Technical Partnerships for Continuous Improvement

Continuous process improvement is a commitment which may require external input

In order to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive and complex global market, manufacturers must commit to continuously improving their products and processes.  However, companies must also understand that continuous improvement involves both internal optimization of their existing processes and an eye toward new technologies which can further enhance these processes.  This can be extremely difficult to achieve since it requires a fresh and unbiased review of internal processes and keeping up with the world of rapidly changing technology.  Even if the continuous improvement team can review internal operations in an unbiased manner, they may miss important application details which are engrained in previous procedures or simply misunderstood.  Similarly, applicable new technologies are often difficult to conceptualize and integrate, because “we don’t know what we don’t know”.

Once new technology becomes available, companies frequently have difficulty rationalizing the benefits of the investment or choose to invest in less expensive technology which may not provide the same value.  Even when the ideal technology is implemented, failure to completely understand proper integration and use can limit the return. Technology and machining will only go so far to ensure efficiency and product quality. A fully optimized manufacturing process strategy must include consultative support and education from vendor partners.

The value of consultative support

In all cases, consultative technical partners can provide critical support and guidance to the continuous improvement team.  Much like paid consultants, and often used by consultants for the same purpose, advisory technology providers have vast experience within their area of expertise.  An experienced partner will take the time to educate and guide manufacturers to proven improvements and solutions–even if they fall outside of their product lines.  A great consultative technical provider understands that a strong partnership, based on the value of their technical advice, will often lead the customer to logical decisions to purchase their products whenever possible, ultimately putting finding the right solution before making a sale.

Technical education is key

Oftentimes, inefficiency is a product of misunderstood application parameters or complacency regarding alternative solutions and improved technology.  Taking the time to educate customers on critical cutting parameters such as tool rim speed, chip load, proper part holding, proper tool holding, dust evacuation, and heat management can dramatically affect processing efficiency. Education is important for every person involved with the manufacturing process, from management to the team on the shop floor, and can be delivered in a classroom setting or as a practical application on the shop floor.

Developing, rationalizing and introducing customers to new processing technologies fills in the “what we didn’t know” gap.  The experience gained by working with many industry manufacturing partners provides insight as to which technologies truly work, and an understanding of how to optimize each.  Each step helps reduce the customer’s perceived investment risk and ensures favorable ROI from the technology.

The Leitz approach

Leitz is not only an industry leading manufacturer of advanced cutting technology but also a leading consultative technical provider. Leitz guidance is based on insight gathered from our multi-industry, worldwide perspective, and experience.  Our expert review, fueled by our belief that we can improve any cutting process, backed by our unconditional quality and performance guarantee, ensures our partner customers achieve the continuous improvement essential to their future.

Are you the top producer in your industry segment?  Are your manufacturing processes optimized?  Do you have the capacity to regularly conduct an unbiased review and improve these processes? Leitz does.  How can we help you continuously optimize manufacturing efficiency and profitability?

Form a partnership for continuous improvement with Leitz.

Tooling and Integrating Your First CNC

Congratulations, you’ve just bought your first CNC!  The price tag was a bit overwhelming, but breaking the price down into monthly and weekly costs makes the expense easier to rationalize.  The manufacturer has assured you that this machine will replace the majority of your current manual equipment and perform the same tasks much more efficiently.  Builds which would take weeks can now be accomplished in hours with greater accuracy and quality.

You’ve configured the machine footprint on your shop-floor, contracted an electrician to install the proper disconnect, and a dust collection company to install an external collector and piping.  The machine will arrive tomorrow, and the riggers will be here in the morning to off-load and set the machine.  A service tech from the manufacturer will arrive the following day to complete installation and begin training your operators.

Ready, set, WAIT… Tooling! You’ve completely forgotten about the tooling!  Unfortunately, this scenario is all too frequent.  Manufacturers focus on the machine, not realizing the machine is simply a big tool holder.  They don’t consider the importance of proper tooling when the tooling actually controls the efficiency, productivity, and ROI of the machine!  Make the wrong choices regarding tooling, or run tools at the wrong parameters, and your new production battleship becomes a tugboat.  

