X-Carve Programming … Shop Floor Programming … with KipwareM®

As we continue to ramp up our sister woodworking company … KÄRV … we continue to demonstrate  and prove our mantras for our Kipware® machine shop software. Metalworking operations … woodworking operations … both have a lot of similarities and requirements and we continue to prove our Kipware® real world machine shop design and features in our now real world woodworking environment.

We recently blogged regarding how we utilize our KipwareCYC® and KipwareQTE® machine shop cycletime and cost estimating software to estimate retail costs for some of our wood products. If you missed it … see the full article HERE.

We are also proving our “not every job requires a CAD/CAM system” programming mantra at KÄRV as well. We recently put our KipwareM® – conversational CNC programming software for milling … to work on a shop floor programming project we were working on in the KÄRV workshop. If you haven’t read our article on shop floor programming vs. CAD/CAM programming … it’s quite the eye-opener … you can read the full article HERE.

The Rest of the Story …

We came up with an idea for a unique clock design that featured a quartz clock movement inside a slice of an oak log. To house the clock body … we needed to mill a 3″ diameter hole in the slice … and we wanted to use our X-Carve CNC router to mill the hole. Simple enough … and it really illustrates how a simple programming project could turn into an overblown programming project if we were to use a CAD/CAM program to create that G code program.

Here’s the finished product

In a CAD/CAM system we would have had to first create a drawing … why? … and then use that drawing to create the toolpath. Some extra steps that would not only cost us time but that time expense has to go somewhere and that would mean additional labor costs associated with the cost of the clock … which would eventually be for sale on our website. Want one … get it HERE !!

So we started KipwareM® … no drawing required … and with a couple of fill-in-the-blank forms completed … we had our G code program to rough pocket and finish mill … using a helical milling routine … the 3″ hole needed to mount the clock movement. Here are some screenshots of the forms … simple, plain english, fill-in-the-blank forms with tons of machining options that created a quick and efficient toolpath … no drawing nor drawing time required Bang bang done !!

As I mentioned we roughed the pocket using a pocketing routine … but we finished the side walls using a helical type cutting routine. Very easy to create in KipwareM® and posted out using KipwareXC® with our X-Carve Profile. We sent the G code and drove the X-Carve using the Universal G Code Sender application. The results were outstanding and the fit for the clock movement was perfect … first shot.

Needless to say we saved ourselves a ton of time by not having to create a drawing and by using our shop floor programming ( not CAD/CAM programming ) model and KipwareM®. We did the programming right at the machine … no expensive CAD/CAM system required and no drawing or CAD/CAM experience required.

AND … we like the results !!

Another unique wood design produced in the KÄRV workshop !!

If you would like to learn more about KÄRV woodworking and see our other products and designs … please visit our website … www.KarvWoodworking.com

If you would like to explore our conversational, shop floor programming applications or any of our other REAL WORLD machine shop software … please visit our website … www.KentechInc.com

Kenney Skonieczny
President – Kentech Inc.
Woodworker – KÄRV Woodworking

Cost Estimating for a Wooden Plaque with KipwareQTE®

If you have followed our Blog … you might know that back in October of 2015 we started a sister company to Kentech Inc. called KÄRV. KÄRV is a woodworking business … is just getting started … and will be producing custom, handmade furniture and unique wood carvings for resale.

www.KarvWoodworking.com

We are using the Kipware® software from Kentech Inc. in KÄRV to both create the G code programs for our X-Carve CNC router and to estimate cycletime and costs for the products we will be producing for resale. So we are putting Kipware® to the test in the real world … this time the world of woodworking … for additional in-the-trenches use.

We also wanted to document some of the use of Kipware® in various areas of KÄRV … so this post is dedicated to the cost estimating of a wooden, 3D carved plaque we have for sale on our website.

We wanted to illustrate through the video available below how we used our KipwareQTE® to create the retail price for the plaque considering material cost, tooling cost, labor cost and non-machining costs. Metalworking … woodworking … they both have very similar aspects as they relate to manufacturing … so this video is a great way to see KipwareQTE® in action in a woodworking environment … but with a lot of similarities with a metalworking one.

