LMT toolmanagement – 100% teamwork for success
This job will always be highly complex – irrespective of whether you’re setting up a brand-new production plant on a green-field site or improving existing processes: when you decide to optimize your tool logistics, you find yourself confronted by a multitude of questions. LMT tool managers can not only help you find the right answers, but will also support the process through different stages and levels. The basis for this effort is 100% teamwork.
Jürgen Freund, head of international tool services at LMT Tool Systems, can cite many examples to describe just how different the job of toolmanagement is from case to case. His tool experts organize and manage tool supply in entirely different kinds of companies and industries – ranging from large carmaking plants to small and medium-sized businesses.
Guaranteeing tool supply in record time
“Let’s first take the example of a large German car transmission plant in Asia. At the beginning of 2009 all that was standing was the bare shell for one production area; today the company produces up to 300,000 transmission systems a year – using roughly 700 different tools in the process. In other words, we did not only have to be very quick about putting the toolmanagement system in place, but we also had to get countless processes running,” Freund explains the mammoth task involved. LMT toolmanagement specialists are still on the spot taking care of the entire system today – from setup to delivering tools to the machines to reconditioning and the whole business of procurement logistics. The advantages for the customer’s production planners in China are crystal clear: LMT toolmanagement reduced the complexity of the start-up phase and guarantees costs for the entire duration of the project.
Simple solutions for the small private businesses
LMT tool managers also contribute the know-how gained in complex projects to small and medium-sized enterprises and other industries. “It doesn’t always have to be a Complete Care System,” acknowledges LMT toolmanagement expert Christian Johns. “Just using a simple kanban system with withdrawal and storage boxes in the production process enables us to ensure that tools are always available, warehouse stocks are optimized and tool use is documented.” Smaller businesses also benefit from this kind of approach – for example, because a tool is always kept available at the lowest possible cost and tool procurement is consolidated. Larger purchasing volumes in turn ensure better procurement terms.
Entire tool flow under scrutiny
Considering they deal with different sizes of company and different industries, how do the tool managers approach the task? “We definitely examine the whole production system. It doesn’t make any sense at all to deploy what is supposedly the best tool for a machining centre if the production flow is not optimized to make use of different tools. The ultimate goal is to significantly improve overall production performance and reduce tool costs,” explains Freund. Achieving the best results entails putting everything under scrutiny – from tool logistics to engineering and the optimization of tool deployment to the reconditioning of used tools. Incidentally, it goes without saying that LMT tool managers do not only evaluate and use tools from their own group, but also from other manufacturers. “We aim to ensure that customers receive the right tools and production technologies for their particular application. They often come from LMT, particularly in the fields of application in which we are technology leaders, but the decisive factor here is the optimum mix,” explains LMT tool manager Thomas Reimers.
- LMT toolmanagement offers five levels of service with each level generating higher cost-reduction potential.
Meeting actual needs: stepping up to full service
The LMT toolmanagement team offers a very broad range of possible measures which are organized in five levels with each building on the next:
• Level 1: Only tool procurement is provided.
• Level 2: Additionally, a tool manager provides guidance on tool logistics and use.
• Level 3: Tools are procured, supplied directly to the manufacturing location and administered by tool managers. They produce technical analyses and optimize the process.
• Level 4: Pre-assembled and pre-set tools are delivered directly to the machine. The toolmanagement team assumes the tasks of tool administration and tool logistics including tool reconditioning and coating.
• Level 5 – Complete Care: A separate team of LMT tool managers remains on the spot at the customer’s site and permanently takes care of process optimization, production processes, tool setup, tool maintenance and storage. This enables the team to improve process reliability. Payment is calculated on the basis of the number of workpieces produced (CPU).
Toolmanagement benefits from LMT’s multiple specialists
Trust is everything in toolmanagement, perhaps more so than in any other area of cooperation between two companies. “The basic prerequisite for success in our work is a 100% partnership with our customer. This LMT service is characterized by openness, transparency and teamwork. Otherwise it would be impossible. How else can you go about optimizing highly complex production systems and interdependent machining centres that use several hundred different tools in a joint effort involving constant dialogue?” asks Freund. Against this background it should come as no surprise that providing guidance and training for the customer’s employees is an equally important matter: “We pass on our knowledge in numerous training measures to ensure that users on the spot are actually able to realize the anticipated productivity gains,” adds Freund.
In addition to this team-based philosophy, customers also benefit from a second major advantage that LMT can offer as a group: the various companies within the LMT Group and its alliance partners are all specialists with high levels of expertise in research, development and production in the respective applications and technologies in which they lead. LMT is a multiple specialist. This enormous breadth of competence naturally also benefits the tool managers. When necessary, they can call upon the specialists within the company for guidance on practically all important tool applications – from tool clamping and gear-cutting to milling, thread moulding, turning and drilling to the machining of composites or heavy-duty cutting.
How does the head of LMT international tool services view the future prospects of his business area? Jürgen Freund is optimistic: “Of course, competition is also forcing metalworking and plastics processing firms to rationalize, but in many cases it is simply not cost-effective for these companies to supply the necessary human resources themselves. That is precisely where we come into play and are able to produce very fast and direct results.” Just how spectacular these can be is demonstrated by the example of the car manufacturer producing over 460,000 transmission systems a year. The overall annual costs for tool procurement and logistics – without toolmanagement – came to 12 million euros. A cost reduction of 20% was achieved after only three years of work by a tool manager.