Take for instance a Midwest cabinet manufacturer, who contacted us to urgently tool up their first CNC.  Thankfully basic collet chucks, solid carbide routing tools, and boring bits were stock items, but there are critical considerations when deciding which tools to utilize.

Tool holding is one of the most important considerations because this is the first point at which a weak link can be introduced to an otherwise rigid and precise machine.  Collet chucks may suffice for start-up purposes, or when running seldom used tools, but flexible collets allow for significant tool deflection and run-out.  Thankfully the customer was aware of and understood the value of the Leitz ThermoGrip heat-shrink chucks.  This collet-free chucking system extends the machine spindle rigidity and precision through the cutting tool.  By maintaining the perfect tool centerline, cutting pressure and workload are equally divided, providing excellent cut quality while yielding upwards of 25% longer tool life and allowing significantly higher processing speeds.  Thanks to the ThermoGrip chucking system, the customer believed in and is now realizing more than $16,000 in annualized operational savings (based on current single-shift production levels).

leitz, thermogrip, tooling, woodworking toolsThe customer inquired about the value of the Leitz solid carbide router bits offered, stating they could by the “same style” compression bit at a slightly lower cost from another source.  As always, we suggested the customer test both tools and track differences in longevity.  Solid carbide routers may look alike but can be made from dramatically different grades of carbide.  Carbide is essentially powdered tungsten (cutting element), held together with a cobalt binder and some trace performance elements.  The differences cannot be seen visually, but a hard carbide composition with 3% cobalt concentration will generally far outlast a softer carbide with 10% cobalt concentration.  Add to this a protective coating, and the slightly more expensive tool may outlast the lesser tool by a factor of 2 or 3 times.  The customer completed their testing and chose to use the Leitz tool for this reason.

This company also wanted to convert their old shaper profiling tools for use on the new CNC.

While It may be possible to convert certain shaper tools for use on a CNC, that may not the best choice. Your new CNC will process material at a much faster rate, and more than twice the RPMs, generally using lighter, more compact tools.  Beyond size and weight issues, the CNC will hold much tighter tolerances, but only if you equip it with precision tooling.

The customers’ existing three-wing, carbide-tipped tools may have “worked” on their shaper, but workpieces required significant manual repair and sanding.  Wanting to eliminate this expensive off-line processing, the customer was interested in higher quality profiling tools.  They found this quality in Leitz ProfilCut Q profile insert system, a light-weight and highly precise profiled insert system which provides almost perfect knife-to-knife precision.  Not only did these tools fit within the machine spindle weight and collision diameter specifications, but they also cut extremely quiet and provided a cut quality which did not require post-machine sanding.  The customer also appreciated the fact that they could manufacture various profiles through simple knife changes, and that these coated knives provided exceptional service life.

Even more critical than tool design is ensuring the operator understands how to optimize performance through proper operational parameters.  Even the best tools can be quickly destroyed by part movement, overheating, or excessive cutting pressure.  The Leitz consultant took the time to educate the operators about essential variables such as rim speed, chip-load, mass removal and part fixturing.  Above all, operators must ensure workpieces are securely held in place, vibration is eliminated, cutting pressure is regulated, and friction heat is removed from the cutting process via the wood chips.   Understanding how to apply these relatively simple machining parameters is the key to maximizing CNC process efficiency and profitability.

How can we help your production team maximize their process efficiency?

Leitz is the trusted tooling partner for today’s manufacturing leaders. For over 140 years, Leitz has set the standard for tooling development, innovation, application expertise, and service. We empower our customers with the right solutions to optimize their entire manufacturing process to meet their business goals.

Form a partnership for continuous improvement with Leitz. Fill out the form below or contact us at 800.253.6070 to talk about solutions.

Leitz Tooling Systems Canada Ready to Grow

Leitz CEO Jürgen Köppel and Lesley Morris, Leitz Canada’s new managing director, at the company’s new Canadian headquarters in Vaughan, Ont. (Photo: Woodworking)

Leitz Canada has moved its Canadian headquarters to Vaughan, Ont. just north of Toronto, expanding the sales and service center from 35,000 to about 80,000 square feet and adding new, state-of-the-art machine technology.