For additional information on all our Kipware® CNC and Machine Shop software titles … please visit www.KentechInc.com.

For additional information on KÄRV woodworking … please visit www.KarvWoodworking.com

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Shop Floor Programming … Why It’s Different and Why It Matters

If you have ever worked and lived on the shop floor … as we did for over 30+ years … you know there is a difference between programming in a job shop type environment  … what we call every day programming / shop floor programming … and complex “die and mold” programming which is the true essence of CAD/CAM and CAD/CAM programming.

It’s a fact … it’s real … and it can DEFINITELY mean the difference between profit and loss. 

This post is dedicated to exploring exactly what we mean …. because there is a HUGE difference in employing a SHOP FLOOR PROGRAMMING model vs. a CAD/CAM PROGRAMMING model. 

SHOP FLOOR PROGRAMMING

Our definition of shop floor programming is the programming of the simpler, everyday type workpieces on the shop floor … perhaps directly at the machine … by the shop floor personnel using simpler G code creation tools like Kipware® conversational. It is in contrast to the CAD/CAM programming model where CAD/CAM software … with the start of everything dependent on a CAD drawing … is used by dedicated “CAD/CAM” guy(s) to create G code programs. Our 30+ years of shop floor experience have proven to us that everyday operations like simple milling … drilling … tapping … turning … grooving … boring … for the everyday type parts machined in 95% of job shops around the world every day … can be created more efficiently using the  shop floor programming model.

In a job shop and / or production environment … shop floor programming can especially pay big dividends when the statement “the more the merrier” is employed. The more personnel that are involved in the creation of G code programs … the better the efficiency and the better the output. And of course, allowing shop floor personnel to create the simpler, everyday CNC programs using tools like our Kipware® conversational means increased profits along with that increased efficiency and output.

In most cases … being a good chipmaker is the key experience requirement. Someone who can cut chips … knows material removal and all that that encompasses … and knows fixturing and workholding. While the knowledge of G code in any CNC environment is always essential … tools like Kipware® conversational can assist those chipmakers with limited G code knowledge create fast and efficient  G code programs from scratch. Many chipmakers have a handle on G code but creating a G code program from scratch can be a daunting, cumbersome and sometimes slow task. The reverse is also true … CAD/CAM / computer operators often lack the chipmaking and fixturing expertise of the shop floor personnel resulting in non-efficient CAD/CAM programs or constant re-programming because of real world consequences.

CAD/CAM PROGRAMMING

Is contrast to the points outlined above … the programming of complex … what we’ll call “die and mold programming” … should be the main prerequisite  behind a CAD/CAM programming model. CAD is an essential tool for design and engineering … and while the the CAM portion of the CAD/CAM model can be disputed … for complex, 3D programming die and mold programming … it to is essential.

However, using a complex CAD/CAM system and requiring CAD/CAM trained personnel to create G code programs for the simpler, everyday type workpieces can mean the exclusion of valuable chipmakers from the programming process. It can oftentimes lead to slow program creation and thus decreased efficiency, productivity and output. The fact is … CAD/CAM was never designed for EVERYDAY programming. It was created to handle complex design and the programming of complex aircraft and die / mold components. It was always an afterthought to adept it to production programming. The mere fact that everything starts with a drawing inherently makes it more complex and cumbersome for this task.

Debating the CAM in CAD/CAM

Even when utilizing a CAD application for design … still not every workpiece should be or needs to be programmed through the CAM module nor by the “CAD/CAM programmer”. The point we want to make here is that CAD can be different than CAD/CAM. While having a drawing and design application … a CAD program … can be and oftentimes is essential … the CAM part is up for discussion. Handing off a drawing and having the simpler workpieces … the everyday type workpieces … programmed on the shop floor can free up additional programming resources to concentrate on the more complex programming required for the more complex components. Shop floor programming can be the key that unlocks increased efficiency and productivity … even when using a CAD ( and / or CAD/CAM ) programming model.

And home and hobby shops?

