How to Evaluate Your Sheet Metal Nesting Process | Part 1 of 4

How to Evaluate the Nesting Process

Steps to Evaluate the Nesting Process

Most would agree that sheet metal nesting is process.  There are steps; some sequential, some parallel. The activities flow; sometimes well, sometimes not so well. Decisions are made, information is shared, and actions are taken.  The sum of which is a process.

Even though there is significant value to looking critically at the process, most manufacturers rarely review the it unless there is a mandate to begin a Lean Initiative, a major problem, or an alternative sheet metal software solution is under consideration, which is sometimes indicative of a major problem.   Why? Because the day to day management of the process is all consuming.

That being the case, I would encourage you to take a step back and give some constructive, considered thought to what is your nesting process, why is it that way, and how would it benefit from change.

What do you gain from reviewing your sheet metal nesting process?

Let’s start with a clear understanding of why this undertaking has value.  As with reviewing any process a number of benefits arise.  It may not be pretty to see the “dirt under the sofa” but understanding the current process first is the only way to methodically make improvements without unintentionally disrupting or impairing production.

Here is what you can hope to gain by taking a serious look at the status quo.

  • Identify process-related problems and take proactive, corrective action.
  • Find occasions for new efficiencies – time and material.
  • Reduce or eliminate redundant effort.
  • Unearth error-producing steps.
  • Find opportunities for training or cross-training.
  • Look for opportunities for automation or integration – which may or may not be available with your current sheet metal nesting software.

The Evaluation Process – An Architecture for Process Change

Any process can be evaluated by breaking it down into each of its component steps and then putting those steps under a microscope.  One can review a process with three easy steps. We’ll break down the steps involved in evaluating any process, then we’ll use those tools to scope in on the CNC nesting process.

Step 1. Describe the process

There is a lot of opportunities for insight in just describing what you know – and don’t know – about how the process works.

  1. Who is involved this process?
  2. How is it done? What steps are involved? What is the sequence of steps?
  3. Where are the decisions made and by whom or how?
  4. How is data transferred? What are the communication links?  Are those points of communication critical or informational?
  5. Who knows this process and/or where is the data and process routine documented?  Is it tribal knowledge (information in someone’s memory and not written down)?
  6. Are there any red flag triggers?  What happens when a red flag is triggered?

Step 2. Evaluate the process

With a clear map of the who, what, when, and where of a process, I will turn now to “why” and “how come?”  It’s important to stay focused on the process itself here.  This isn’t about people or personalities.

  1. Is the process working or not working?
  2. Why is it done this way?
  3. If it’s not working, what’s the root of the problem – policy, process, personnel (training)?
  4. Is the problem structural or situation-based?
  5. What challenges arise from this set of circumstances?
  6. Does the process impede stated goals?  Does the process take too much time or create error?
  7. Are there resources left idle or underutilized because of a process bottleneck?

Step 3. Evaluate alternatives –

Now – and only now – that there is clarity on what the process is and the issues uncovered is it time to look for solutions.  Any sooner and you may very easily solve a non-problem, or worse  yet, make the situation worse.

  1. What would happen if there was a change?
  2. What would it take to make the change?
  3. What challenges would arise if the change was implemented?
  4. What are the priorities in choosing an alternative?
  5. What are the pros & cons of each alternative solution?  On what basis should they be evaluated?  Are there conflicting interests among the decision makers , and how will they be reconciled?

In the upcoming blog posts we’ll apply this three step method of evaluating a process to each of the steps in nesting.

  1. Collection or creation of geometry
  2. Creation of the part program
  3. Collection or input of orders
  4. Creation of the nest and tool path
  5. Output of the tool path to the CNC machine

You can expect a list of hard questions to help describe what you’re doing now, evaluate each step, and look at alternative solutions.

In the meantime, let us know what you’re thinking.  What is your process?  How is it working?  What would you like to see happen?

For more information on a sheet metal nesting process that works, contact Optimation.

Notice: This work is licensed under a BY-NC-SA. Permalink: How to Evaluate Your Sheet Metal Nesting Process | Part 1 of 4

3 comments on “How to Evaluate Your Sheet Metal Nesting Process | Part 1 of 4

  1. Pingback: How well is your part ordering system working? | Optimation Nesting Software Blog

  2. Pingback: Evaluating the Sheet Metal Nesting Process | Part 4 of 4 | Optimation Nesting Software Blog

  3. Pingback: Best Sheet Metal Nesting Process Questions | CAD to CAM | Optimation Nesting Software Blog

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