot to get that special ground and mail that someone dropped the ball on. And then I look at their tool crib. If it’s crazy disorganized, I know there’s a lot of waste there too. How about you Jason?

– Just the same kind of thing. When I walk in, is to solve the cycle time issue but I like taking a shop tour. And the thing that I look for, the thing I hone in on, is big piles of material next to the machines. I love nothing more than walking into a shop and seeing 300 pieces of material sitting on a pallet in front of multiple machines down a line. I’m also keeping an eye out for what kind of part is running there? Is it, the dash one running on machine one, then machine two, then machine three? Those are the kind of things that stick out to me, and I’m looking for opportunity there.

– Yeah, so I’m right there with you, Jason. I think when we go on site, we both kind of look for the same things overall. oftentimes, when I first visit a shop for the first time, they’ll try to force me into the conference room. And I always ask for a shop tour up front. First and foremost, it’s my favorite part of the job. Getting to see how things are made, it’s just a lot of fun. But really what I’m looking for, is this a well run shop, or is it not? So, the first thing that’s gonna pop out is, are the machines running? Or are there a bunch of machines that are sitting idle? What is the complexity of the parts? How long are the run times? Are they using tool preceptors? These are all the kind of things that I’m picking up. But first and foremost, I’m looking for scrap, I’m trying to determine are there scrap parts? Are there a bunch of parts with red tags on them that I’ve been flagged as not being good? And so, during this time, it’s also a chance to ask a lot of questions that we’re gonna be able to address at a later time. But I can find out, are you having issues with machine crashes? Are our machines going down for any number of reasons? And then part of that always gonna end up at some point in the inspection room. They’re gonna want to show me their fancy CMM equipment. That’s a little bit out of my domain. So I guess I’ll push it over to you, Brandon, what do you look for when you visit a shop?

– Yeah, so I mean, a reoccurring thing as I like to do a shop tour as well, I look for different parts that you guys do. But when I go in, I mainly look and see where there’s a bottleneck with these parts. Most the time, is it up like a process, or is that the final end? So I usually look for a stack up of parts, maybe before seeing them or after. Why are all these parts failing? I like to see it and look on the machine. If someone’s waiting, next machine, why is it quality related? Those are kind of things that I see a lot of issues with, that we can alleviate that process. So I know Paul, you kind of started off with this beginning and you kind of wrap it up the end, what do you see?

– Yeah, I see people scrambling at final to prepare document packages and get their search together, get their first article reports in a format that their customer can use. They’re often looking at the clock and the UPS drivers coming soon, and just trying to get that stuff all prepped and out the door. That’s generally what we see at the end of the process. So that was a good, a good high level summary, let’s dig into a little bit more detail here. And we’re not gonna use slides for this next part, we’re just gonna be talking. So at the beginning, of course, for most shops, is the estimating process. They get an RFP from a customer, oftentimes, they are then pulling out a spreadsheet, or maybe heaven forbid, they’re just printing off the the drawing and writing on the drawing, an hour of setup time, 20 minutes or runtime, five bucks a piece of material, 10 bucks a piece and or a lot charge. And those are things that are not gonna be easily transferable down the line, to the next person that needs to take that information if they if they’re lucky enough to win that order.

– So if I could just interrupt for a second, you you mentioned, cycle times, and it’s like, how do the estimators actually figure out what those cycle times are going to be? Because, obviously, as part of the programming and simulation process, you’re gonna generate a cycle time, that’s accurate. But at that point, you’ve already it’s kind of a chicken and egg problem, because you’ve already now programmed and simulated the entire part that you’re just coding at this stage. And so how do you make sure you get those cycle times right, in the coding stage when you haven’t necessarily done the programming yet?

– Good question. Yeah, I mean, largely that comes down to I think quantity. When I was coding parts at our shop, if it was a 10 piece order, the cycle time wasn’t that big of a factor. But if it was 1000 piece order, you bet we would need to get that down to seconds or minutes. So we would sometimes have a programmer put some code to the to that model if we had it. And if that wasn’t available, or if we weren’t gonna do that, we would often look at the history of similar parts, or maybe that part if we’d run in the past. But that meant finding easy having easy access to those numbers which a lot of shops don’t have because they have to file through filing cabinets to find well what was the runtime on that part. So, anyway, so that’s hopefully that. Give some clarity there. Another thing I look for after that is, and like I said in the intro, I’m looking for piles of work order travelers on people’s desks. It’s amazing how long it can take to even get material ordered, or for the programmers to even know there’s something to work on. If they’re relying on a piece of paper, to go through the order entry contract review process, over to purchasing, and then finally over to the programming department. And so that’s a big opportunity there. But then I know there’s lots of ways things are gonna happen in the programming department. So Jason, why don’t you tell us about what you see there?

