How does one lose a tortoise? The irony of this poster telling the would be finder of the lost tortoise how to secure the tortoise is not lost on me.

Our sympathies to the family that lost dear old Snappy Nappy…

We are unconvinced that the tortoise has boroughed (or burrowed!) into the soil. We think that he has made his slow but certain escape, carrying along his former owner’s investment with him.

This poster found on a local phone pole raises a different question for us in the precision machining business.

How many “tortoises” are we letting walk out of our shop each day?

Here are a couple of Snappy Tortoises of Cash that might just be slowly making their way (with your money attached!) out the door at your precision machining shop:

Running machines too slow. That’s a tortoise if there ever was one.  Modern materials and coatings are made for higher speeds. You need higher speeds to be successful. In fact, my colleague Bob Drab at Schmolz and Bickenbach gives this advice when running his company’s Ugima brand machinability treated steels: “Faster! Harder! Deeper!” That doesn’t sound like tortoise logic to me…

Compressed air. Compressed air as a tortoise? You bet. Leaks are money slowly walking out the door, every hour that you run your compressor. Speaking about that compressor, just how efficient is it compared to the latest technology?As the prices of utilities continue to escalate, a cost study on your air compressor may wrangle all those compressed air tortoises back into the corral.

Lighting. Utilities are a large expense to our machining businesses. How old is your lighting technology? How far are the lights from where your employees need the illumination? What technology are you using? Your local utility may have grants or rebates to assist you in upgrading your shops’ lighting to more efficient technology.

Tooling. I never met a purchasing agent that didn’t like a bargain. Why buy expensive drills when these cheap jobber drills will do? So thinks the PA’s I had to work with. It’s not the cost of the tool that matters, it is the cost to make each part and how many can be made per shift. Cheap drills do not mean cheaper cost per hole if they fail sooner, require more downtime for adjustment, resharpening, or slower cycle times.

Chasing raw material prices. As long as we are discussing the role of the purchasing agent- increasing the number of suppliers  of raw material increases the variability of the machinability that your shop has to face. Chasing prices to save a buck on raw material makes no sense if you lose hundreds of dollars a day in missed production while your crew struggles to get the job running because the material doesn’t perform the same. Standardizing material supply is the best way to keep machines running consistently.

What tortoise have we missed?

We’ve identified a handful of tortoises who are slowly taking your cash with them on their way out. Can you help us find a few more tortoises? Let’s put them in a box or a basket before they excape again…