Shop tracks tools and streamlines production

Shop tracks tools and streamlines production

MetalQuest Unlimited, an automated machining facility outside Hebron, Neb., not only needed to control its tooling inventory, but also wanted to gather tool-use information at point-of-use for a better understanding of tool-consumption rates f

With the shop's ToolBoss E-storage tool-inventory-control system, personnel at MetalQuest quickly get the tools needed for particular jobs, and management tracks tool use.


MetalQuest Unlimited, an automated machining facility outside Hebron, Neb., not only needed to control its tooling inventory, but also wanted to gather tool-use information at point-of-use for a better understanding of tool-consumption rates for particular jobs. The shop turned to Kennametal Inc., Latrobe, Pa., which recommended its ToolBoss E-storage tool-inventory-control system with imbedded tool-management software that stores a multitude of tools.

With the system, MetalQuest saves time and money by tracking tool inventory, raising operator accountability and providing tool-use data, as well as providing machine operators an orderly place to store inserts, tools, tool parts and unrelated tools used in the shop. In addition, the system accommodates multiple items, including non-Kennametal tools, in single drawers and in a more-organized fashion than prior practices. As a result, the shop improves its real time knowledge of inventory levels, and operators find tools in 30 seconds, as compared with the 5 minutes they spent searching through miscellaneous drawers, toolboxes and canisters on the shop floor.

Operators at MetalQuest never run out of tools because re-stocking inserts, drills, taps and end mills happens as often as needed with ToolBoss. Shops store enough tools to re-stock daily, weekly, monthly or every other month, depending on consumption rates and the amount of space required for stored items.

Locking-cabinets next to the ToolBoss hold basic tools that are issued with a key vended from the ToolBoss. The setup lets MetalQuest easily monitor the use of less-costly inventory. Many ToolBoss shops use job status or set-up sheets, as well as an optional barcode reader to accelerate setup and production times. The system virtually eliminates mistakes caused by or resulting from operators choosing the wrong tool for a particular job.

At MetalQuest, setup sheets integrated with ToolBoss instruct operators how to prepare machines for specific jobs and indicate which inserts, toolholder and toolholder parts they will need for a job. Operators quickly search or scroll down a computer screen on the front of the ToolBoss and pick what is needed.

ToolBoss, a Pentium-class computer, runs on Microsoft Windows 2000, which operates Kennametal's Automated Tool Management Solutions software. The menu includes a real-time ordering option that complements the system's tool kitting, pre-setting and toolassemblymanagement features. A network card lets MetalQuest maintain a database on its existing network for checking stock, conducting analysis and placing orders from other computers. Although the shop has a four-bay setup, each

ToolBoss controls up to 10 bays in one unit, all programmed to hold an unlimited quantity of items. kennametal.com

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