– We don’t have wast in programming. But but if we did, let’s just start we get a job traveler, somebody says Jason and program part one, two, three, four, most shops that I go into, and I would say easily nine out of 10, every programmer is really highly skilled. They have their own idea, though, of how they wanna program apart. And my favorite is right out the gate, how we’re going to design fixturing, and how we’re gonna select the tooling we use. I mean, if programmer A is in love with the discard tool, and programmer B is in love with the Sandvik tool, they run and behave differently. So now we’re having two different options to start with before we even lay our first bit of tool path. The other problem that I see another waste I see in programming is running multiple ops across multiple machines. Because we’re just already setting up the operators for failure. If we have the ability to run something in a five axis and mill complete with tab offs, that’s great. But what if we don’t have that, right? If we’re gonna go from op one, op two, and op three, a lot of the times the programmers already set the guys on the floor up, by having three different individual fixtures running across three different machines, instead of taking advantage of multiple fixtures on one plug and play fixture that goes inside of a machine. From a programming standpoint, it’s a little bit more work on our end, but then we’re eliminating waste downstream by introducing scrap and air into that. And lastly, when it comes to programming, I noticed that the lot sizes really make a difference. If we’re told to program for like you mentioned only 10 parts, we would program it with a simple approach a very quick and dirty, get it done. But if we’re going to run 1000, like you’re saying everything has to be dialed in to the absolute tee. But the real waste is do we need to run 1000 at a time, most of the time, the orders we get are something to satisfy a batch of 40 per month. Why are we running 300 at a time? And the answer is always well, it’s cheaper to run multiple lots in one batch and do it as one batch. But the waste downstream is really we’re not able to have flexibility. So as programmers, a lot of the waste is getting introduced downstream and starting with us, is pushing back, reducing lot size, and just getting more efficient with our setups. But so no matter what you program, the job is finally done. You may or may not have set of notes we have to create. But as a programmer, I finished my job is beautiful. And then I throw it over the fence and the guy on the floor gets it and I just hope that it goes well.

– Yep, and then that machinist is gonna go route through the the tooling drawer, right? Something like this. Have you seen these kind of things in the shop before?

– I’ve worked at that shop? That’s exactly how, that’s exactly how it is, right? Yeah.

– So anyway, yes, for sure. When setups come out on the floor, one of the biggest wastes that we see is that there’s not enough systems, like really good description of this exact tool, instead of just like a half inch end mill with a quarter inch round. That’ll be a ball mill, wouldn’t it? But really not having everything prepped for the machine, when you go to do that setup. Oftentimes we see someone walk to a machine with their job traveler, they start looking at the details, and then they leave their machine again to go get something. And that’s just downtime, spindles not cutting, you’re not making parts. Once they finally do get everything and get their code into the machine, then comes out that prove out time. So Bryan, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what that process is like?

– Yeah, and that’s something we hear from managers all the time, especially a manager that hasn’t been a machinist or programmer themselves. They’re often asking, why does it take so long? Why can’t it take a week to prove out a job that’s gonna actually run for 45 minutes. But regardless of whether or not you’re running one or 1000, you still have that unproven NC code the first time that you’ve got to now figure out if something bad gonna happen on the machine or not. So what happens, the operator gets that NC code, and they’re gonna single step through each individual line of code, or they’re gonna turn the feed rates way down, or they’re gonna do something to make sure that nothing bad is gonna happen on this unproven code. If anything doesn’t look right, or if something bad does happen, they’re gonna stop the machine immediately, and they’re gonna go interrupt the NC programmer and they’re gonna try to figure out what the problem was, reprogram that section, repost it, send it back to the job, and you just have this loop that just goes back and back and forth. And that’s what can eat up just so much time. So, obviously, the reason I’m here, is that there is a virtual environment that you can do that, and you don’t have to do it all on the actual physical machine. But once you finally do have your proven code, you’re ready to make production parts, that first part, it’s gonna have to go to inspection. And that’s where it’s gonna go over to Brandon’s realm, if you will.

– Right, right. I see a lot of balls, and mainly on how when, what’s the flowers, all that part See a whole bunch of red tags part a failed? Okay, why was there in process inspection? Where were they taking something. What did it take apart from machine take to the CMM, or what other ways are they doing that in process inspection? So, a lot of times I see somewhere in the machine they’re waiting, they take a part to the CMM, it’s downtime on the machine. It could take 30 minutes, two hours, three hours, it just depends on the complexity of the part, because they’re waiting for a CMM to do that inspection. So I see a lot of shops where they don’t incorporate ways to do inspection on the machine. And then that there’s also ways to automate that. So we look at a lot of CMM rooms, there is, three, four, or five employees. Are they all doing the most efficient job that they possibly can? We see a lot of times where one person is in the corner, that’s their one job, that’s the one thing that they are designed to do? Well, what if that person leaves? Or what if they call in sick? Is everybody cross-trained? And that’s one of the big things that I see, especially as not everyone’s cross trained, and no one’s on the same unified software platform or efficient process. I see two, three CMMs in a room, a lot of times are running different software, they got them at different times, and the history of that company, and they never took the time to unify something. So let’s say a CMM, goes down, how are we gonna fix that? Are we gonna wait a week or two, for someone to come on site and fix that? Or is that person on vacation? We wanna basically minimize that process as much as possible. And so ultimately, unifying something on all platforms is only the way to go. But I mean, after like a roundabout way of going to inspect on product, Paul, what do you see?

