Category Archives: Machine Shop Management

Topics in this category are geared toward the running the machine shop from a managers perspective.

CNC Lathe Tool Turret – How to Properly Distribute Your Tools

I love the fact that as a former CNC service tech I am now able to pass my experiences in machine repair onto others through the use of our BLOG. I have seen a lot in my many years in the field and I feel that I have some valuable tips and tricks to pass on to others … and love to do it. ( PS … If you haven’t subscribed to our BLOG NEWSLETTER you can do so in the left toolbar. This way you can keep on top of our valuable tips and tricks. )

In this post I would like to touch on the proper way to load your tooling onto your CNC lathe turret. Seems like a pretty simple thing but actually doing it improperly can cause turret misalignment and even fatigue over time and lead to damage to the turret indexing mechanism. So hopefully a few quick pointers will help your CNC lathe enjoy many years of worry free service.

If you have a mill … vice and fixture placement carries the same type of consideration. See this blog post for more on that ;  http://kentechinc.biz/move-that-vise/

WEIGHT

The first and main consideration is to evenly distribute the weight around the turret. Keep in mind that ID tool holders weigh considerably more than OD turning tool holders. In the process of loading tools and seeking clearance for indexing and cutting … you might be tempted to load all the longer tools (usually the ID drills and boring bars) on one side … and all the shorter tools (OD turning and grooving tools) on the other … and there is the problem as the pic below illustrates.

This type of configuration put all the weight with the ID holders and makes the turret unbalanced.  It works for cutting as it keeps the tool interference issue off the table … but should be avoided as much as possible. The pic below illustrates  a more balanced and healthy approach to tool distribution.

WHY WEIGHT MATTERS

The reason balanced weight distribution matters you ask? As the turret rotates to index tools … and new machine index speed is pretty fast … even weight distribution insures that the turret stops … and clamps … in an efficient and let’s say less stressful manner. With unequal weight distribution … the turret may overshoot during indexing and be unable to clamp … causing a lock up … or it can cause uneven wear on the curvic coupling over time … the mechanism used for the accurate turret face to turret body clamping. You can watch the turret index, stop and lock and if the movement seems clunky … you might try to readjust the weight distribution.

DISTRIBUTION TRICKS

Sometimes it’s just impossible to keep the tools and weight evenly distributed … tool interference  usually being the main culprit. So what can you do? One of the best tricks is to use “dummy” holders to help distribute some weight. 

As the pic above illustrates … loading some heavier ID holders opposite the needed ID holders can help balance the weight and allow you to place tools where required to avoid tool interference during cutting.  Being creative can surely help.

Using a little common sense and taking the time to watch closely the movement and indexing of your turret to insure it’s smooth can mean longer life and accurate cutting for your CNC lathe.

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Powering ON / OFF Your CNC — The RIGHT WAY !!

Believe it or not … there is a RIGHT and WRONG way to turn the power on and off to your CNC equipment at the start and end of the day. And the difference can mean increased life for a lot of the electrical components at the heart of your equipment.

During my 20+ years as a field service engineer for Mori Seiki and Yamazen USA … the first thing I taught clients when they received their new CNC machine was the correct way to power up and power off. I knew from my experience that even this little lesson would bring big dividends over the long haul.

The main idea is to dissipate power or bring power on line in an orderly and limited manner. Big power boosts or cuts can damage delicate electrical components over the long haul and can even mean damage in the short run that will eventually lead to big failure.

Let’s start with the power OFF routine …

We’ll start with the power OFF because power on is the exact opposite. So we want to get this done right first off.

The WORST thing to do is to simply cut the power using the breaker on the machine. This creates a huge power vacuum all at once … not a good thing for delicate CNC electrical components. That breaker or switch  usually look something like this …

At POWER OFF … my recommended process is :

  1. Hit the big RED button … E-STOP is #1. This will kill the power to the motors and lock the axis movement preventing any axis jumps due to a bigger power cut. The E-STOP circuit is designed specifically for this type of power cut.
  2. #2 — CONTROL POWER OFF. Next up press the power off button for the CNC control. This will now kill the power to the CNC control components and control panel in an orderly manner. Again … that’s what the control off circuit is designed for.
  3. LAST — turn off the circuit breaker on the machine. Not the panel on the power box at the wall of the shop … the one at the machine. This will be the final power kill but at this point on limited items are still powered up and running.
(1) E-Stop
(2) Power Off
(3) Main Breaker

This is an orderly process that will turn the power off and dissipate power from the components in an orderly and minimum manner.

