Guest post by Jesse Tyler, Waterjet consumable team leader
At Hypertherm, we spend a lot of time with our customers. There are a number of reasons for this. We want to see first-hand how they use our products, learn what improvements customers might like to see in future products, better understand the challenges customers face, etc. We always gain valuable insight from these visits. One of my favorite stories is from a customer who saved a ton of money in consumable costs because of one person’s idea. Better yet, the idea didn’t cost the company a cent.
An engineer wanted everyone at the company to better understand how much consumables cost. To do so, he created a “clean room” and put one person in charge of maintaining every single torch. This company had 26 or so HyPerformance plasma systems so they had a lot of torches. In addition, this person was tasked with tracking how much cutting was completed with each set of consumables. The change was very helpful. By having one trained person track consumable wear, consumables were switched out at the right time and not any sooner than needed.
Still, this engineer felt more could be done. He decided the post the price per part on the clean room window. Various teams at the company saw this and started a competition amongst each other to see who could produce the highest quality and quantity of cutting with the lowest possible consumable cost. No financial incentive was included. The prize was simply bragging rights. The engineer estimates this impromptu competition has helped the company save $100,000 in consumable costs a year. Though this particular example involved plasma consumables, I wonder if a similar idea might work with plasma and laser consumables. After all, there are consumable costs associated with those systems as well.