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CNC Performance Evaluation

Be sure you're CNCs are utilized at optimum levels!

The objectives:

To provide an objective evaluation of your company's current CNC environment, to locate trouble spots, and to suggest improvements prioritized by cost and ease of implementation. You'll likely pay for this consultation with the first improvement you make!

All manufacturing people would like to think their CNC machines are running at optimum levels. Truly, CNC machines tend to be so productive that even poorly utilized machines may be performing in a satisfactory manner. The sad reality is that few CNC users take full advantage of what current model CNC machine tools are capable of.

Complicating the issue of achieving optimum CNC performance is the fact that almost every CNC feature can be used in several ways -- if your people have been left on their own to develop usage methods, it’s quite likely that they have not tapped into all your sophisticated CNC machines can do. While machine tool suppliers are usually willing to help, note that most teach generic methods that are easy to relate to their users. Few address the specific needs of all.

Judging your own usage methods has never been easy. As human beings, we tend to feel that our methods are good enough as long as we’re meeting our production schedules. And in this regard, bottlenecks caused by long setup and cycle times, poor quality, crashed machines, and confusion among workers are obvious symptoms of under-utilized CNC machine tools. Given the limited focus of your own people (who deal only with the machines you use and products you produce), it is quite possible that every CNC machine in your company could be better utilized.

Future growth and global competition dictate that you be on the constant lookout for better methods. Stagnant methods soon become obsolete -- what worked well yesterday will be wasteful tomorrow. The CNC Performance Evaluation will expose your company’s CNC-related weaknesses and give you the alternatives you need to eliminate them.

Who does the evaluation?

Mike Lynch, president of CNC Concepts, Inc., has over 20 years experience working with CNC machine tools. He has authored five CNC textbooks, published by McGraw Hill and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. His column, CNC Tech Talk, appears monthly in Modern Machine Shop Magazine. Mr. Lynch conducts advanced CNC seminars such as “CNC Advanced Techniques”, “Managing CNC Operations”, “Parametric Programming”, and “Touch Probe Programming” for organizations like the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, MidTec, Anthis Career Center, and Tooling and Manufacturing Association. His unique exposure to countless CNC professionals gives Mr. Lynch an excellent insight into the various alternatives available to CNC users.

The Performance Evaluation

by Mike Lynch

The CNC Performance Evaluation is completed in four steps. Three of the steps are done in your own facility, working with your CNC people. While this brochure attempts to relate the steps as well as possible, you’ll surely have questions. Please complete and submit the information form so we can discuss your specific needs in greater detail.

Step one: Information gathering

First and foremost, I need to know what you intend to accomplish with the performance evaluation. Common goals include reducing setup and/or cycle time, eliminating bottlenecks, improving training methods, and streamlining your programming & program transfer methods. But you surely have special problems you want addressed. I also need to get a general feel for your company, including size, products produced, CNC departments or cells, and programming methods. This getting-to-know-you process can be easily accomplished prior to visiting your facility, through phone conversations and by using the information form. This general understanding of your corporate goals should be reinforced in a meeting with your corporate staff upon my arrival.

Next, I need to gain a more specific understanding of your company’s current products and manufacturing methods. This is accomplished through interviews with your key people. I begin with a person that has a good overall understanding of your entire operation to gain a broad understanding of your current methods. Next, I interview your key people (usually one from each CNC department or cell) to better understand the specifics of what goes on in each area. Other information gathering techniques include plant tours, demonstration of usage methods, and in general, anything that helps me understand your current ways of doing things.

While this step takes the longest (averaging two days, depending upon the size of the facility), it is very important for me to understand your corporate goals and current methods in order to come up with viable recommendations.

Step two: Evaluation

After collecting so much information, I’ll need a little time to digest it and formulate recommendations based upon your company’s corporate goals. While I can do this back in my office, I like to perform this step while still in your facility. Everyone is still readily available for further questions and previous discussions are still easily remembered. Additionally, testing may be necessary to confirm that certain recommendations will gain the desired result. Depending upon the complexity of your company and needs, this step usually takes from a few hours to a full day.

Step three: Discussion of preliminary findings

While still in your facility, I like to have a departure meeting with your corporate managers to discuss preliminary findings. The most important recommendations will be well formulated at this point, and I like to present them face-to-face. This meeting usually takes 1-3 hours, depending upon how many questions come up during the meeting.

Step four: Written performance evaluation

Once back the office, I’ll prepare a complete report of the findings, starting with a summary of my perceptions about your company’s current methods and a review of the interviews. Next, I’ll try to clarify the reasons why your current methods may not be in line with your corporate goals. This helps clarify what brought you to your current state. Finally, I’ll make specific recommendations for improvement. The time required for this step is usually under eight hours and will be billed at my daily rate. Note that the performance evaluation also includes follow-up questions for the purpose of helping you implement the recommendations I make (free of charge).

Pricing for the performance evaluation

Pricing is based upon my daily rate ($2,000.00 per day). Travel expenses (airline tickets or car at 30 cents per mile, hotel, and meals) will also be billed.