Most shops have a good idea of how many lineal feet of material they will need to order and have on hand to fill a job. General practice is to cushion your inventory order to account for missed cuts and any errors in quoting for the project. This practice allows for a buildup of extra stock on hand over time, or as we like referring to it, a nice safety net. But as it turns out, this “safety net” is not so safe after all.
The Salvage Pile
Why is that? Well, in addition to the inherent problems with having too much inventory (see “7 Deadly Wastes”) another practice born out of cushioning your inventory is that, oftentimes, there are remnants, also know as salvage, cutoffs, and leftover stock, that are put in a pile to be used at some unspecified time for an unspecified job. In short, parts really start to pile up.
(When we say remnants, salvage, cutoffs, leftovers, etc., we mean parts that have been cut to a certain, very usable length and then left to pile up for use at a later date. So, similar in a sense to inventory, but also a beast of its own.)
This salvage pile has a tendency to multiply exponentially. It is, in essence, a big “to-do list” of parts that stack up and up and up. In times of high production, it’s simply faster to pull a full fresh stock length and cut parts with it rather than to use a remnant part that has been previously cut. But even during times of low production, people tend to avoid reaching for the salvage pile, as it’s more work, after all, to figure out how to get the best yield out of a part that is a random length. It’s faster and easier to grab a full stock.
Optimize to Save Money and Space
So, what happens to that huge remnant pile? Well, it often ends up getting recycled for pennies on the dollar, sold in bulk, or worse, added to the clutter of a workstation. And who do you think pays to store these unused bits of stock? You do.
These cutoffs are already-paid-for parts that should be used and not stored until the end of time. Why would you pay to house a huge salvage pile when you can make parts out of it and collect the full worth of the material? The most difficult task at hand is to get your operator, who, let’s face it, may not care enough about your bottom line, to use these remnants as they show up and not pile them up. This is quite difficult and takes a change in your shop’s mentality. Fighting the status quo, or “what has always been,” is extremely difficult.
What we advise doing is using an optimizing system that gets the best yield out of whatever stock length you feed it. Voila. But what do we mean by an optimizing system? For example, TigerStop has software called Dynamic Optimization. It tells you how to get the best yield out of your material by telling you which pieces to cut first and at what lengths, resulting in the tiniest piece of scrap or no scrap at all when you’re done.
It enables you to get parts out of stock that has already been paid for. Pretty cool, huh? Who doesn’t like free money! Really, though, it allows you to use the whole of the stock you have already paid for (not-so “free money” after all). Now you aren’t throwing money away by holding on to stock and taking up valuable real estate or getting rid of usable material.
Optimize to Save on Labor and Salvage
When you use a TigerStop with Dynamic Optimization and Crayon Defect Marking, a UV crayon is used to mark the beginning and end of your defects and knots. It’s even possible to process several pieces of salvage at once! All you have to do is place multiple pieces of salvage in a row, emulating a full stock length, and use the UV crayon to mark the beginning and end of the salvage. The software will read the space between the individual salvage pieces as defects or knots and process the parts accordingly for the best yield.
Additionally, when using an optimizing system, you can take that cushion out of your material ordering. You’re free to order just enough material for the job at hand and no more. This way, you aren’t warehousing more stock than you need. And you can keep a closer eye on your supplier.
Optimizing allows you to run your “worst first,” or your remnants before using your full pieces of stock. When done with the job, you’ll have minimal to no scrap to recycle and negligible amounts of salvage, which become the first parts of the next cut list. You see the pattern here. No more growing pile of cutoffs.
Now you have less work for your operator, as he is simply entering a cut list and the length of stock being used. He doesn’t need to do any extra math or calculations.
Although remnants start as a small issue, they can severely impact your bottom line. Take care of your salvage pile right away and make it into usable parts. Don’t brush remnants under the carpet. Don’t let partially used parts pile up as inventory. Use an optimizing system today.
By Mathias Forsman