Read the full story >

 

Optimize CNC Machinery and Ensure a Superior Finished Product with High-Quality Tooling

Speed, higher production rates, and accuracy are just a few of the benefits of CNC machining. Yet, despite the implementation of a new CNC machine, a specialized wood product manufacturer was experiencing inferior finish quality on their solid wood boards, including fuzzing in the cut and poor staining consistency.

The unsatisfactory cut quality forced the manufacturer to invest in additional labor, which added costs, produced extra scrap and slowed down the production process. The cut quality was unacceptable and overall, the manufacturer was extremely disappointed in the output.

The manufacturer and the Leitz representative discussed the issues the competitor’s tooling solution created. After addressing the manufacturer’s concerns and reviewing a sample workpiece from the customer, their Leitz representative identified undulations in the cut surface from inaccurate tooling and determined the customer needed a more concentric tool to maximize efficiency. The Leitz ProfilCut Q program was recommended to the customer.

ProfilCut Q is a technologically advanced insert system with precision shank rigidity and concentricity. The uniform clamping system utilizes profile knives and standard turnblade inserts to get the job done economically with the best finish quality. The unique clamping system places zero stress on the tool body, allowing for the use of aluminum alloy and round-bodied designs to reduce weight, noise, and vibration while optimizing balance, dust flow and finish quality. Clamping elements are protected from dust and resin build-up for quick and easy knife changes— without setting gauges or other measuring equipment. Repeatability is guaranteed.

After implementing the Leitz ProfilCut Q system, the customer achieved a virtually perfect output from the first run on their CNC machine. The customer was astonished by the cut quality the Leitz tooling solution provided and is beyond pleased with the results. The customer has now realized that sanding pieces coming off the CNC is unnecessary, and has since eliminated this very costly process step.  This manufacturer is now able to move parts to the finishing line directly from the CNC.

The finished product using the Leitz ProfilCut Q tooling system.

Leitz understands that two of the biggest areas for manufacturing companies to hemorrhage cash are inefficiency in labor and excess scrap. By taking an innovative and service-oriented approach to tooling solutions, Leitz helps organizations achieve operational efficiency without compromising the quality of the finished product.

Learn how the ProfilCut Q tooling system can optimize your manufacturing process. Fill out the form below or view the brochure here.

Leitz Recognized as One of Germany’s Exemplary Family-Owned Businesses

Company Founder Albert Leitz (1854 – 1916)

Entrepreneurism, grit, leadership, innovation… these are all traits of the family-owned businesses that are the backbone of economies around the world. For the over 140 years since Leitz was founded by Albert Leitz in Oberkochen, Germany, Leitz is proud to have remained a family-owned company. In 1876, taking advantage of his proximity to the state-owned steelworks of Swabia, Germany, Albert Leitz began producing drills, saw blades, and axes from the high-grade steel of the region. Today, Leitz manufactures one of the largest catalogs of woodworking and advanced material cutting tools and employs about 4,000 employees worldwide in it’s 14 production locations in Europe, Asia, and America. Leitz also holds 250 patents.

Leitz owns much of their success as a family-owned business to the leadership of Dr. Dieter Brucklacher. From 1974 to 2016, Dr. Brucklacher set the company’s strategic vision, promoting growth and internationalization through innovation, pioneering technology, and quality. He also felt it incredibly important that Leitz customers continue to receive face-to-face consultative service from their Leitz representatives. Even in this age of emerging technologies that forced many organizations to choose convenience over personalization, he worked to expand Leitz’ network of sales and service companies around the world to ensure the individual, one-on-one service and expertise Leitz customers’ have come to know and respect.

The Brucklacher family: Dr. Cornelia Brucklacher, Monika Brucklacher, and the late Dr. Dieter Brucklacher

After Dr. Brucklacher’s passing in 2016, his daughter Dr. Cornelia Brucklacker took the lead of the organization and relies on her father’s values to shape her vision. Dr. Cornelia Brucklacker is the is the great-great-granddaughter of Albert Leitz and the fifth generation of the family to manage Leitz. “Ensuring the satisfaction of our customers and their economic success, from small-scale producers to global industrial companies, has been, and remains, at the core of our business of over 140 years of tradition,” she said.

