Original Date: 10/07/2002
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : CNC Strategist: Improving Throughput in CNC Programming
General Tool Company’s implementation of the Computer Numerical Control Strategist position resulted in a significant drop in the amount of reprogramming and also allowed the programmers to spend a larger part of their time developing expertise in advanced Computer Numerical Control programming technologies.
General Tool Company (GTC) has 32 Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine tools that are supported by four part programmers. These highly trained personnel use software from Unigraphics and Surfware to supply part programs for lathes, boring mills, and machining centers. In addition, these programmers have historically supported tooling selection and procurement as well as inventory management services for CNC operations.
As GTC’s CNC workload grew, it became increasingly difficult to efficiently provide the needed part programs. GTC discovered that as much as 60% of the programmers’ time was spent away from their workstations resolving peripheral issues such as tooling selection and resolving technical issues on the shop floor. These individuals were highly trained in the use of CNC software, yet they spent much of their time performing secondary tasks that resulted in significant bottlenecks in the programming department that could not be effectively resolved, except with the addition of more programmers.
GTC’s resolution of this problem was to further divide the labor required to move jobs from the manufacturing engineers to the part programmers by creating an intermediary called a CNC Strategist. Under this scenario, the manufacturing engineers spend more time developing the processes and performing project management functions, the CNC Strategist addresses all tooling-related issues and process problems, and the programmers focus on the production of high quality CNC code. The implementation of the CNC Strategist position resulted in a significant drop in the amount of reprogramming and also allowed the programmers to spend a larger part of their time developing expertise in advanced CNC programming technologies.
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