– Yeah, so once you got your part, once you do have it bought off, and your job, at the end of the process, I see a lot of scrambling in getting stuff ready. So like I said earlier, there’s often a paper traveler, showing up at the final inspection department or the shipping department, they’re needing to pull, some paper forms maybe and enter that into a spreadsheet or some kind of format that they wanna send to their customer. If they need to have certs, which is usually the case, in aerospace and other industries like that, they’re either, again, pulling them out of filing cabinets, going on their Network folder searching for certs, or heaven forbid, the cert was with the traveler that might have gotten lost, they might need to call up their vendor again to get more certs, so they can prepare that document package. Everyone, at least in aerospace, that we know and work with a lot, knows that you’re buying the paperwork just as much as you’re buying the parts. So you got to have that really smooth, and very often that just isn’t the case. So that was a good summary of some of the wastes that we’ve seen. Let’s kind of switch gears here and get into some of the future state, what we have seen shops do well, or ways to eliminate some of those ways. And I will start first, since we are really involved in the beginning of that process. And if I was to say that there was a theme that we’re probably all going to talk about, it’s about standardization, right? Making sure that you have well defined processes that people are well trained in, they know exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. You’re using templates, you’re using pre configured forms. Those things allow you to be more accurate and a lot more quick, and also to not, and I’m gonna pull up a slide here, to not forget things. So one of the things that we highly recommend in shops is to use checklists, right? Some of the most critical things in the world like surgeons and pilots use checklists before they do their job. And machining is incredibly complex, I would say just as complex as those things. So having checklists to make sure that you don’t forget to do something, even a senior programmer that’s been doing his job for 10 years, will sometimes forget to do something, right? So standardization is really important. And then I can’t stress enough the idea of keeping it paperless. If there is a way to get your paper travelers, make them digital so that everyone can pull them up on a screen. Even if it’s spreadsheets that are shared, across an internal network, that’s better than a piece of paper that can easily get lost. And a lot of also shops, we see a huge advantage to doing more of your planning process upfront. Just being more proactive, a little bit more planning upfront, looking at as soon as you get a job, we used to have in our shop, what we call the war room session that very same day or the next day. looking at how we’re gonna fixture this part, what custom tools do we need? Is the material a long lead time? And we’d kick off activities to get all those things coming right away. And going paperless, again, will solve the problem of waiting, it’ll also solve the problem of motion of having to walk around looking for stuff. And so once all that sort of in place, then it starts ready to hand it off, again to the programming department. You got your material in order, you got your tools in order. What’s happening next, Jason, that they can do better?

– Well, from my– I’d like to agree with you, I think standardization is definitely the key to success. When I’m looking at the shop and how it runs, I look at overproduction. I see that being the most important or the biggest waste from my world. Everything points to being cheaper, and how to make parts faster. But I think missing the dollars, and the bottom line dollars is probably the biggest thing. Standardization will allow you to do things like building standard tool lists, building templates for your programming, programmers, and most people in the shop, look at each part and go, that’s the unique part, right? My phone is different than my watch, I’ll program it in two different ways. But the reality is, you can take the same kind of material and apply the same basic principles to it, and get through a program much faster, right? The programming is usually not something you get paid for, it’s producing the part, adding value into the piece of material. So if you can come up with a standard header for your programs, use standard tool lists, have standardizing for your roughing and finishing, so the guy on the floor doesn’t have to wonder what’s gonna be happening. Those are huge things from a programming standpoint. Reducing the lot size, I think one of the things that people can walk away from is, learning or understanding one piece flow. most people on the call, have already taken some kind of lean class or read a book on lean right? I mean, we all have. One piece flow doesn’t work in my shop. Okay, it does work in most cases, but it’s the principle of reducing lot size down to the smallest possible expose waste. From a programming standpoint, learning and programming and implementing standard plug and play tooling is gonna be critical. Most people like to run big long batches, because it means you don’t have to incorporate that setup time. It takes four hours of setup every time you run a job, you’d rather run six months with the parts and only have one four hour block. But if you reduced your setup to only five minutes, by doing good tooling in the beginning, then when you get that hot ALG job, or somebody comes to you with an opportunity to make really great money, you don’t have that machine or that resource tied up for weeks on end running parts, you’re able to slip that in, and it’s gonna cost you a five or 10 or 15 minutes setup. But it really all boils down to standardization. So to finish with what you were saying, Paul checklists, I’m not a fan of checklists, because it means more work on my part, and I’m lazy. However, going through, did I use standard tools? Did I use standard plug and play fixturing? Did I use the header? Did I have my tools, my post, everything dialed in, so that you can distinguish one person from another that is absolutely huge.

– And just to make a couple of comments on a few of the points you’re making, I completely agree about the standardization. The more you do upfront, even if it’s in the programming state that’s gonna help you downstream and all the other processes downstream. So, having a standard tool library that you pull from every time that’s gonna benefit you both in programming and simulation. Having standard what we buzzword these days is digital twin, but having template files for each of your virtual machines, and having those as just standard things that people don’t mess with, that you start from each time that’s gonna help you out. And then with regards to reducing the number of setups, absolutely. And if you have a virtual environment that you can experiment with, you can test out a bunch of different scenarios. So yeah, maybe you wanna take this job that’s been running in a three op kind of thing, and you wanna run it and try to do it in one off on a five axis machine, you can test all of that in the virtual environment. Or maybe the five axis machine isn’t available and you need it to run it on multiple obstacles. You can test out all those scenarios. Get cycle times, be able to predict what’s gonna happen based on whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish. And then once you have a process that’s locked in, you can take it a step further and start looking at other technology, like feed rate optimization. And, obviously, you’re running out of time, I’m trying to be mindful of that, there isn’t time to go into how feed rate optimization works. But there is a common misconception that when you start talking about reducing cycle times, it just means I’m gonna push the machine harder, which sounds risky, and it would be. And so I just wanna emphasize that feed rate optimization is not about just about pushing a machine harder, it’s not about speeding it up, it’s also very much about slowing it down. It’s about maintaining that perfect optimum chip thickness for that given tool at any given point. And then I guess the final point I kind of wanna make is, when it falls in line with the standardization, is it’s capturing that tribal knowledge that your shop has before it leaves. Within Boeing, they’ve been talking about for years, for many, many years, they’ve been talking about the great tsunami that’s coming. And that’s just all the experience that’s retiring out. And now with layoffs on top of that, it’s getting even worse. So, you got to get away from paper like Paul’s been stressing, you’ve got to start documenting some of these processes to capture that tribal knowledge. And that includes feeds and speeds. You shouldn’t necessarily have to be relying on a machinist, they can just hear the machine and know, yeah, okay, this program where they came from this program where I need to turn it down to 75%, ’cause they’re overly aggressive, and this other one is too conservative, I’m gonna turn it up to 120%. Capture all of that happens. I’m sure it doesn’t. I mean, we’ve had people tell us that it will, we can’t optimize our code, because the operators mess with the feed rates anyways, and that really shouldn’t be happening, because that knowledge is gonna disappear at some point. You need to capture it. So, I guess, Brandon, how do you capture that tribal knowledge on the internet?

