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QDC The Whole Story
QDC The Whole Story By: Jim Szumera - MACOR Published on: 02/24/2015
QDC (SMED) Quick Die Change
Do you still feel like you’re hemorrhaging money?
QDC is only one piece of the puzzle.
The quick die change movement is getting long in the tooth and little misleading when it is focused only on the storage, retrieval, movement and installation of the die in the press. Although this is an excellent first step, it represents only a piece of the puzzle. I like to look at quick die change as part of a larger process. That process is called production readiness. It makes no sense to invest in equipment and procedure to remove and install dies into the press without addressing upstream and downstream activities and tasks. For instance, what is the value of reducing die set up time from 1 hour to 15 minutes, when it takes an hour to get a quality verification to run production. What is the process for production approval? Are gages readily available? What type of gage is being used? Who has floor authority to run jobs on deviation? What about the turn around time in die maintenance? Have the bottlenecks been eliminated? Is there redundancy? Are the tools properly supported? Can you create tooling kits and modules to facilitate changeovers? Is the documentation forthcoming, available and up to date?

I like to set up a Value Stream Map of the entire process, beginning with the die maintenance area. For example, I have witnessed die technicians walking a 500 yards or more to complete the task of punch sharpening. The dies are disassembled in an area apart from where the maintenance is actually performed. Adding to that problem, the punches are sharpened individually in different machine set ups. Basically, the technician dissembles the die, then travels back to his bench area to retrieve tools required for the removal of components. Then he travels to the grinding area to sharpen the components.
Kaizen Events can reveal and correct many of these issues, resulting in optimum production readiness. Die maintenance creates many bottlenecks to the overall performance objectives of the company. If you would like more information please contact me at
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The Seven Deadly Sins of Metal Stamping
The Seven Deadly Sins of Metal Stamping By: Jim Szumera - MACOR Published on: 01/29/2015
The Seven Deadly Sins of Metal Stamping
1. Overtime is one of my biggest expenses. I frequently work overtime in order to catch up or repair breakdowns.
The root cause here can be several factors. Production planning may be lacking the ability to properly plan production. This can produce delays and shifts in die maintenance resources. The tools may not be adequately designed to handle the existing requirements. They may be poorly designed to begin with. The die maintenance process lacks procedure. Spare tooling may not be available. This can be caused by premature tool wear and not realizing the full capability of the tool for various reasons. Bypassing press controls such as miss feed detectors cause die damage and tool breakage. Any overtime should always be scheduled and contain specific goals or achievements.
2. My tools do not produce good parts the first time in the press or they require constant adjustments. I constantly live in a “hit or miss” production environment.
The hit or miss environment can be caused by running the same tool in different machines and each time a change is made the die must be married up to that machine, either with shims or grinding. There is no procedure or set up process. The tool is serviced in different ways by different people who can cause variances. No process in place. No tooling checks.
The raw material itself can cause part variations. This condition also contributes to overtime expense.
3. I miscue in communication or “handoffs” between shifts and personnel causing tool breakage or unnecessary downtime.
This usually happens because of a lack of a clearly written or oral plan that is understood by all.
4. Tools seem to be incapable of completing production releases for various reasons.
This can be caused by running the tool above its recommended rate. Running tools too fast can cause miss hits and tool damage, especially to fragile components. It can also be caused by inferior design or inadequate tool steel wear components. The part may be toleranced to close or incorrectly to account for any mechanical fluctuation in the raw material properties. Bypassing press controls such as miss feed detectors cause die damage and tool breakage.
5. I have to slow the press speed, or perform various tricks in order to make acceptable parts.
Again, the rate of production may have been pegged too high in the first place. It takes time to move or form metal. The tool set up procedure may be lacking. The raw material may not be to specification.
6. I am frequently “overproducing” when the tools are running good in order to get a “cushion”.
Production control usually develops these habits caused by fear from the tools history. Over time, this can cause inventory to rise across the board.
7. My production control department cannot schedule jobs in real time for fear of missing delivery dates. The ‘everything is hot” mentality takes over, usually plant wide.
Most production control departments usually pad their actual requirements, thinking that affords some kind of guarantee to make delivery.

All of these sins can be eliminated over time. It takes dedication through a cultural change within the organization to break these cycles. You can’t take it personal but first a company must be able to see itself as others do. The question becomes where am I now and where do I want to go? What are my obstacles to success? Where do I put my investment dollars? Is it mostly in the “front office” and not in the back end or production end? Is money spent on the finest conference tables and computer systems available, while at the same time trying to find the lowest cost tooling available, with the belief that lowering those costs puts more money in my pocket? Do I have a written plan to replace or upgrade tool room and production machinery? Do I execute on that plan? The culture change must also involve having the right people and processes in place, with a strict adherence to those processes. These are only a few thoughts about addressing the issues in today’s stamping plants. Each company has its own unique set of problems and the message here is to be able to recognize and eliminate those problems or obstacles. For more information about what you can do specifically contact Jim Szumera at
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Transitioning Your Die Shop  Part 4-Sustainability
Transitioning Your Die Shop Part 4-Sustainability By: Jim Szumera - MACOR Published on: 10/13/2014
Transitioning Your Die Shop- Part 4, Sustainability

In the previous parts we discussed the needed parameters to have in place. This is simplicity, documentation and people. The last piece in the transition is sustainability. How do we maintain a successful transition now and in the future? As we all know, change can be difficult. This is especially true on an individual basis.

A good foundation begins with a strong team and team effort. There are four ingredients to building good teams, forming, storming, norming and performing. The forming is the actual naming of team members, which we have done in part 3. Storming is a team building process that happens shortly after the team is formed. This is where there is usually no agreement, consensus or sense of accomplishment. Personalities and individualism take over. It may take several weeks for the team to become focused at the task at hand. Norming is a team process whereby everyone starts to understand the team goals and expectations. They now start to learn to work together. Performing is the final phase of successful team building. Now we can realize results.

To create a continuum, the team must meet once a day for a ½ hour to discuss the daily agenda. These meeting are intended to strictly focus on the issues and productivity. Once a month the team should meet with management for 1 hour to discuss processes, possible improvements, and production issues. After several months the daily team meetings can be substituted for a weekly meeting for 1 hour. The meetings should be formal and focused.

Training consistent with your operations is necessary. The training should focus on die maintenance, Kaizen and team skills. The training should also be continuous.

Kaizen is a critical component for success, especially 5S. The new environment for die maintenance should be organized and equipped to meet any demand.
The availability of tools, instructions, prints and materials is necessary in preventing lost time and frustration. A visual workplace plays an important role. Public checklists, signs, reminders and direction should be available and seen. Think of this as a system of checks and balances or error proofing.

Good Administration is also an important ingredient to success. Remember that we are to enable our workforce in every possible manner. This includes the administration. Purchasing, HR, Engineering are all considered services to die maintenance. Die maintenance cannot be stalled by waiting for a service. A designee can act as a liaison for these services. I like to draw the analogy to driving a car. Which takes longer to fix, running out of gas on the highway or stopping at a station to fill up?

Transitioning your die maintenance area away from the strict reliance upon skilled craftsman will result in substantial cost savings and create a productive streamlined process which can adapt to most any environment. Of course, it won’t happen overnight. It will take dedication and commitment from all management levels. Economic times will drive the rethinking of your business. This is change. Are you ready for it?

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