Learn From Your Mistakes

Admit it. There have been instances in which an operator’s mistake or a programming error turned one of your shop’s perfectly good cutters into a deformed creature.

Article From: 6/1/2008 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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Admit it. There have been instances in which an operator’s mistake or a programming error turned one of your shop’s perfectly good cutters into a deformed creature like this tool to the left.

So, what happened to this tool? Well, an operator accidentally advanced the coolant-through drill in rapid mode smack-dab into a tombstone. The tip broke off and the $200 tool split down the middle. Its two halves wrapped around each other and nearly became welded together at the top. Now, it’s a member of the shop’s “Hall of Shame,” one of a collection of damaged tools that reminds employees of what can go wrong if all parties in a shop don’t stay on the top of their games.

Learning from those mistakes reduces the chance that a similar problem will occur again. Busche, a shop we profiled last October (click here for the article), has a formal procedure to do just that. (No, Busche isn’t the shop that killed this drill.)

There are seven plants on Busche’s expansive Ohio campus. One of these serves as a “central store”—a repository for all the plants’ cutting tools. Within this central store is an area where all damaged tools are collected in addition to an operator’s description of what might have caused the cutter carnage. Each day, shop managers gather to examine recently broken tools in an effort to identify repeating problems and suggest possible solutions. The benefits of this formal meeting should be obvious. All shops should have a similar procedure in place.

Does your shop have its own Hall of Shame—a batch of tools that have dramatically bitten the dust for one reason or another? If so, I’d like to see an example of what you consider the best (or worst) of your “cutting tools gone wild.” Send me an e-mail including a photo and brief description of what the heck happened. More importantly, tell me what you learned from the mishap. If we get enough responses, we might put together a collage online or in print. The names of operators and shops will be withheld to protect the innocent.

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