Leitz is honored to have their story featured in the book From a Good Family (Aus Bester Familie), by Dr. Florian Langenscheidt, which highlights over 100 exemplary German family-owned businesses. From a Good Family is published by the Zeit Publishing Group and is in its third edition. Dr. Langenscheidt notes the power of family-owned businesses in the introduction of the book by saying, “Family enterprises are flexible and innovative. They think in terms of generations, not quarterly earnings. They make quick decisions that are also sustainable. They do business with no small measure of social responsibility and do not look at their trusted business partners as mere cash cows. What is more, family-owned businesses find a way to connect the rational business world with the emotional world of the family.” 

Leitz has been a pioneer in the industry since it’s foundation. Developing the application of carbide as a cutting material, developing the first polycrystalline diamond cutting material for wood processing, and introducing the first tool with an electronic memory chip are among many of Leitz’ achievements. There is no doubt that this ability to innovate and evolve is directly related to the values that come with being a family-owned business.

Firmly rooted in Ostalb to this day: Leitz headquarters in the town of Oberkochen

“The culture and values of Leitz, a family-owned business, are the result of long-term vision and sustainable action. In this regard, we are conscious of our responsibilities to our employees, our clients, and wider society. We consider ourselves one part of a community with a common purpose, and act with the awareness that the company’s success ultimately depends on the performance of the people working within it,” comments Dr. Cornelia Brucklacker, Chair of the Advisory Board and Group Shareholder for Leitz.

To learn more about the history of Leitz Tooling, visit www.leitz.org/history.

Maximize the Benefits of Diamond Tooling with Continuous Education, Expert Service, and High-Quality Tooling

A premier office furniture manufacturer located in the Midwest increases the benefits of diamond tooling through education, service, and quality tooling.

Diamond tooling offers several benefits over traditional carbide tooling. However, if you are not getting longevity out of your diamond tooling, the cost benefits rapidly diminish.

This is the exact issue a market-leading office furniture manufacturer was experiencing. Unusual amounts of wear and damage to their diamond tooling and exceedingly long turn-around times from their tooling service provider were increasing production expenses and ruining efficiency.

Working with their Leitz representative, the manufacturer was able to identify and implement four areas of strategic improvement.

Tooling Quality

More PCD tip height on a tool’s cutting wing = more serviceable tool life. A taller PCD tip height will allow you to sharpen the tool more times before having to replace the tool. There are currently no industry standards for custom tool tip heights, so it’s important customers understand this significant tooling characteristic. Leitz designs their custom tools with maximum amount of usable tip height more than any other tooling provider and, therefore, provides the customer with more efficient, lowest applied cost tooling solutions.

Continuous Education

Diamond tooling is harder than carbide tooling. As such, it is also much more brittle. Most machine operators lack an understanding of the gravity of the cost difference between diamond and carbide tooling as well as how to properly handle diamond tooling to ensure the longevity of the tools. Leitz is providing ongoing education to teach the operator team how to handle and protect diamond tooling and increase tool life.

These photos show PDC damage due to improper tool handling. There is layered breaking within the PDC layer itself, similar to how shale rock would break. This can only be caused by side impact to the PCD.

Material Improvement

In addition to damage from mishandling, through extensive tool evaluation after running, including high-resolution photographs, the Leitz service team was able to identify and document frontal impact damage to the tool caused by impurities in the materials being cut. The manufacturer was able to return to their material provider and discuss reimbursement for damage and investigate alternative material options.

These photos show PCD damage due to impurities in the material. Damage is straight down through the entire layer of PDC and into the tool body.

Expert Service

Because of the multiple Leitz service centers located around the country, Leitz can provide a faster turn-around time for tool servicing. The manufacturer is now able to carry less tooling in-house with results in cost savings on their overall tooling inventory.

Although the furniture manufacturer was using a quality competitor, Leitz has provided a total tooling solution for the customer that will deliver more efficiency and maximize their investment. By understanding the difference in tooling service and handling, the manufacturer has watched their efficiencies grow and has realized positive downstream effects from the changes implemented during the manufacturing process.

Let’s talk about increasing the benefits of your PCD tooling through better service and education. Contact Leitz at (800) 253-6070 or fill out the form below.