– I mean, I see that every in every shop and again, in every facet of the process from start to finish. But in the CMM world, again, I know I mentioned, some companies have two to three CMMs, there’s that one CMM, that goes down? Well, , again, the solution is unify that software, I mean, Paul, just pull up this picture, you see a manual CMM, you look at that archaic screen, people are still using that, it’s 2020. I mean, it’s a great CMM. It’s accurate, however, there’s another So upgrade to a software, which is totally possible that maybe those two other CNC controlled CMMs can also run. By unifying that same software, let’s just say that kind of flows into in process inspection, which kind of steps back a little bit before, it gets to the final inspection. But again, to kind of reduce the amount of ways that you guys scrap this, that you could have that same file that’s on a CNC, CMM, manual CMM, you can have that on the same arm. So this is an arm that you can bring to the CNC machine. So instead of wasting the time of day, maybe you guys are doing in process inspection, and that’s great. What you can do is you can bring the CMM to the machine mounted, and so therefore, you don’t have any time wasted, moving that part or, let’s say you move the parts of the CMM and came back, waste maybe a couple hours, what if you realign wrong or incorrectly? You scrap that whole part. So bringing the CMM to the CNC machine is a huge, huge save time bonus. And with that, there’s a bunch of different tools out there that people are using and some are using great, but are using in the wrong fashion. Maybe they’re not accurate enough for that part. So basically when I go, and when I go into machine shop is make sure, hey, are you using the right thing? Scanners are huge right now. Now, let’s say that some people are using them correctly, so if they send a part hey, passes on them, it goes to a customer, they do on site inspection, comes back failed, how much does that cost you. One, you have to remake all your parts, you could potentially lose that customer on the same shot. So basically upgrading everything unifying cross training your whole platform, we see Jason I mean, we’ve had a lot of successes with some of our mutual customers where the cam programmers are programming CMM. So if you have that same interface, oh, it just alleviates so much time downstream and says So with that, I mean Paul, what’s the cherry on top that you see?

– Yeah, so yeah, that’s great stuff guys. Again, when it comes down to kind of the end of the process again, having again stressing that same theme of having systems right and making sure every customer requires different paperwork, different kind of forms, some need and AS9102, some don’t, some wanna CFC, that’s special to them. Document everything that your customer wants along with those good parts you’re making, and make sure it’s a system. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to be providing. There’s not that tribal knowledge that, hey, this guy knows what kind of form this customer wants. And then as you ship that job out the door, make sure everything that went into that, is well documented and not that tribal knowledge. Make sure it’s in your system, all your setup notes, your tools that you used, your feeds and speeds, everything is all kind of packaged up nicely. So the next time you get that job, or if you get a similar part, you can just pull that up in an instant, check it all out and know exactly what you’re doing. So I think that’s about up for our time. We’re gonna open up the floor to Q&A. And there have been some that have been coming in during this time. So if you haven’t put any in yet, go ahead and do that. But we’re gonna start here. Let’s see the first one here. Brandon, what equipment does Verisurf work with?

– We work I mean, I mentioned at the very beginning, I work with over 150 devices. But really, we’re a third party metrology software. I mean, we do reverse engineering, but for inspection wise, we work with CMMs that can measure things very, very small for 3D scanners, and we also work with things that can measure a whole airplane or SpaceX rocket. We do with everything across the board. So and as far as that goes, what type of equipment? Say the CMM, we have a whole bunch of different options. There’s the size, there’s Wenzel. So what we can do is, we can interface with all those without a retrofit. So it’s a great, easy way to save mine and get again, the same unified software platform that I was discussing.

– Okay, excellent. Let’s see here. This one probably for you, Bryan, what does it take to set up a simulator?

– Good question, I guess It’s funny that, that is probably the number one question back when we could attend trade shows, that was probably the number one question that people would ask when they would come into the booth. That all looks great, but how much work is it to set up and it’s an it’s an understandable question. Setting up the simulation environment is exactly like setting up a real machine. You need NC code, you need some tools, you need fixtures, you need a stock model, and you need a virtual machine and control configuration. The control is probably the trickiest part, because that’s what’s gonna be reading and interpreting the GNM codes, the same exact codes that are gonna be processed on the physical machine. But most of those components that I just described, you’re also gonna be defining in your cam system. So for example, if you’re using Mastercam, you’ve already got, when talked about standard tool, libraries and stuff, you’ve already got your tools, you’ve defined your stock, all that stuff is already there. And then it’s just a matter of using the interface between Mastercam and Vericut to push it over. The only additional work from an end user standpoint, is to create a single coordinate system that is just saying, here’s where I want you to take all this stuff from Mastercam, and dump it on this machine, on this spot in the table. And so you just use a coordinate system to do that. But it’s really just a couple of mouse clicks. And then you’re simulating it’s just like, if you can play a I’m gonna date myself here. But if you can play a VCR you can play a you can play a simulation.

– So hey, you know what? There’s still question come in about a question, Bryan, you had an experience out of a shop where they used the simulation, the verification as a tool to train other people to get better? Would it make sense to share that?

