Keeping the CNC Operator Busy

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Productivity tips for operators while nested part runs are in progress. March 17, 2005

What additional duties can a CNC operator typically do while he is waiting for parts to run? We are nesting, and some nests take 1-1/2 minutes and some take up to 18 minutes. What can be done with that time other than take parts off and labeling them? Are you using labels or marking parts with marking pencil? We mark parts on edges and labels don't stick.

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor A:
We just have the guy break off the junk pieces, shred them and dispose of the waste, keeping everything clean, throwing away all the little scrap pieces that are no good and cutting up the pieces that can be of use down to the correct size. There’s not much someone can do other than that here because our nests take maximum 90 seconds to finish

From contributor B:
I'll be feeding the parts through the bander while a pattern is cutting. Usually I've got the whole job banded as the last sheet is cut.

From contributor C:
Waste disposal, edgebanding, assembly, background edit programming, tool maintenance, material handling -oh yes, I almost forgot - a broom! There are a lot of ancillary things that can be done, however be careful not to stretch your operators too thin - production, quality and safety should be paramount concerns in my mind.

From contributor D:
A wide variety of things can be done, but make sure he never leaves the proximity of the machine, just in case he has to hit the E-stop for any reason.

From contributor E:
A lot of our parts get T-Molding so, we built T-Molding work stations that can be moved with a pallet jack in front of each CNC machine. While the machine is running a part - boring, routing and slotting - the operator T-Molds the previous part. It drives me crazy to have an employee just sitting watching a machine work. We have 2 machines and sometimes we are running parts with long cycle times. In these cases we have one person running both CNC machines.

From contributor F:
We keep a belt sander and a shaper next to the router, so while we are waiting, we are sanding and shaping other parts. Also, the computer is nearby for programming new parts.