 POWER ON … the exact opposite :

  1. MAIN BREAKER ON
  2. CONTROL POWER ON
  3. UNLOCK the E-STOP (which was depressed at power off) … once that is unlocked the power will automatically return … although on some circuits you may need to  press the CONTROL POWER ON again once the E-STOP is released.

Should I Even Bother To Power Off My Machine ?

I know a lot users don’t even bother to turn the machine off … they just keep it powered on continuously.  I also know a lot of thinking here is that the power surge to the components is worse. Yes … that’s true if you just kill the BREAKER as your power off routine … but if you use the process I outlined here you will not adversely effect your electronics with power off … and you’ll save a TON on your electricity bill !!

Hope you found this article useful …
Happy LONG and PROSPEROUS Chipmaking !!

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

G Code Circle Milling – Like a PROFESSIONAL !!

Milling a counterbore or doing other circle cutting using an end mill or similar tool can be a powerful and creative machining process. Most times replacing the need for a reamer, boring bar or other sizing tool. This type of cutting, when combined with cutter compensation gives the operator much more flexibility in adjusting the size of the finished hole.

However, the main drawback is usually created using simple programs and is usually found at the entry and exit points where a small tool mark can be created due to the tool pressure caused at the entry of the cut. With a little creative programming technique and some simple calculations, a much more efficient and “professional” program can be created.

In this post, we’re going to take you step by step through a program creation to mill a circle using the “loop in – loop out” method which takes the cutter from the center into the side of the hole using an arc move – then cuts completely around the hole – then loops back to the center using another arc move. This type of cutting gives a real nice finish in the hole, helps maintain size a little better and leaves no tool mark at entry or exit points.

In our example, finish milling an inside round pocket using G02 or G03, a cutter mark will remain from tool pressure at the entrance and exit point of the arc. In order to create a smooth entrance and exit, some “tricky” machining technique must be employed because most machines do not have a “canned cycle” for the type of cutting explained here. Although this employs nothing more than simple G02 or G03 commands, the manner in which the codes are used and the type of process that results, makes efficient use of the simple codes and makes a more attractive and accurate workpiece.

The objective with the example below is to create a smooth transition into and out of the cut. In the example below, we are attempting to machine a 2 in. radius circle with a 1 in. radius cutter.

STEP #1 : We calculate the arc needed to move the cutter from the center of the pocket to the finish wall edge. In the example below, we use the following formula :

2.00 (pocket radius) – 1.00 (cutter radius) = 1.00

This is the distance needed to move from the pocket center to the wall edge, allowing for the cutter radius.

STEP #2 : Next divide the total distance in half to obtain the radius needed to swing an arc from the center to the outer edge as calculated above.

1.00 / 2 = .500

If you like this concept … we invite you to take a look at our Kipware® Conversational CNC Programming Software …it auto-creates G code from fill-in-the-blank forms … NO CAD experience required !!! CLICK HERE for MORE

Cutter  Compensation  Note : 

Some controls will allow for the activation of CUTTER COMPENSATION on the example program block #1. In that case, you can calculate the same as above but do not compensate for the cutter radius, instead call the cutter compensation G Code and compensation offset number on the program block. In our example, the program block would be :

G02 G91 G42 X2.00 Y0 R.500 D12 

In this block, we are using G42 (cutter compensation right) and storing the radius of the cutter in offset #12. Using cutter comp as above will allow for the easy adjustment of the pocket size by adjusting the value in offset #12. Don’t forget to cancel the cutter comp with G40 after the tools cutting is complete.

 Creating a “CYCLE” : 

Using a simple combination of sub-programming, you can take the example above a step further and create a simple Z axis step-down cycle resulting in the roughing of the above example with little effort.

In the program example below, we are taking the circle cutting routine created above and storing it in a sub program. The main program will step the Z axis down – call the sub-program to machine the hole at that depth, then return to the main program which will in turn move the Z axis to another depth and start the process again. This “cycle” repeats until the total depth is achieved.

