You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink

April 13, 2018


Alpha company approached DMI to cnc router cut blanks for a special project that they were staring. They would provide material, and the cnc cutting files and DMI would provide cutting time. This was a perfect arrangement for both companies.

Having a very high standard for DMI, and the parts that we produce, I could see that the provided cut files were not cutting parts to our high standard. Alpha company, as standard procedure in their facility, had people taking the pieces cut on their router and sand the edges to clean up the parts for the next stage of production.

My goal for DMI when taking outsourced parts from another manufacturer is to produce better parts and to out-hustle their own facility. So I set out to improve upon the provided programming. Initially, I began by adjusting the spindle speeds and cutting feed speeds looking for better edge quality. While this did improve somewhat on the edge quality and would have been acceptable to the customer, I was still not satisfied. The next step in problem-solving cut quality issues on cnc routed parts is to look at the quality of the edge cut on the piece and compare that to the edge quality on the waste material side of the cut. It was apparent when examined that the waste side of the cut had a better quality of cut. I began requesting the programming be completed with the cut reversed or as is known as a climb cut.

While the climb cut had improved significantly, the life of the cutter was shortened. To combat the router bit life issue, I began to take the supplied cut files and reprogram them on my software to use a two router bit cutting system. Router bit number one would make an oversize rough cut on the piece, and router bit number two would make a finish climb cut on the part. Benefits to this system are two-fold the tool life of the finish cut router bit was extended, and when the finish cut quality degraded, the finish cut router bit was rotated into the rough cut router bit position.

Epilog:
By the time I had completed my cutting system Alpha company was completely bypassing, sending our parts through their edge cleaning department. Our pieces were sent straight to the next process then to shipping, thereby saving them hours and money.

Once Alpha company picked up on the fact that climb cutting was producing better parts, they internally began to climb cut parts. Now I did keep a few trade secrets, so Alpha company has only improved its parts but not to the standard of DMI. Alpha company also has the issue of a parts per day standard for their cnc router operators, which does not give them the incentive for improving part quality off of the router only for meeting a part quantity standard.

Moral of the story:
DMI is going to do it better than your company every time every day saving you money in the process. A lesson not learned by management in companies DMI has completed overflow work for. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make them drink.

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MY BUSINESS MUSE

My reflections gathered through reading, listening, personal work experience and observation 

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.

Peter Drucker

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