One man, small shops and hobby makers can also reap the rewards of NOT programming every workpiece through a CAD/CAM system and using a shop floor programming application. The quick and efficient programming made possible through tools like Kipware® conversational can assist in realizing the quick and accurate production of workpieces … whether a single component, multiple components or in production. Spending time creating drawings … because every CAD/CAM program starts with a CAD model … for even the simplest of operations … can slow down, bog down, and waste time that home and hobby shops can’t afford to waste.

Although usually a CAD system is required in these environments … mainly because small shops and one man shops also do their own design … shop floor programming and tools like Kipware® conversational can also be an essential part of their efficiency.


Bottom line …

CAD/CAM is a great tool. But it can be overkill … can often bog down a programming environment … and can remove good chipmakers from the programming process. These chipmakers are more often than not the keys to unlocking a good SHOP FLOOR PROGRAMMING SYSTEM and the benefits that can come from that.

Don’t be fooled by the CAD/CAM marketing.
Don’t get caught in CAD/CAM overkill.

We invite you to explore Kipware conversational and see how shop floor programming can set you and your shop floor free !!

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

When is a CNC Program More Than JUST G Code?

… when it’s a set-up sheet as well.

Most people are familiar with the ability of most CNC controls to include COMMENTS in the CNC G code program itself. Comments are designated in a variety of ways from :

  1. ( THIS IS A FANUC AND OKUMA COMMENT ) … any text inside (  ) is considered a comment.
  2. ! THIS IS AN ACRAMATIC COMMENT … any text following the ! is considered a comment.
  3. ; THIS IS A FAGOR COMMENT … any text following the ; is considered a comment.
  4. and on and on we could go.

Comments can be a real help when they include operator messages … such as :

M00 ( TURN PART AROUND )
or
M00 ! CHECK DIMENSION A

… but comments can go well beyond operator messages and can turn your G code program into a complete set-up doc as well that includes tool information, part zero locations and even stock descriptions.

Most people will create either a paper or digital tool sheet / list and / or set-up sheet / list that is stored and re-called when the corresponding G code program is going to be run again. The set-up personnel refer to these docs to set the machine up … loading required tools and setting height offsets and work offsets. Works great … no problems. But is there a better alternative? The answer is a “could be” yes. By storing this information directly in the G code program using the COMMENT capability of your CNC control. For example … something like this :

O1234
( PART #1234 )
( PROVEN PROGRAM : 7/2/2014 )
( PROGRAMMER : JM )
( PART LOCATED IN VISE USING JAWS JW-1234 )
( STOP SET-UP IS RIGHT SIDE – WORKPIECE STOP AGAINST FLANGE )
( X/Y PART ZERO IS LOWER LEFT CORNER )
( Z0 = TOP FINISH SURFACE )
( T1 / H1 = #3 CENTER DRILL )
( T2 / H22  = 1/2 DRILL )
( T3 / H3 = .500 CARBIDE END MILL )

So what is the advantage of keeping this info directly in the G code program using the COMMENTS capability of the CNC control?

  1. Harder to misplace … if you’re going to run the program, you need the program … and all the set-up info is right there stored right inside the G code program.
  2. Complete info is there for all to see at any time … no rummaging for loose paperwork or docs.
  3. Any edits or changes can be made directly in the program … when the running program is saved after execution … all the current set-up info is changed and saved as well including all updated data.

We often get asked … “Won’t this slow down my program execution speed?” The truth is that it will … but it will also be so minimal that usually the cost savings of having comments and all the convenience that comes with it far outweigh any reduction in program execution time. Rummaging around for lost documentation or re-creating lost documentation would be the real money waster.

Just a little something to think about if you haven’t considered COMMENTS already in your CNC programming. We touched on only a few points here … but we’re sure you can find many more benefits depending on the capabilities or lack thereof pertaining to your particular CNC programming operation. The fact is that expanding the use of COMMENTS in your CNC programming could be a real time and money saving alternative to digital or paper documentation.

Until next time … Happy Chip Making !!
Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Building the X-CARVE for KÄRV Woodworking

As mentioned in our previous post … we are in the process of creating and setting up a sister company to Kentech Inc. … called KÄRV.

KÄRV will allow us to take our metalworking talents … along with the Kipware® software we designed and built at Kentech … to the woodworking stage as we create custom, handmade furniture and unique wood carvings and introduce them to the KÄRV product line.