– Sure, that was actually, it’s actually a case study that you could go out to our website and go download. And there’s not enough time to go into all the details about what they did. But long story short, they would pile everybody every Friday, they’d pile all the NC programmers into the conference room, and then they would use the simulations to show the machining strategies that they decided to use. And so they all put the work up. And it was a chance for them to show off their work. And they knew they weren’t gonna be any errors or mistakes in it, because they’ve already verified it with our software. But it was a learning tool. Because the more experienced programmers could say, well, why did you do that operation before that operations? Or why did you do the engraving there when you could have saved it for the other? Whatever. But the shop owner even though, there’s obviously a cost associated with that when you’re gonna put a bunch of labor in room at one time. But he just saw it as incredibly invaluable as a way to get the less experienced programmers up to speed quickly because you had the more experienced ones looking right at what they were doing and saying, Hey, I would have done it this way. So there’s more to that story. But so if you want to if you wanna hear the whole story and how that went down, ’cause, you can certainly just contact me.

– Sounds good. Let’s see. We have a question here. I guess this is for you, Jason, maybe we can talk about it together? Is it realistic to do I mean, or a little skepticism here, or is it realistic to do one piece flow in a job shop? Like, that seems crazy. And let me chime in here for a second.

– Sure.

– So it is absolutely possible. In our shop, we went– When we first started our shop, we were batch kings.

– We’d get an order for 1000 parts that had four ops, we would make all 1000 parts on up one, then we’d break the machine down, set it up for all 1000 parts in op two, and so on and so forth. And we thought that was the way to go, because it minimized your setup time, was just a fit, we thought that was efficient. But we didn’t realize until we went through a pretty significant lean transformation, that there was huge amounts of waste. I mean, there would have been times where, partway through that run of 1000, the tool started going bad, we weren’t doing a good enough in process check. And we scrapped out 500 of those parts, right. And you don’t realize that until later, maybe you’re in a second operation, or the final operation, and you’re finally creating the other surface so you could measure that first one, and then you realize it’s bad, and there’s nothing you can do about it. So we actually went through a pretty significant lean journey. And we developed this process that we called Bird Box. And what that actually meant, was that we would have a small, little right-sized bandsaw, like tiny little bandsaw, right next to the machine, and each machinist as they’re making parts, they would cut that raw material, they’d put it in the machine, or multiple machines sometimes, but let’s say there was three work holdings, we’d flip it across three different fixtures in the machine, mesh every cycle of finished part came out and one new piece of material went in. And then we would do our in process inspection, we would do debarring, we’d wash or clean it. And we’d put it in a bubble bag, ready to go in the box out to the customer or out to outside processing. So every cycle, from the bar right to the box. And we did almost every job that way, unless it was logistically impossible with size, for example. But it is definitely possible. And there’s a huge amount of opportunities to I mean, for example, you get a customer that has a hot order, they start wanting partials right away, you can start shipping partials, on day one, rather than shipping waiting for a whole week or more before you have your finally good part out. So what about you, Jason? You’ve any other answers for that one?

– Yeah, I mean, from what from my background, one Piece flow, is it possible? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Okay, lean isn’t just, okay, guys, we’re gonna go ahead and read a book, we’re gonna highlight toiled away until we’re ready to rock and roll. It’s the goal in mind. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to run one piece all the way through a process. But the idea of you’re running a little bit, you’re checking, your running a little bit you’re checking, it gives you flexibility. So even if you’re just a job shop, and you’re getting a PO for 200 parts, there’s always that conversation back with the customer, do you really need 200 parts, or do you really just need 40 a month? So I think there’s a little bit of a trust, if you’re tier two to tier one is giving you the job, and they’re saying, give me six months with the parts that one shot, there might be a negotiation back, let me go ahead and do one month with the parts. So there’s a little bit of a communication there. But even if they say no, we went out six months, the idea of one piece flow allows you that flexibility, like we’re talking about getting a hot job. I mean, Paul, you were at your shop, and if somebody came in as this fantasy, right? But it happens often enough. I’ll give you a million dollars, if you can crank out this hot job and you got a week to do it. What a bummer. It would be if your 400 parts into 1000 part order. And then you’re paying guys for the nights into the weekend to hurry up and get it done, so you can get the next job. So the theory of one piece flow where everything is fluid and everything can be adjusted, I think is critical. It’s not just is it possible, it’s a necessity. You have to get your shop to the point where one piece flow is as close to possible. So you have the maneuverability to take more money when it’s available to you.

– That’s great. And this kind of feeds us into the next question, this is from Chad. He says many shops are aware of the need to reduce waste, that are disconnected from the pursuit due to lack of manpower. What would we suggest to build better standardization and programming tooling simulations inspection plan? It’s a good question. Yeah. So Paul, in fact, if you don’t mind, I’d like to take just the very first part of that. Many shops are aware of the need to remove reduce waste but are disconnected from the pursuit due to lack of manpower. I’ve worked at a shop that only had 15 guys in the whole entire company. And all 15 guys were versed and trained with basically an implementation tools. So even if you are just a three or a five man shop, getting by, there’s no reason not to expose everybody to a lean thinking, and a lean process, and then making your your employees responsible for coming up with the ideas to implement them. It doesn’t have to be, I’m the manager, I’m the king, I’m the boss. And you all do what I say, a lot of that principle lien is it should be given the tools to the group, and they should be the ones moving it upstream. So if you have a lack of manpower, well, that’s great. Getting everybody cross trained, and getting everybody know learned up, if you will, on lean thinking is step one. So go buy “Lean Thinking” by James Womack, make everybody read it four times and let’s have a conversation about what are some of the basics we see right now that we could do to improve our shop.

– And, yeah, and I think you’re making some really good points. But when it comes to reducing waste, you have to be able to recognize it to begin with. And, we see a lot of shops out there that have this mentality of what we’ve always done it this way, and they don’t even recognize the waste to begin with. I used the example earlier of the managers they complain about prove out time. So my next question is naturally, okay, well, what percentage of your machining time is spent on new approvals?

