How a tool management kiosk makes the Missouri job shop more efficient

Davis Tool & Die believes that its investment in an automatic tool dispenser several years ago was a laudable undertaking as the business grew.

Employee Mike Auman enters a tool request on the Robocrib machine. Photo courtesy of Davis Tool & Die.

As the country’s manufacturing economy grows, so does the need for computerized inventory management of manufacturing tools.

Businesses of all sizes are finding that industrial vending machines – also known as MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) machines – help track tools and allocate precise tool costs to work orders.

Davis Tool & Die, a die maker based in Fenton, Missouri, believes its investment in an automatic tool dispenser several years ago was a worthwhile investment when the company had more than 60 employees, according to Doug Green, a seller who served as the buyer when the company decided to invest in the technology.

Green told Kiosk Marketplace in a recent interview that he ordered unnecessary tools because he had difficulty tracking tools in tool cabinets located in different rooms. Most of the tools are industrial cutters, drills and end mills.

“A lot of times people would come into the office and grab two cutters when they only needed one,” Green said. “They used one and put one in their box as a backup. They were afraid, ‘maybe when I come back, there won’t be any there.’

“If you’ve got 40 guys doing that, there’s a lot of unused perishable tools out there,” he said. “If we rummaged through everyone’s boxes, there would be a ton of unused cutters.”

Kiosk offers a solution

To correct the problem, the company installed a Robocrib 1000 to allow employees to access over 100 items and know who had which tools at all times. As a result, the company reduced its cost of tool consumption by 20%, according to a case study by the machine’s manufacturer, Autocrib.

By ordering tools that were not needed within a given timeframe, the company incurred excessive costs; the company does not recover the cost of a tool until it is paid for the work for which the tool is used.

Theft was not a problem, as employees simply weren’t getting tools to the correct cabinet in a timely manner, Green said.

“A lot of times we ran out of certain items that we used regularly,” he said. In many cases, the tools were on site, simply unavailable because they were not returned correctly.

“A lot of times people wouldn’t tell you when we took one,” Green said. “If we ran out of tools and someone didn’t let me know, I would put that tool on my order list and order those tools.

“We decided to start looking for options to try to eliminate this,” he said. He found Autocrib, the maker of a computerized tracking system, on the Internet.

It didn’t take long for the management of Davis Tool & Die to support Green’s plan to install a Robocrib machine.

A versatile machine

One of the advantages of the Robocrib machine is that it can hold tools from different tool manufacturers as opposed to machines which are only designed to hold tools from one manufacturer.

The machine was easy for employees to learn, Green said, because most employees are familiar with computers. “It’s a fairly simple system to use,” he said.

In addition to tracking over 100 tools, the system has been found to be useful for estimating job costs, measuring the time the tool has been used on a specific job so that this cost can be included in the customer’s billing. .

The machine software, which integrates with the company’s resource planning software, accurately tracks the machine’s usage time for a specific job, allowing the company to allocate the cost of the machine. appropriate tool for the job.

“We wanted to have more precise labor costs,” Green said. “At the end of a job, we would know how many of these tools were used so you can accurately calculate it for the job. “

At the start of a job, the employee enters the number of the tool he needs on the machine’s touch screen. The transparent plastic door of the compartment containing this tool – and only this door – opens automatically.

“He puts his employee number on so you know who took the tool,” Green said. “You put (also) a work number for the cost calculation, then you put the part number. You know you want a half inch end mill. She would show everything with half an inch on it, and you choose what you want. “

Although the machine offers return tools, most tools used by Davis Tool & Die are for a limited time, so they are not returned after use.

“Ours are perishable tools, so you wouldn’t want to hand a half-used one back,” Green said.

Adaptable compartments

The company can adjust the size of the compartments according to the size of the tools.

The machine contains 80-90% of the tools workers need, the rest being tools that are too large for compartments.

Supervisors can see in real time which tools are available. They can also access a list of items near the replenishment point.

The machine can be programmed to automatically rearrange based on stock levels, but Davis Tool & Die did not use this feature.

Green declined to give a specific number, but said the machine cost between $ 10,000 and $ 20,000.

Considering the amount of tools the company uses, Green said there’s no doubt the investment paid off in no time.

Geraldine D. Luckett