We will be using our quoting and estimating software to help determine pricing … and our conversational CNC programming software to help create G code programs for our X-CARVE CNC router.

And all along the way … we will be blogging about it all here. So we invite you to visit often and see Kipware® in action … and maybe even discover some KÄRV products that you might like to own !!


We began back on October 22 by registering KÄRV as a business in our city … started setting up our workshop … ordered our X-CARVE … and now we have completed the build and test cut for the X-CARVE.

20161102_114331

We waited for a little over (3) weeks to receive the X-CARVE … which seemed like an eternity … after we placed the order. That was a little disappointing. Of course the X-CARVE came un-assembled … and in many many pieces. But the good new was the step-by-step instructions available from INVENTABLES … the creators of the X-CARVE were just fabulous. Very in-depth … easy to follow … and coupled with some patience we went from box to completed assembly in about 24 total hours. One not-so-nice event was that while we were able to build the complete machine … the controller was back-ordered. So the completed machine sat and waited for almost 1 week while we waited for the controller. Finally we had to make a few calls to INVENTABLES to gently nudge them and we received the controller … and set out to test carve.

20161115_185658


We decided to program some simple lettering for our test cut … and make a little sign for the workshop. We used Vectric VCARVE software which we bought from INVENTABLES when we purchased our X-CARVE. The software appears to be quite powerful and it was real easy to create our desired toolpath.

image_list

We cut the letters reversed … leaving .010 of material on the back edge just to hold everything together. Then we glued the letters to a backing piece of wood … turned the whole assemble over and sanded off the .010 of material to reveal the letters. Not bad for a first sample.

So now we are ready to move onto bigger and better things !!
Stay tuned … or visit us at www.KarvWoodworking.com

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Why Use Cutter Compensation In Your CNC Programming ?

The story has been circulating here about a support issue that was raised recently where a Kipware® conversational customer inquired about how to have KipwareT® output program coordinates using the tool center vs. using G41/G42 cutter compensation and the imaginary tool tip on the control. The conversation went something like this :

Support Staff : “Why would you want to do that? That’s really not a good programming practice.”

Client : “Well all our programs are written like that.”

Support Staff : “OK … but that’s not a good programming practice. When we created Kipware® conversational we wanted to include best programming practice so KipwareT® outputs G41 / G42 and does all the calculations and automatically includes all start-up and cancel blocks and code … so it creates a better program. No worries … even if you don’t know how to program it KipwareT® does it all for you.”

Client : “Yes but nobody programs like that.”

Really? Nobody out there programs like that? We find that hard to believe.

So … we decided to post some of our main reasoning for considering the use of cutter compensation on the control as “Best Programming Practice”. If you agree with our points … we hope that you will consider making the change … getting educated … and to start creating your G code programs using G41 / G42 cutter compensation.

cutter_comp1

  1. Program Coordinates … programming to the tool tip center means that coordinates in the program do not reflect actual part print coordinates. Coordinates are based on the tool tip center rather than on the part dimensions. You can imagine the trouble and confusion that happens when edits need to be made.
  2. Tool Interchange – Turning … since the G code was written for a specific tool radius … the program will only function correctly for that tool radius. Decide to use a 1/64 radius for finish when the program was written for a 1/32 radius … re-program or re-generate the toolpath.
  3. Tool Interchange – Milling … I think this point probably comes into play more for milling G code than turning G code. Does your shop always have perfect .500 end mills? If so … WHY ???? Re-grinding end mills is quite a cost saver … but it means your end mills might be .485 or something odd. If you use G41 / G42 … who cares? Just enter the correct offset value.
  4. Dimensional Adjustments … Come on, this is the real world. There is no reason to keep running back and forth to the CAD/CAM guy or programming office when dimensional adjustments need to be made during production … and they will be because cutting conditions are not theoretical, they’re real !!. Cutter compensation and part / tool offsets can handle probably 99.99% of all dimensional adjustments. Use the power of the control !!