– A lot.

– It’s not even tracked, it’s just a cost of doing business, we just have to go through that process. And they can’t even tell me how much time is spent. So until you start tracking that stuff, and recognizing it, you can’t really start chipping away at it. So I think that’s a really good, multi part question there that we could probably spend two hours diving into. Yeah.

– Yeah, from the inspection side for Chad’s question, I mean, that there’s a few different ways that you can do. So I mean, let’s just say you have one person in quality or two people in quality. There’s ways to automate that process. So I mean, yeah, depending on what tool you’re using to inspect that part. Usually, inspecting, it’s the quick part, the reporting side is what takes a long time, we have to input the tolerances, you have to create a plan, what if that’s all automated, so maybe if you run this part, maybe 10, 20 times you can follow a sequential plan, or let’s just say one person is a little bit more advanced than the other, you could basically say, have that advanced person write out this plan, they don’t need to understand GNT, they only need to understand the tolerances, all they have to do is just follow these simple guidelines on where to touch off on the part. And then it will create a nice clean report that can be sent to the customer in an automated fashion. And that’s what we see a lot. I’ll add something, hopefully, it’s a little bit practical. Not that those weren’t. But in our shop, talking about sort of lean education. So we put up posters all over the place of the various, like seven wastes of the Toyota Production System. And we had training sessions during some of our, company meetings about what those wastes were. And we’d sort of drilled it into our employees heads enough that they started to recognize what when they were doing something wasteful. Before you understand those, it’s hard to kind of put it together. But once you really have it drilled in. And then what they would do, is we would have these little Kaizen newspapers, basically just a sheet of paper, or a pad mounted into each area. And people would just go right over to that and say I’m doing over production right now. Just write down what they were doing. Only took a minute or two. And then once a week, a team in that department, whether it was the programming department, or the mill department, or the prototype department, or even up in the office, we would have these Kaizen meetings for like 30 minutes once a week. And we would identify, we’d look at everything that was written over that week, and we just start coming up with solutions, well, how are we gonna solve this overproduction, or this waiting time? And a lot of times, the solutions are pretty simple. You just got to put your collective brainpower to it, and you can come up with some pretty good stuff. So that’s something that worked well, for us. Hopefully, that’s useful. Thanks for your question Chad.

– All good, just go ahead Bryan.

– I was just gonna say there’s a lot of technologies that have been coming online too, I don’t even think even they’re offered by us. But these machine monitoring capabilities and even the machine tool builders have been building this capability into the controls, even though there aren’t that many shops that are utilizing it yet, but knowing that it’s coming, and once you start monitoring all these processes, and can document it, again, you can start chipping away at the inefficient processes. And so, I encourage everybody to be constantly going out and looking at the technology that’s available out there, because if you don’t do it, your competitors are. And if you wanna be in business in the long term, you’re gonna have to stay ahead of the game, which means investigating the latest technologies that are available. Another trend that we’re seeing, and I think this applies to all four of us here, is software being available on a subscription. And there’s pros and cons of that, obviously. And it’s a different ROI for any given shop. But it is at a lower cost point to get into a technology. So if you really just wanna test it, that’s a good kind of non committal way to do it. So again, I just wanna stress that, stay out there, keep looking. Keep looking at what’s coming. Yep.

– Hey Paul.

– Yes.

– So do you mind if I jump in? I had a question.

– Of course.

– I really want to hear from him. We got so many questions I was noticing that some of them are the same one, just worded differently. What if I don’t think I could afford to be lean? I mean, I guess that’s one of the ways that those worded another way is a small shop, I can’t afford to stop everybody to do Kaizen. I don’t have enough guys, we’re supposed to stop every Friday for an hour to cover lean practices. I mean, does anybody have something they could say to somebody who’s afraid of the cost of going lean? Or maybe change the status quo and switch over to something new? I’ve thought of it, I can answer first, if you guys want me to be the guinea pig for it.

– Go for it.

– Well, for me, as tough as it sounds, I don’t think everything revolves around having to spend money outright. I mean, there are solutions out there that have a cost to it, and then a cost to implement it. And then a cost to train somebody. But really, I think it starts with a desire to improve. If you think you’re doing good right now, maybe you are, but I picture our industry and I picture machining, as kind of like walking up the sandy slope. If you’re standing in place, you inevitably are sliding backwards. Everybody else is making the next step forward. They are progressing, they are using new technology and just because you think you’re in a good spot, now, if you are not taking steps forward, ultimately, you’re gonna be sitting there at the end going man, remember the good old times and now they’re not good. So don’t have the cost well, or I don’t have millions of dollars to go out and buy brand new equipment or millions of dollars to revamp everything. I think that it starts with, invite one of us in, I don’t know, up and down Washington, I go into people’s shops, and we have four our conversations about let’s take a look at what’s not working. I mean, I think everybody else is now does the same thing to some degree, right? So I think step one is before you go out and spend millions of dollars trying to build some space age, new revolution machine shop, get us in for a conversation. Let’s take a look what you got going and let’s just do a deep dive and see if you even need to spend any money at all.

– When I recently saw your old shop, Paul, one of the things that stood out to me was the fact that almost everything, aside from the machines, had wheels on it. And that and that you guys had the ability to push the equipment around for whatever made sense, for whatever given job. I mean, that really stood out to me.

– Yeah, and Ryan here is putting in a comment, lean doesn’t mean spending a ton of money. It’s true. I mean, yeah we bought some casters, put them on our granite tables, put them on our band saws, put them on our vacuum pumps, put them on our It’d reconfigure a workstation, depending on what job we were running. And, yeah, it was just benches made out of two by fours with casters on the bottom. A lot of times we would prototype out someone’s Kaizen idea with duct tape and cardboard. See how it’s gonna work. Try it out. Don’t do something super fancy right off the bat. Don’t go buy a bunch of steel weld up a really custom table, and then realize when you start trying to use it, oh, we forgot about this other thing. So start cheap, start easy. And then evolve it over time. Let’s see here.

