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Integrating Optimization, Inventory and Scrap Management

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Integrating Optimization, Inventory and Scrap Management

If there is one persistently frustrating aspect of cutting plastic sheets, it is figuring out what to do with the remnants. How do you decide what remnant size is worth keeping? How do you organize your remnant inventory? How in the world are you going to find these pieces again when you need them?

In the struggle to answer these questions another important aspect of many cutting operations is often ignored: optimization. Saving and logging remnant pieces is a great way to improve your bottom line, but it is a “post process” method of increasing efficiency and only works if the remnants can be properly logged and recovered when needed.

Optimization increases efficiency before the first sheet is even cut. In its most basic form, an optimizer calculates how to maximize material yield based on your raw material sizes and your cut list parts. Most modern optimizers also take advantage of machine parameters such as stack (or book) height and can link to computerized CNC equipment. Some can be set to optimize factors besides material yield, such as material cost, machine operating time and labor costs.

So which aspect deserves more focus? Using an optimizer in its yield mode increases yield and reduces the number of remnants. That means the remnants do not pile up as quickly and there is more time to effectively manage a smaller scrap inventory, something the optimizer can help you with as well.

An optimizer with a scrap management feature makes it very easy to keep track of remnant inventory because it can keep track of all part list data throughout the entire manufacturing process. You use the optimizer to get the best fit for your parts and the program will detect remnants for you before you even cut the first sheet. Recovering the remnants can be done within the same program using customizable barcode labels. Since all the part data is in the optimization software it is a snap to print a label for the remnants and immediately add them to the available material or put them in storage.

Another benefit of optimization and scrap management with barcoding is that a well designed system requires no manual data input. If you use an order entry software or cut list software to generate your parts list you will never have to type a thing into a spreadsheet. The optimizer handles all of the information imported from the order entry and can put any amount of that information onto a label.

Recovering the remnants can be done with a barcode scanner, which immediately returns all of the information about a remnant as soon as the label is scanned.

So how does this improve the efficiency of a shop? A lot of companies spend a lot of time measuring and logging remnants that they will never use again because it is such a hassle to dig them up. If you have software that is taking care of the measurement beforehand and printing labels to help you track down the remnants when you need them, you are going to cut a lot of fat from your labor costs.

Using material in the most efficient way possible is a goal for any shop trying to make a profit. Given the lengths that most shops go through to squeeze the most out of their raw material, it is strange that so many have ignored optimization. It seems contradictory that many see optimizing as a waste of money when they have thousands of remnants sitting around that can be worth hundreds of dollars each.

In reality inventory management and optimization are very closely related. Remnants are like any other raw material; the difference is that there is no immediate use for the remnant when you do the cutting.

All of this makes sense when you consider that the remnant is a natural result of the parts you have to cut and the raw material sizes you have available, the core data that the optimizer uses to make its calculations. It figures out what material sizes will be left over before hand and a simple calculation bridges the gap between waste piece and re-usable part. When you consider this, combining the two systems into one seems like a logical step and ultimately may prove to be the surest cure for remnant headaches.

Written by David E. Talbot, Product Manager for Eurosoft, Inc., developers of the ARDIS Cutting Optimizer, a sheet optimization program that produces high yield combined with an enormous variety of customization options such as reusable scrap. Eurosoft is actively involved in integrating their Ardis software with existing order entry and saw equipment. Their activities extend from the individual plastic distributor with a single user license to large network systems with integration to company wide inventory control and order entry systems. They offer training and a comprehensive technical support service.

For more information, contact Eurosoft, Inc., 1628 Old Apex Road, Cary, NC 27513, 919-468-3003, Fax: 919-468-6374, E-mail:, Web:

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