A Presetter as a cultural change agent

When we first investigated investing in a presetter, the key driver was to free up machine capacity and do as much “offline” setup as possible – that was the ROI calculator of every sales team that walked into our company to pitch the latest and greatest of these machines.  We assessed manual vs. CNC presetter, numerous brands and distributors, and their service levels in our area.  We finally settled on a CNC version, a Zoller venturion 450, with the right accuracy and build, and which automates much more, removes additional data entry, and makes the process that much more repeatable.

About that ROI

We initially found that much more than productivity gains from offline tooling offsets and increased machine runtime, we gained on shop and tool crib discipline, overall Quality, and tool life.  With a presetter, we were able to centralize our holders and tooling into the tool crib.  We discovered many of our holders were not as good as we thought, and that many of the newer or best holders were hidden away by machinists who wanted to hold on to them for their jobs, even if that meant keeping them mostly out of circulation.

We also found that visual inspection of tooling by multiple people led to inconsistent categorization of tools coming back from the shop floor.  And that many of our machinists assumed they had to make do with the tooling they were given or took from the crib, even if that was at the expense of quality, poor finishes and higher scrap rates, not to mention more frequent tool changes.

So we upgraded holders and tooling, were able to institute better tooling management practices, from sourcing to inventory management and overall care.  Our presetter will not release a holder from its claws if the holder’s runout or the tool is bad – it requires a code.  Jobs are clearly kitted when they make it to the shop floor, with labels printed straight from the pre-setter.  Tooling does cost more upfront but lasts longer and makes better parts.

Shop Culture

This also impacted the shop culture – not only is it clear that the business cares about quality, but it cares about giving employees the right tools (literally and figuratively) to do their job. In the past we counted on individual talent, experience and, at times, miracles to meet quality and production metrics.  Now we mostly rely on process as expectations and responsibilities are fair and unambiguous.

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