– That fits in perfectly with what some of the questions coming in, a lot of comments along those veins for sure.

– Yeah, I’m john. Yeah, start small even it’s just moving a garbage can or a light. You’ll feel better along the journey. Yep, that’s absolutely true. So there is a question that’s been on here I just wanna get to it. It’s for me, obviously, how can pro shop help companies keep track of their cutting tools?

– I’ll take that one. No, I’m just kidding.

– We have a cutting tool module, and what we call an RTA module, which is rotating tool assemblies and essentially, it allows you to first identify your entire tool library, and we can import that even from like a Mastercam file in a CSV data. But it allows the programmers to this uniquely specify this A37 end mill, which we buy from Gar no and has these specs, is the tool that we use for this job. And it has its vendor associated with it and its price. So the way that helps, is that when a programmer says this is the set of tools I need, that feeds into purchasing, so they can make sure every one of those tools are gonna be there. And they’ll even say, this is a steel job or a titanium job, so I’m gonna go through a bunch of these, I think I’m gonna need 10 of these end mills. So everything can be here, when the job is to set up. And then out on the shop floor, you can organize your tools by those tool ID numbers actually, it’s actually better than organizing them by style. And then the machinist will know exactly what tool to set up in those folders, with what extension length, what kind of caveats. So they’re not rooting around that that drawer of half inch end mills, and you have 16 different kinds of half inch end mill when they’re trying to guess which one the programmer meant. Anyway, so that’s just a little bit about how we do that.

– But, Paul, I just want to correct you too. The problem is you’re using guards to the sandvick.

– That’s probably a good point. Yeah. So you can have multiple approved vendors for maybe it’s a style or tool. This kind of coding, this kind of corner radius. Thanks, Jonas. Let’s see here. Yeah, lots of just positive comments about starting lean. Ryan, two man shop, we just start organizing. Let’s see here. Well, we still have a little bit of time.

– Get those questions in before we’re done, huh?

– That’s right, that’s right.

– We can keep answering questions. But do you wanna put the slide up with our contact information in case they have additional questions offline? People are probably sick of staring interfaces anyway.

– No, I mean, I shaved everything right here for people. I mean, I feel pretty today. But I know most of the people on this call too, and if you forget who’s who, don’t be shy to reach out, I’ll direct you the right guy. That’s totally fine with me. So yeah, awesome, good looking dudes right there.

– I need a new picture, that’s like 10 years old. I’m definitely older than that now. All right. Let’s see here. Let’s see. There’s a lot of comments that are just comments. That’s nice you guys, thank you. So here’s one, is it realistic to go paperless? It is realistic, and it’s totally possible. Yeah, a lot of machinists especially, are fearful of doing that. They like to hold on to that print, that Big B size print that they can just look at up close and sketch things on, and write their little notes. And I guess, I’ll say that even having that is not necessarily a problem. But we need to provide mechanisms for people to share what needs to be shared down the line with others. So programmers, rather than printing off their setup sheets, and the paper, put them to PDF file and make them available out on the shop floor. We have a page on our website where we talk about shop floor computers. They don’t have to be super expensive, for 300 bucks, you can be all in on a 24 inch monitor, a computer, keyboard and mouse and a stand for it. And you can pull up PDF files from there, you could pull up spreadsheets from there, or images, taking screen captures of your Mastercam file, even those simulation videos, those I think, right Bryan? You can have those as an executable, so you can just run it and watch those.

– We did that in my last shop doing nothing but surfaces. Everybody’s able to carry surfaces around from computer to computer. So we’re saying spot on, it should be paperless.

– Yeah, yeah. And then, of course, you’re gonna have to put stuff back in. So having your inspection forms, not be paper based. So spreadsheets are a great solution for that. Of course, some of the RP systems have built in inspection, many don’t. But that’s gotta to be part of the equation too. But it’s definitely possible. And the improvements that you can see on that, the return on investment of getting rid of paper, is enormous. Not just the cost of the paper, the cost of those expensive printers, but all the waste that’s associated with that. All right. Let’s see here. Can we get a temp license to test out your software? Hmm. Anyone wanna take that one first?

– I’ll do it, but do it. But I’ll start there if you want. absolutely not.

– Yeah, you can get licenses. But it’s only as good as the driver was familiar with the machine. I’ve had the pleasure to try driving a Lamborghini before install it out about 30 times before he got out of gear. That’s really, from my standpoint, that’s where who you choose to partner with makes all the difference. I know, for our company, sure, I can get you a license but I insist on hand holding and making sure what you’re doing, getting you up and going. And then if you wanna take off and see what it can do, be my guest. But we absolutely insist on working with you step by step to make sure that it’s successful.

– Yeah, that’s always our concern as well. As the training factor. The simulation does not like I described earlier, it does not have to be complicated at all. It can be a matter of a couple of mouse clicks and hitting go. And then there’s a bunch of analysis tools available to you. But this is also a product that’s been around for 32 years. And we have to support the most complex CNC machinery in the world, and people do some crazy stuff out there. So if you start just poking around different menus, and Windows and opening things up very quickly, it can just look overly complicated. And then people are like, oh, this is too much complication. So that’s always the concern about just saying, here, try it out, without providing some kind of training along with it to say, here’s how you’re gonna step through it with your process. So that’s just something we would wanna address for sure.