Main Program : 

{ start and position the tool to the hole center as normal }

G01 G90 Z-.100 F15.0 ; — move to the depth of the first cut

M98 P1111 —————- call Sub Program O1111 which does the cutting as above

G01 G90 Z-.200 F15.0 ; — move to the next depth of cut

M98 P1111 —————- call Sub Program O1111 again at the new depth

G01 G90 Z-.300 F15.0 ; — move to the next depth of cut

M98 P1111 —————- call Sub Program O1111 again

G01 G90 Z-.400 F15.0 ; — move to the next depth of cut

…. etc. till the desired depth is realized

Sub Program : 

O1111;

G02 G91 X1.00 Y0 R.500 F10.0 ; — circle to the hole edge

G02 I-1.00 ; ——————— cut the complete circle

G02 X-1.00 Y0 R.500 ; ———— circle back to the center

M99 ; —————————- return to the main program

This is just one example of the combination use of the sub-programming feature and “simple” programming codes to create a user cycle. You can always use your initiative and create some other ideas. Maybe think about these  :

How can you put the Z axis move in the sub-program as well ?

Call the sub program and repeat a set number of times ?

… any others ?

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

Ideas for Dealing with the Skill Shortage in Your Shop

With the pace of manufacturing picking up, the effects of a lacking skilled workforce are also appearing in a lot of today’s shops. Whether it be the lack of personnel with machining experiences, CNC programming experience or even CNC operator experience … these effects can be devastating to your shops ability to compete and win profitable work. So what can be done?

President Trump seems to have us heading in the right direction with his initiative to institute more apprenticeship  programs in the manufacturing sector … but the time frame for those changes to reflect on your shop floor can be months or even years. What about now? Are there things we can implement to assist those efforts? … or even help them along?

Kipware® can help !!

Start with CNC Programming Training

To start with … our KipwareEDU® – CNC Programming Training and Reference Software is a great proven-in-the-trenches tool to assist in learning and understanding CNC programming. The manufacturing professionals at Kentech Inc. have been providing in-house CNC programming training since 1986. Having conducted hundreds of training classes in every size shop around the country … we developed a proven format for clear and concise … no fluff … programming training. We then took that proven formula and content and created a learn-at-your-own-pace training software solution in KipwareEDU®. We are firm believers in creating a strong foundation to move forward … and that includes teaching in depth the actual programming formats and codes you will actually need and use in today’s CNC programming. Whether it be mill programming … lathe programming … multi-axis programming or even Fanuc Macro Programming … KipwareEDU® has a starter package for you with many options to build on your strong foundation and move forward.

Here are some ideas on how to implement KipwareEDU® in your shop :

  1. Load KipwareEDU® on a laptop and allow your selected personnel the opportunity to personally use the laptop for a period of time to explore and learn CNC programming.
  2. Load KipwareEDU® on a laptop or PC on the shop floor and allow personnel the opportunity to access that PC and use KipwareEDU® as a reference tool to enhance and / or learn CNC programming.
  3. Give away KipwareEDU® as an incentive or gift and … give the gift of knowledge. It will come back to pay big dividends for your shops future.

Enhance Your Shop Floor Programming

If you are a visitor to our BLOG or website … you will know that we are also firm believers in the SHOP FLOOR PROGRAMMING MODEL vs THE CAD/CAM MODEL. Our favorite slogans are :

It’s NOT Always Rocket Science
STOP the CAD/CAM OVERKILL !!

We are also firm believers that relying on CAD/CAM only programming CAN MAKE YOUR SHOP DUMBER … read more here. 

As with our KipwareEDU® … we packed our Kipware® Conversational CNC Programming Software with our REAL WORLD experiences and created the PREMIER PC based conversational CNC programming software. Our concept and user interface provide an easy-to-use yet powerful shop floor programming application that can assist chipmakers become fast and efficient CNC programmers. Allowing chipmakers to create the simpler, everyday CNC programs will provide your shop with increased efficiency … will break the programming bottleneck … will increase profitability … along with providing your chipmakers with increased self worth and motivation.

We encourage you to explore Kipware® Conversational HERE … and research our many in-depth articles detailing the how’s and why’s of shop floor programming and what it can mean for your shop.


Are you ready for the increase in manufacturing opportunities coming down the track? Are you ready to assist your workforce become the workforce you require to meet those challenges? Kipware® software are powerful and proven-in-the-trenches tools that can help.

Kenney Skonieczny – President
Kentech Inc.

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.

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.