The Top Three Qualities of Precision Tooling Service

Sharpening a tool 5-6 times is relatively easy, but the ability to sharpen the same tool 12-15 times can reduce your overall tooling costs by 50% or more.

Your cutting tools play a vital role in the overall quality and performance of your finished product. Precision servicing of your tools is critical to maximizing the investment you have made in your tooling solution. It’s important to partner with a tooling service provider with the expertise to ensure the longevity of your tooling and, in turn, the ongoing efficiency of your production process and quality of your product. These are the three most important qualities to look for when you select your tooling service partner.

leitz, woodworking tools, wood manufacturing

Consultative Approach

Your tooling service partner should assess your entire production environment and suggest tooling solutions which will optimize your productivity and profitability. This consultative method can be utilized throughout the service cycle as well.  Each time a tool is ready for service your representative should offer ideas to maximize current tool capabilities through usage and servicing options to make certain your tools operate at optimum performance levels for their entire lifecycle.

State-of-the-Art Equipment

Experienced service technicians use the finest grinding machinery, precision measuring and inspection equipment, dynamic balancing equipment, and the most current grinding know-how available to keep your cutting tools performing at optimal levels. Your service provider should make an ongoing investment in the quality of their sharpening and reconditioning equipment.

Experience of Service Technicians

Service technicians should receive continuous qualification updates and training with a special focus on technology and production Service and quality standards should be uniform, consistent, understood and applied by every technician in every company service center. In our rapidly changing industry, the best technicians have up-to-date knowledge on current trends and techniques they can apply to enhance your production success.

The best tooling value can only be accomplished through precision service which maximizes the total service cycles and the overall productivity of each tool. Precision tool service will also yield longer service life between sharpening or repair, resulting in fewer tool changes, less machine downtime and improved productivity.

About Leitz Service >

Leitz has a network of 180+ company-owned service centers around the world, and 8 regional service centers in North America alone. Each service center provides complete tool sharpening and repair services plus convenient pick-up and timely delivery of customer tooling. We continuously upgrade our service center equipment to ensure the most precise tool reconditioning and repair services possible. Our experienced tooling technicians are the best in the world and provide the best possible tooling value to our customers. Our experience allows us to properly service any “safe” tool regardless of original manufacturer.

Let’s talk about your tooling service program and how Leitz can impact your efficiency and productivity >>. 

Tooling Spotlight: Diamond Routers

In our tooling spotlight, we break down what you need to know about our most effective tooling solutions. This MVP is our line of Diamond Routers.

The Tool:

Leitz Diamond Routers perform at high processing speeds, equal to or more than comparable solid carbide tools–offering greatly improved service life.

Recent advancements in tool design and construction have allowed Leitz to expand the small diameter diamond routing and nesting tools to 2+2 and 3+3 wing design.

Available in diameters as small as 3/8″ and in various cutting lengths, Diamond Routers will greatly enhance most CNC nesting and sizing applications.woodworking tools, diamond tooling, routers, tooling, leitz

What makes it better:

  • A wide variety of specifications available
  • Technical and economic superiority in critical tests with leading machining center manufacturers
  • Significantly longer tool life
  • Fewer tool changes
  • Optimized machine throughput

When to use it:

With CNC and other precision machining. Optimize performance with the Leitz ThermoGrip™ heat shrink tool holding system.

Diamaster PRO Z1+1

 

·       Entry level for lower production requirements

·       Useful for all company sizes

Diamaster PRO Z2+2

 

·       Economic solution for increased performance requirements

·       Optimum price to performance ratio

Diamaster PRO3  Z3+3 – Nesting

 

·        High-performance tool for nesting applications

·       True 3-wing router bits provide continuous cut quality

Diamaster PLUS Z1+1

 

·       Recommended for composite materials

·       Ideal for various non-wood applications

Diamaster QUATTRO Z2+2

 

·       Standard tool for most industrial applications

·       Ideal for both pre- and finish cutting

Diamaster PLUS Z3+3

 

·       Standard for industrial users with high-performance requirements

·       High feed speeds with excellent finish quality

Diamaster PLUS3 Z3+3 ·       The choice for industrial pre- and finish cutting

·       True 3-wing design for continuous cut quality and maximum performance

The results:

All the benefits of Diamond Tooling, including longer tool life, fewer tool changes, and optimized machine throughput, combined with a wide variety of cutting lengths and size options results in increased performance, cost savings, and a tear-free and chip-free finish.

