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Tool management systems & pre-setters offer cost savings
Tool management systems & pre-setters offer cost savings

Tool management systems & pre-setters offer cost savings

Added to MTDCNC by ZOLLER UK on 05 January 2015

Combining a high quality tool pre-setter solution with a tool management system (TMS) is an area where significant manufacturing efficiencies can be achieved, yet it is something that often gets overlooked.

Looking at the potential benefits in a little more detail, Andrew Fulton, Managing Director of Zoller UK portrays a typical day at a 10 machine company to highlight the benefits.

The common factor across all tasks from CAD model to finished component is the associated cutting tools, as a quick review of the typical art-to-part process reveals. For many machine shops, the company’s CAM engineer assess the data and produces the necessary NC program. The most important part of this process is identifying what parametric tooling will be required to make the part.
This can be made easier by using a presetter and TMS. A TMS is in essence a tool database where relevant parametric information can be pulled from tool manufacturers’ catalogues, allowing a CAM engineer to create tool assemblies with ease. All tools and tool components are recorded at a single point, saved and managed by the software. A TMS can also include actual physical tools that are scanned in 3D through the presetting/measuring machine. In short, the time required at this stage of the process is reduced dramatically.

From this, the next step benefits from implementing a TMS as it ensures that the locations of tools are known at all times and therefore rationalises tooling stock. So, there is no need to purchase a tool if it already exists. However, as any busy machine shop will know, finding it can be another matter entirely. It could be that the tool is at regrind, or is sat redundant in a magazine elsewhere in the machine shop. If so, the TMS will know, not just representing another huge time saving, but avoiding the possibility of purchasing a tool that is already owned.

When the required tools have been located, the next step is to determine if they are fit for use. A TMS removes human judgement from the equation by keeping track of the number of times each tool has been deployed. This allows engineers to know when a tool requires changing.

Once the CAM engineer has created the necessary toolpaths, a TMS solution such as that offered by Zoller can provide a direct link between the collision/CAM software and the Zoller system. A complete set of cutting tools for a job are quickly and easily transferred from the Zoller TMS database to the collision software. Of course, while the software is doing its job, the offline tool presetter can be preparing the necessary tools and establishing the necessary offsets ready for machining.

A TMS and its ability to maintain control of tooling stock is a major contributor to lean manufacturing practices. This allows it to maintain profit margins. In fact, the savings are such that those investing in a TMS typically achieve payback within just 12 months. This is especially the case where the only existing system relies on the use of spreadsheets, which unfortunately remains a common industry practice.


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