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Containing tools to a specific workcenter

Containing tools to a specific workcenter

Containing tools to a specific workcenter

In, well, all of my cells we run into an issue were the specific tool "wonders" away.
The specific one I am focusing on today is Welpers, or mig weld pliers. We have tried chains and they get broken ect and the welpers wonder to another workcenter ect ect. So other than trying a heavier chain, what else have any of you done to make sure the tools stay at the workcenter they are intended for. We have thought of interlocking them to the tip change windows of the weld cell, so the tip change window would have to be on to remove them (extreme but may work well?). I was wondering if anyone has come a crossed an interlock similar to a lathe or drill use for chuck keys (yes that's to prevent them from becoming projectiles, but similar idea).

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

We've tried color coding the tools (using plasti-dip pvc and similar)...but they still wander. Without a regular time period in which all hands set about cleanup and return of tools to their pegboards/boxes/whatever, and a system of rewards/punishments for missing tools, the tools will rapidly diffuse through the shop and possibly into home toolboxes.

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

Yea thats the same problem we have. Its not even a set period for inspecting the shadow boards, it could be a day an hour or a year but man that thing disappears and no one knows who / what took it. The maint manger suggested to figure out a way to interlock it so the machine physically is unable to run without it in (attached to the tip change circuit, so it would error out the same). This way they have to stay there. Not sure how to make that happen - tryign to find a interlock that might work.

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

Stop wasting time and money on inexpensive tools such as you are describing. Look at your larger losses such as non-value added work. Every one of your welders is doing about 4 hours or more of non-value added activities every day. Waiting for the fork lift, waiting for tools at the crib. Waiting for material or fixture. Solve those problems. Small tools is the least of your problems.


RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

It is an issue of corporate culture. Toughest kind of problem.

Thomas J. Walz
Carbide Processors, Inc.

Good engineering starts with a Grainger Catalog.

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

Bill- Always working on those problems. This was something an operator was asking about a solution since they "always" had to go search for a set. I am no where near 4 hours everyday thank goodness, our downtime is reflected in pieces produced with a 60s cycle time. I have other issues I am working on with clear solutions, this was something I could do to help improve the cell quickly.
Tom- Don't even know if its a corporate thing or just a general culture thing. Every shop I have worked for has had the same issue to some extent.
Was hoping for a couple ideas anyone has done that seems to have helped?

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

Have an 'inventory' day.
Check the tool inventory in each workcell.
Where a tool turns up missing,
offer to SELL a replacement to the cell operator at cost.

... but first, be sure the tools are not walking off in supervisors' hands.
If you can catch one, and recover the cost in a way that the rumor mill will detect and disseminate, it may not be necessary to hassle anyone else.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

Basically this is Trueblood’s answer with some additional thoughts, maybe even some worth considering.

Have them bring their own tools. At least a basic set.

If it is just bad habits then train. Train long and hard. Signs on shadow boards. Signs in lunch rooms. Make it a part of the corporate culture like the cop show that ended every meeting with "Be careful out there."

Friday afternoon we all clean up. We quit work at 3:00 and clean, then go home a half hour early at 3:30. I close up and check everything; cleanliness, tools, equipment condition, supplies of all kinds, work in progress, rework (if any). Monday morning I walk the shop and politely, casually, calmly discuss what I saw. E.G. Do we need to have Mark come in rebuild #6. Do we need new tweezers, tape gun, etc.? Do we have enough toilet paper? Do you need a new chair? Isn’t that heater pretty noisy? (A lot of this is pretty small until someone has to make a rush trip for toilet paper. An hour of time lost and it makes, me feel like I am in a Bozo outfit.

We run a “Costco” list. If you are going to need it then write it down.

In the worst case you my have someone actively opposing this. He is probably an unofficial small group leader who is ridiculing the program on breaks, etc. Just keep calmly on message. Eventually he quits or gives you enough reason to fire him. The guy is probably good at something and has the reputation for being irreplaceable. Cross train around him.

Get rid of what you don’t need. Makes it easier to keep track of what you do need.

Is anybody stealing? Do tools end up in the trash? Anybody abuse tools?

Anybody hide tools so they can’t be borrowed.

I spent a few years doing turnarounds for a major corp. My approach was to clearly define what was admirable on everything. We all show up on time. On time means at our work station at the starting time. We all keep our machines clean. We all fill out our maintenance reports. We all make perfect parts. And so on.

It takes a few months of a lot of work but it works.

You have a certain % of employees who really want to do things right. They will listen and really appreciate not having to try and track down their tools. Identify them and then work on the others.

I look at peer pressure as an important part of corporate culture.


Thomas J. Walz
Carbide Processors, Inc.

Good engineering starts with a Grainger Catalog.

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

I have to disagree with Bill that this is a waste of time. Having someone chase a tool for half an hour every time they need it to fix something that would've otherwise taken 30s to fix is a non-value added activity. I live this every time I need a certain size of allen key...

As for a solution, the best way I found to fix the issue is to have the personnel carry their own tools. Buy it for them the first time if you need to, but charge them for replacement for loss or excessive wear.For some culture BS, I can ask some departments to work like that, but not others. It works in the department where this system was enforced.

Obviously, it isn't economic to apply this method to rarely used and/or expensive tools. I haven't figured out that one yet. We are trying to put a system in place where a worker checks a list of tools before starting a job and then check the list again once he's done. We are having trouble with foremen not enforcing the check list and what to do when tools "disappear" between jobs.

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

expensive and rarely used tools we keep with the maint. leader, who is then responsible for it and those don' have a tendency to disappear, and in the stock room as checkout and check in, since our stock room is manned 3 shifts it works.
Thanks for the good ideas.

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

Bill has a point, too. Plus it's easy to say it's your operators fault, but where are all of your pens; what do mean you don't know? Allen keys and little stuff like that; buy one for each station, buy a few extras and don't waste anybody's time on it.

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

John, that's exactly what we were doing before, buying tools for every station and keeping some spares in inventory. Every few weeks (or days sometimes...) we'd have to resupply tools. The cost of the tools is minor but the waste of time of always chasing after the tools is the real cost here.

We had a worker (who was let go for unrelated reasons) who had over 50 Allen keys in is locker when it was emptied. The guy just forgot the tools in his pocket and emptied them in the locker at the end of his shift. No bad intentions (I believe) but he was not giving a sh*t because no one was responsible for the missing tools.

PS:I know precisely where my pens are :)

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

I worked at a predominately welder-oriented business for 4yrs, and remember the hassles. The solutions that seems to work for us:
buy tool set for each station
create shadow boards for big tools
use custom cut foam in tool boxes for small items
make workers sign an inventory list showing the total cost, let them know they cover the replacement cost
consumables are in a localized, controlled cage/room

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RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

Thanks guys.

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

You could take it to the extreme that they do in aircraft maintenance hangers where all tools get signed out and signed back in and no one gets to leave without all tools being accounted for.

May be a little excessive though.

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What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Containing tools to a specific workcenter

I am surprised reading that this affliction of missing tools has travelled so far from India. This is a serious issue, new tool box is given with identification and then they are missing and at times cheap replacements or damaged ones find their place. I am now in Nigeria and the same problem exists. The workman never arrives with his tool box, but carries a few of them in his hand, which are never adequate for the job..

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