How to maximize your CNC machining productivity

July 12, 2017

There are 8,760 hours in each year. How many of those does your CNC machine spend working?

Of course, you can never get it perfect. But most machinists, and shops, miss out on substantial productivity by making mistakes they don’t realize.

You can easily take an informal survey that gives you a good idea of your true productivity level. Simply walk through your shop in the morning, at a few random times during the day, and before you go home each night.

Take note of the percentage of machines operating. Do this for two weeks. Calculate the average percentage in operation. Then, estimate the number of hours you’ve been operating.

If you’re like many machine shops, your CNC machinery actually only operates 2,000 or less hours per year. That obviously leaves room for big gains.

Do you make any of these productivity mistakes?

Run Your Older Machines More than Your Newer Ones

You can have all the most modern equipment available, but if it isn’t running, it does you no good. No surprise there. But, you may not realize the extent of this issue until you actually calculate your productivity.

To increase yours, run your old machines nearly all the time. Take some of the wear-and-tear off your newer machines by running them less. Optimize your total productivity for a net gain versus what you did before.

Eliminate Your Wait Time for Operators

Your CNC machines should rarely have to wait for an operator to program them and set their job up. You could have one CNC machine operator take care of multiple machines.

You may need to train your employees to improve their awareness of this issue. Night and weekend jobs should be set up to continue running…even during shift changes. Your managers also need to be aware of when staff are sick or going on vacation to eliminate downtime in those situations.

Avoid Unnecessary Breakdowns with Preventative Maintenance

Every CNC machine breaks down. It’s going to happen. However, most maintenance is predictable. So, that means you need to schedule regular preventative maintenance to avoid the downtime it causes.

When a part breaks and you have to order one, make sure you contact your OEM immediately and persistently stay on them. Be prepared to pay extra to have the part rush delivered because the time you save from that may save you serious cash.

If you haven’t analyzed your productivity, now’s a better time than ever to do so. It’ll lead to significant cost savings and additional revenue generation.

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