Some of the main reasons we hear for why clients don’t use cutter compensation ( and none of them are valid by the way ) …

  1. Nobody taught me. Come on … grab a hold of your future and do some “playing” at the machine … or read for yourself. This is a truly important programming tool … you need to know hoe to use it if you want to go anywhere.
  2. Nobody uses it.  Like our scenario above … just keeping following the crowd … over the cliff. If I ran that shop … the guy that comes to me and says “I think we need to change the way we think about cutter compensation” would have more of my respect than the guy who gives me the excuse “That’s the way we always did it.”

“I’m not stubborn … 

it’s just that doing things your way is stupid.”

After having spent more than 30+ years creating … editing … teaching … G code and running shops on a day-to-day basis … cutter compensation is one of the most mis-understood and mis-used programming feature. And also the most important tool a programmer and operator and shop foreman has at his/her disposal.

If you agree … want to learn more … or just want some additional reading … below is a link to one of our previous posts that dealt with this issue also … CLICK HERE for that article.

Unfortunately CAD/CAM systems have made it so easy to program with tool tip radius … but in the real world, on the shop floor, it can be a real detriment to productivity and efficiency. We urge any CNC programmer out there who is not using cutter compensation on the control to step up and take control of your future … get educated on cutter compensation … and use cutter compensation in your G code. Your future will be a lot brighter … and profitable.

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

We’re taking our talents to …

After 30+ years in the metalworking industry … we are about to expand our scope as I TAKE MY TALENTS TO … WOOD !!

decision

On October 22, 2016 … KÄRV was born !!

Personally I have been dabbling in woodworking for quite a while and I felt the time had come to take it to the next level.  I mean why not?? Through Kentech Inc. we have developed all the software needed to operate a manufacturing business through our quoting and estimating … CNC programming … and shop utility software. When you come right down to it … making products from wood is very similar to making products from metal. A collaboration between Kärv and Kentech is a NATURAL !!

We invite you to follow our progress along here at the Kipware Blog and on our CNC Machinist Blog as we rev up. We will be detailing our progress as we receive and set-up our X-CARVE cnc router from Inventables. We we will be illustrating and blogging all the steps from unpacking to first cut at the blogs … so please follow along.

After we get the X-CARVE up and running we will be illustrating and blogging about how we integrate our Kipware® quoting and estimating software and Kipware® programming software into winning work … and producing work !! … so please follow along.

karv_sign2

We will also be publishing more on the offerings from Kärv on the Kärv website … www.KarvWoodworking .com. So please visit the website as well. Who knows … you might even find some items of interest for yourself or for gifts.

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Craftsman and Maker … www.KarvWoodworking.com

Deciphering M CODES for Your CNC Machine

Recently we have been working with some Kipware® conversational clients assisting them in setting up their Kipware® post processor blocks for their G code output. With the addition of our EIA MENU option … users now have greater flexibility in using machine functions ( M ) functions in their G code to accomplish specific tasks. One example might be … parts catcher UP or DOWN to catch a part being parted-off … or chuck OPEN and CLOSE during a bar feed operation … or 4th axis CLAMP and UNCLAMP for CNC mill.

During these sessions we are coming across the situation where the end user doesn’t know the specific M for their machine to accomplish some of these tasks. And for whatever reason … manuals lost or misplaced … machine was purchased used and no manuals were included … or whatever … the end user does not have any Operator or Programmer manuals for their machine which would normally outline the M codes and their function. Without the manuals … they have no way of finding out what M functions control what. OR DO THEY ??

Let’s start this journey with a brief explanation of the HOW’s and WHY’s of CNC M functions. 

  1. First … there is no “industry” standard for M functions. Although you might find that M08 and M09 or M03 and M04 work for most CNC machines … there is not an industry standard that says they must meet a certain criteria.
  2. M functions are designed by the machine tool builder … not the control manufacturer. So you may have (5) Fanuc controlled machines in your shop … some Mori Seiki’s some Hitachi some Leadwell … all with different M functions. Because the M function circuits are designed by the machine tool builder and not Fanuc.

With those basic facts … when you ask your buddy “What’s the M function to open the chuck?” … and he says “M11” … and it doesn’t work on your machine … now you know why.