Add this MVP to your line-up:

Download our Diamond Routers brochure.

Take advantage of our current promotion on Diamond Routers and ThermoGrip™, now through the end of 2018.

Contact your local Leitz consultant at (800) 253-6070, or fill out the form below, and we’ll get in touch.

Tooling Spotlight: ThermoGrip® Tool-Holding System

In our tooling spotlight, we break down what you need to know about our most effective tooling solutions. This month’s MVP is ThermoGrip CNC Tool-Holding System.

The Tool:

The Leitz ThermoGrip® heat-shrink tool-holding system offers unrivaled precision. The one-piece chuck design eliminates excess tool run-out common to collet and hydro tool-holding systems. Heat shrink technology allows for higher machine output, while yielding optimized cut quality and significantly extended tool life.

Heat shrink chucks offer the simplest and most rigid link between the machine spindle and cutting tool. Heat shrink chucks are inexpensive, one-piece tool holders, without moving or mechanical parts to wear or maintain.leitz, thermogrip, tooling, woodworking toolsThe ThermoGrip® tool holding system uses an inductive heating concept to provide stronger, more concentric tool clamping. This leads to increased tool life, better surface finishes, and improved cost efficiency.

What makes it better:

  • Highest torque transfer; essentially a one-piece tool and HSK-F63
  • Safe, rigid balanced to 36,000 RPMs
  • Optimized tool performance, finish quality
  • Increased cutting speeds (by 30%)
  • Improved machine productivity
  • Compact, solid design with no wear parts; right or left rotation
  • Easy cleaning/maintenance; unlimited lifespan
  • Reduced tooling costs; fast tool changes

When to use it:

With CNC and other precision machining.

The results:

The annualized savings utilizing Leitz ThermoGrip can be astounding. You will reduce tooling costs by a minimum of 25% and increase machine and operator productivity by at least 20%. ThermoGrip users have noted annualized savings of at least $15,000 per shift, with expanded production capacity. The ThermoGrip system generally pays for itself within months, and the maintenance-free chucks provide virtually unlimited service life.

Add this MVP to your line-up:

Check out our current promotion for the ThermoGrip Tool Holding System. Offer valid now through December 31, 2918.

Download our ThermoGrip PDF.

Contact your local Leitz consultant at (800) 253-6070, or fill out the form below, and we’ll get in touch.

Intelligent Tooling Driving Production

By Mike Lind

How intelligent tooling will operate in the smart factories of the future, starting today.

The Connected World and the Internet of Things

The world we live in is more connected than ever before. You may have heard the term ‘internet of things’, which generally means the internetworking of all things around us, from devices to buildings, to vehicles. We have refrigerators that can offer recipe tips based on the products within them. We can change the temperature in our homes with thermostats that can be adjusted remotely, and almost every late model vehicle has an on-board computer that provides on-demand system performance information. Smart devices are everywhere these days; even the meat smoker in your backyard can be monitored from your cell phone.

Industry 4.0: Linking the Panel Processing Industry

Today we are using cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, and cloud computing to develop the basis for the “Smart Factory”. The current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies will, sooner rather than later, become the norm in manufacturing.

In fact, there is already a huge amount of market presence in our wood products industries related to Industry 4.0. Trade shows and industry conferences are themed under the Industry 4.0 banner–most recently at Ligna in Hannover, Germany, our AWFS show in Las Vegas and the Holz-Handwerk Fair in Nuremberg, Germany. Each of these events had an inescapable Industry 4.0 presence. The smart factory is a highly focused topic for large companies who are the drivers and facilitators of the technology. And in our industry, the equipment manufacturers are putting a huge emphasis on Industry 4.0 through various platforms, touting the benefits it should provide.

We are seeing office furniture producers, kitchen cabinet giants and other market segment leaders as the early adopters of the technology. However, it is important to recognize that the smart factory, while rapidly evolving in the wood products industries, is still very much in the developmental phase. For everything to come together all the parts–including machines, software, and tools with embedded devices and readers–must work in concert together.

