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Do You Have A Lead Person?

If your company (or department within your company) has several CNC machine tools, it's likely that machines are regularly down while setup people and operators perform relatively simple tasks. Consider, for example, the gathering of components needed in preparation to make a setup - or the gathering of inserts and other perishable items needed during a production run.

While these are extremely important tasks, they do not require the skill level of a CNC setup person or operator. Additionally, one person can perform these tasks for several machine tools. Your CNC machines are probably sitting idle while these tasks are being performed - if setup people and operators are performing them. Having someone else perform them will reduce downtime.

Gathering components can be an off-line non-productive task. That is, it is a task that can be done in preparation for a future job - while the machine is currently in production. But in order to move this task off line, it's likely that someone other than your setup people and operators must perform it (assuming your setup people and operators are busy).

And gathering components is but one task that setup people and operators commonly perform that doesn't require a high degree of skill. Truly, any task you see a setup person or operator performing while the machine is down probably falls into this category.

The more machines you have in your department or company, the more you can benefit by having another person performing these tasks. The goal is to allow your setup people and operators to do what they do best - and more importantly - to keep your machines running for as great a percentage of time as possible.

One way to accomplish these goals is to employ a special person (we're calling a lead person) to assist setup people and operators - again - minimizing the leg work the setup people and operators must do. In many companies, this can be the person that is scheduling work for the various CNC machine tools. Since this person schedules the jobs coming to each machine, they will have a good understanding of what will be needed for each job (and/or they can work from setup and production run documentation to find out).

Depending upon lot sizes and cycle times, one lead person can usually handle several machine tools - along with the other responsibilities they may have. If you already employ this kind of lead person and they're too busy to support machines as we're suggesting, then consider having a lesser skilled person do the gathering (commonly called a CNC helper). When you consider how much expensive machine time can be lost while setup people and operators perform simple tasks, this should be pretty easy to justify!

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