So how can you find out the M functions for your machine WITHOUT an Operators or Programming manual?

One of the best ways is to use either the electrical or ladder diagram for the machine. Although most Operator or Programming manuals get lost along the way … mostly because they are not kept with the machine but rather float around the office or shop … electrical diagrams ( which outline the electrical circuitry of the machine ) and ladder diagrams ( which outline the logic of the machine ) are most often kept inside the machines electrical cabinet. Open up the doors and you will usually find one or the other or both.

Even if you’re not electrical savvy … the circuits are pretty clearly labelled and you can find say the CHUCK OPEN circuit and trace things back to find the appropriate M function. Again … because they are built and designed by the machine tool builder and their electrical outline is outside the realm of the control … these circuits are contained in the machines electrical documentation … not the docs for the control.

electrical_circuit_pic

electrical_circuit_zoom_pic

Above is a pic of an electrical diagram for a Shizuoka CNC vertical mill … with an exploded view on the bottom. You can see fairly easily even without any electrical savvy that the M10 command will control the 4th axis clamping function. 

With today’s more sophisticated controls … oftentimes the ladder diagram is available directly on the machine controls CRT. You can pull up the ladder and even search for the appropriate function command … but in other cases the “old fashioned” printed ladder can also usually be found in the machines electrical cabinet.

Taking a look at either the electrical diagram or ladder will usually result in some additional road or path to travel to find the appropriate M function on your machine. A simple execution of an MDI command is a good test to see what happens. The old Trial and Error method will open up additional doors or produce the desired results.

M functions are powerful options on your CNC machine that can help automate many tasks and make your manufacturing more efficient. Know that you know the trick to discovering the M functions on your CNC machine … why not peruse your electrical or ladder diagram and see if there are any you might be missing in your programming?

Like what you see?
Please visit us at www.KentechInc.com

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Guidelines for Calculating Machine HOURLY RATE

We tout this fact all the time in our marketing … at Kentech Inc. we are MACHINISTS … we cut chips, we programmed, we ran shop floors for years … then we became software engineers and designers and built software products we saw were lacking during those years. What we refer to as Real World Machine Shop Software. 

As a result, many of our clients come to us to take advantage of that experience … especially those just starting out. Since quoting and estimating is one of the first tasks a new shop needs to get right … we get asked quite a lot of questions about these areas. Our KipwareCYC® ( machining cycletime estimating software ) and KipwareQTE® ( cost estimating / quoting software ) titles are two of our most popular titles. One of the “hot” topics we encounter during online presentations of these titles is often concerning the cost to charge for a machining or a shop rate. So we thought it was a good time to add a blog post with some guidelines we feel are simple enough … but important enough … that can get you to an accurate figure.

Since many shops will utilize an hourly rate as a basis for charging for machining time, this post is dedicated to some helpful guidelines on how to calculate that machining hourly rate. Below are some points we consider important when calculating the hourly rate for a particular machine. The areas requiring calculations include :

Equipment – Cost Per Hour of Operation … a common formula : (machine purchase cost + expected lifetime maintenance cost) / expected hours of operating life.

Direct Labor Cost per Hour … a common formula : (total annual labor costs + taxes + benefits + paid time off) / (total annual hours worked – breaks and training time)

Overhead Cost Per Hour  : Any costs not directly involved in machining a part is overhead. These include costs for administrative staff salary, equipment, furniture, building lease, maintenance and office supplies. Calculate the annual costs of these, then divide by total labor or machine hours for the year. This will be your overhead cost per hour

Once the above costs are calculated … you can use the formulas and guidelines below to arrive at either a “general” shop hourly rate or an hourly rate based on a specific piece of equipment.

General Machine Shop Hourly Rate … a common formula : Average overall shop rate = (average machine cost per hour + labor and overhead cost per hour) x markup

Machine Specific Hourly Rate … a common formula : (specific machine(s) cost per hour + labor + overhead cost per hour) x markup

Somewhat simplified … and usually a work in progress as factors may change. It is important to gather all the figures in the formulas above as best you can … as accurate as you can … and to keep tabs on any factors that may change along the way.