Managing the Data

The processes in woodworking are becoming more intricate and sophisticated. The increasing diversity of materials and surfaces (various species of wood and combinations of wood, aluminum, plastic, etc.) have very specific machining requirements. Batch size 1 production or new approaches for individualized mass production are ramping-up the need to understand what is happening in the machining environment at all times. Machines and the systems that run them are becoming more and more complex.

The probability of mistakes is more present than ever, and the impact and severity are heightened as process demands increase. Despite publishing information for proper cutting speed, feed rates and the like in catalogs, literature, and even in user guides provided with the tools, we still see evidence of improper tool use every day from customers around the world.

We are coming to the limit with the operator skill required and mind power available to manage the data in front of us and to manage it in a way that produces the desired products in an optimal and safe environment.

The Role of the Tooling Manufacturer in the Integrated System

Tool makers like Leitz are playing a role in enhancing the overall system. Through Embedded Chip Technology, RFID devices, and integrated QR codes, the tool becomes the gateway to a central database of information that improves process efficiency and reduces mistakes.

The basic results include:

  • Cataloged tool specifications and running parameters that remain with the tool always.
  • Real-time information captured during the operation of the tool and maintained as a quasi-database throughout the life of the tool.
  • Mistake-proofing of applications and programs through simulation and warning indications when a tool runs outside of design parameters.

The key concept with intelligent tooling is to make information available without the need to open the instruction manual. Every tool has a unique serial number; once you know the serial number, all the necessary information to run the tool is at hand for both man and machine.

leitz intelling tooling with QR codeRFID chips can contain a 3-D model with the exact geometry and dimension of the tool, so the machine software can simulate the machining process, ensuring safety during tool changes, and preventing crashes due to incorrect programming. Process-specific information can be kept as part of the tool data, facilitating set-up, increasing spindle up-time and decreasing the possibility of creating expensive scrap.

For this approach to be successful, an integrated system of tool, machine, measuring instruments, sharpening equipment, and data must work together. Starting with tools with chips or QR codes installed on machines, the machine then reads and utilizes the running parameters and programming information. Information is fed into computer systems or cloud computing networks. Alerts are sent to mobile devices when problems arise (e.g. machine parameters are exceeded). When the tools are removed from machines and sent for service, the event is logged into the database (location of tools can be determined). Relevant tool information (specifications, drawings, service instructions) can be accessed at the service center. When the tools have been serviced, any changes in specifications (diameter, reference points) are added to the tool database. The tool is reinstalled on the machine. Updated tool specifications are read by the software on the machine, and the cycle starts over. When the tool is serviced, key information can be synchronized with the company ERP system, including service tickets, on-hand inventory, and running status of tool life cycle with the ability to alert and send an order for new tools. And, we can monitor this entire process with an app like those that we use in our daily life.

 “Synchronizing Process Components” or something that communicates the orchestration that has to occur for the desired end result.

The tooling alone is not the driver. The process is only efficient and stable if all the parts – machine, tool, software, operator – are in accordance through proper communication. When expertly implemented, intelligent tooling offers several advantages:

  • Production quality improvements from optimized settings
  • Simplified tool set-up that is expedited due to information available on-demand
  • Process reliability because all the steps are verified and adjusted prior to running parts
  • Increased availability of resource = optimized utilization – not more, not less
  • Energy efficiency – dull tools are replaced at the right time, requiring less power consumption
  • Process know how
  • Expert system
  • “Learning-in” material and tool combinations
  • Every service and sharpening recorded as “tool history”
  • Sharpening procedure is documented and stays with the tool so that no mistakes are made in the service shop
  • Easy tracking and monitoring of tools, reducing the amount of capital employed
  • Automatic tool ordering, decreasing administration and paper

As our world rapidly changes around us, new business approaches and models are required. Owners, managers, and stakeholders need the freedom to concentrate on producing wood and wood-related products without process headaches. Intelligent tooling in the smart factory environment offers solutions that allow for a focus on the business at hand – producing doors, windows, furniture, cabinets and other products, in the most efficient way possible.