– Likewise, same thing. It’s just a recipe for disaster if we just give you a license, and don’t hold your hand, but we will all come on site, depending where you’re at, with code restrictions and understand where we can do a go to meeting or web demo like this. Yeah, we’ll be here to assist you.

– Yeah, and same exact for us. We have demo systems that we give credentials in to play around with it. But we always do training sessions upfront, and typically have the first couple of times where we’re just there kind of watching over your shoulder and showing you what to do. Because, all of these products are super involved, super complex. Powerful, of course, but that means you gotta you got to learn it. So you’re not stalling out your Lamborghini 30 times.

– There are very few things as humiliating as thinking you’re super cool. And then you’re gonna show everybody how cool you are. And then I’m not qualified to drive this car. I guess I should have paid better attention to the instructions. It’s, pretty humbling.

– Yeah, yeah. We probably have time for one more. Here’s one here. I guess for you, Jason, how do we– What are some things we can do with our programming software to make it more lean? Or to make our process more lean?

– Oh, boy, you’d make me the last question and tell me I’ve got 60 seconds to do it huh? Okay. What can you do to be more lean? Well, I’ll say this, checklists. They’re a real bummer to have to follow a checklist, but there are, if you develop the checklist for programming, did I use the standard tool list? Or am I reinventing my own every single time? If you’re having a generalist tool one of this machine three there, five there, seven there, there’s a lot of setup involved going from program to program. So build a standard checklist of use standard tools, use standard fixturing, make the header of my program look the same. If you have a post that doesn’t behave the way you want, let’s get it fixed. So I think there’s a lot of standardization and a lot of focus on plug and play. And then really, even with programming, I mean, the tool paths are one thing. You can learn whatever software you’re using, you can learn how to drive that software, somebody out there will help you and if you’re in, Northwest, I’m the guy. But I think that a lot of it has to do with building standard practices. And then, being religious about making sure you follow them. I think that’s a big key. And then feel free to reach out to the the Mastercam guy, the MLC CAD systems, Jason Koger. to do too small. Go ahead and make sure you take that email address down and say I’ve got a question. Of course, we’ll work with you on that.

– Yeah. And so Justin has a similar question here. He says, we have four programmers, and lots of legacy programs and standard tooling. And problem is trying to get standard programming methodologies and feeds and speeds and depths of cut. Is there a decent way to gather all of that legacy information into a standard database?

– That sounds like a programming question. You wanna party or you want me to do it?

– You go for it to you, that’s you.

– Oh man, okay. So this is my opinion. Now that I said that, I think going back to legacy programs, I just archive them and deal with them as they come up. But let’s say job one, two, three, four, you’ve run 100 times now, we’re implementing these new standards, I would say, there’s nothing that I’ve seen that I’ll just go through a code and say, oh, you’ve used to have to generate 100 without depth of cuts, 75% step or I don’t see a lot of that. I’ve never seen software that will do that. What I encourage people to do is, you’re gonna have a programmer you trust, right? There’s a guy that you go, that’s the one you’re going to develop my systems. If you’re cutting 718 ink canal, and know that a 5% step over with this ISCAR tool at this depth if the code works, build that as a template in your software. So that any time, doesn’t matter if you’re the superstar programmer, or the junior programmer, he’s able to bring that tool path in, it’s gonna have this depth of cut a step over, it’ll even remember speeding feeds, at least in some of the software, no ours does. So build a template for that specific application for that one tool path, Then when John Doe takes program one, two, three, four, from the dark ages to today, and you’re gonna reprogram it to rerun it, when you see a roughing routine, you know has just been a problem. Bring in your template for roughing inconel, or to the roughing 718 inconel. And then pick that geometry and drag and drop it into the new tool path. And then you’ll have applied the new standards to an old way of doing things. I don’t think it’s necessarily valuable to go through all legacy program reprogram from scratch, but if you always have that one rough routines been crap, no problem, bring a new process in, re associate geometry, and then copy and paste it into that section of program.

– You can you can drop it into a simulation program and then you would be able to gather some of that information. But again, you need the same stuff that the machine tool would need. So you would still need some tools to find, you’d still need to know what machine it was gonna be run on, you’d have to have a virtual equivalent of that same machine, but then it would so if you just wanted to take the jobs that run really well and you wanted to gather information out of those jobs, you could set up a simulator for just that. And you would be able to pull all that feed and speed information, step over depth of cut volume of material being removed, all of that stuff would be be analyzed. But it would be I mean, if you had a whole bunch of legacy programs, that’d be a big undertaking.

– So not an automated.

– There’s no doubt. Yeah, it’s a big undertaking no matter what. But those are good, great points, you guys. So we do need to wrap up. There’s one last question I just want to get to. Company says they have more than 30 machines, 60,000 square feet, it’s a big outlay to go digital everywhere. So what I would say about that is, I mean, first of all, look at how little you can actually spend on a device. There are ways using like a Linux, a little Linux box, a Raspberry Pi We can probably be up and running for 200 bucks, monitor, keyboard, mouse, computer. Or, and then starting with a lower density. If you have a set of machines, where there’s three machines all note close to each other a couple of ladies facing each other on a bench, just start with one and share that. And then kind of overtime, kind of increase your number of your density of devices. Or if you have fewer people than machines, then just get people in a Chromebook or something like that, that is pretty inexpensive and they can just kind of carry it around going to the machines they’re working on, or some combination of both. So anyway, just a couple of tips on that. I do think we need to wrap it up. I know I’m late to another meeting already. But thank you everyone for all your time. Hopefully this has been useful for you. Thanks for all your great questions. And we will send out the recording for this and follow up email. If you guys have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

– Yeah, thank you everybody.

– All right, good job you guys. Yep, thank you. All right.

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