Estimating

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Shop Efficiency Series Part 6 : Gauging Your Shop’s Efficiency with the Magnificent 7

We have dedicated a lot of time and brought out a lot of ideas in our Shop Efficiency series … but most have been based “on the shop floor” and have targeted machining … set-up … and tooling. Quite a few clients have written us to ask about the business side … more of the “How do I actually know if my shop is efficient” … which is a great question. So in this post we turn our attention to the shop management and specifically ways of gauging your shop efficiency.

magnificent_seven

I have listed a few of what I consider critical areas in this Shop Efficiency post … one’s that I feel are among the easiest to gauge and important to watch … what I call the Magnificent Seven. The points below are not in the order of most importance … just simply a list of all the metrics. Creating a spreadsheet and taking a daily count with most of these factors will allow you to see the results as they happen … and over time will reveal the ups and downs of the shop in general … and allow you to make corrections. You can start your journey on the first of the month … for example … and take a few minutes every day or every week to fill in the numbers … building the information in the spreadsheet as you go along. Make a graph … and watch what these factors will reveal. If you stick with it … you will be shocked … maybe happily … maybe not.

(1) Revenue Per Man Hour

Revenue per Man-hour is the annual revenue ( or do it by month ) divided by the total paid man-hours, including paid vacations and overtime. Keeping a running total of these activities and although this is a general look at the numbers … it can be very telling.

(2) Lead Time

Customer Order Lead Time includes order-entry through production to shipment for every job. Again, start a running list from the first of the month and carry on. This stat will reveal your shop efficiency as well as give you a chance to look at the quantity of work going through the shop … and the time frame it takes to go from order received to revenue received.

(3) Labor Turnover

quittingLabor Turnover Rate is the number of voluntary and involuntary separations divided by the typical number of employees. Hopefully you won’t be keeping a monthly log of this stat … but keeping a log of the turnover rate will still yield a telling tale. Although this stat has it’s own revelation … it also shows one key point regarding efficiency. When an employee leaves a company ( for any reason ) he / she also takes a piece of that company’s memory and experiences with them. That loss of memory or experience can lead to efficiency and productivity loss. A company that experiences high turnover rates needs to find ways to insure that experiences and memory don’t leave the building along with the employee. A low labor turnover rate … as the inverse … helps achieve and maintain high performance, productivity and efficiency.

(4) Completion Rate

This factor can be described as the On-Time Completion Rate. It is the percentage of goods delivered on time. This is … obviously … a direct result of shop efficiency. Keep a log for every job going through the shop and how it fared in the On-Time Completion Rate.

(5) Scrap and Rework

scrap

This factor is the Scrap and Rework as a percentage of shop sales. Scrap and rework cost time and money. Some scrap and even some rework is inevitable … but this factor may be most useful as an indicator of how well things are going out on the shop floor. An high scrap and rework percentage is an early tip-off that something … or someone … needs a deeper look.

(6) Machine Uptime

Total Machine Uptime is the hours of production as a percentage of the total operating hours for the shop per week. In other words, what percentage of an average shift are each of your shop’s machines running. Basically put … your employees get paid every day whether they are productive or not … idle machines are not making that money even though the employees are getting paid. Therefore, how much a machine is up and running becomes an important factor for determining just how productive and profitable that shop is.

(7) Machine Availability

Machine Availability is the time machines are actually available for use compared to the time they are supposed to be available. Unscheduled maintenance or other problems will reduce a machine’s expected availability … and impact production schedules negatively which in turn reduce the ability of a shop to deliver product on time.

There will be some out there that utter the phrase “I know all this just by being out in the shop every day.” And that may be true. But seeing the numbers on “paper” ( it might be your computer screen ) is much more telling … and much more emphatic … and makes the point much more clearer.

So … there you have it … the Magnificent Seven. Keeping a close eye on these factors or metrics will most definitely put your shop’s efficiency in glaring focus … and will most likely open your eyes and mind to whole list of other metrics that may be pertinent to your particular shop and operation. Taking the time to develop and review your information as it develops will prove to be more than worth the effort … and keeping the faith will insure your shop is on the straight and steady track.

Estimating

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.