Correct tooling effectively managed and serviced can often be the key to greater efficiency, productivity, streamlining of manufacturing, and profitability. However, all too often tooling is simply taken for granted and purchased on price, with little consideration for the whole life cost. 

Market leader in luxury British bespoke furniture Charles Yorke shares their tooling experience and issues, and some of the solutions they have developed with tooling supplier partner Leitz Tooling.

Operating from a modern 5000 sq m facility, Charles Yorke has a range of high-tech woodworking equipment. They combine state-of-the-art technology with traditional cabinetmaking techniques and quality materials to create individually designed and handcrafted furniture. The Kirkby-based business has been producing bespoke kitchens, bathrooms, occasional rooms and furniture since 1999, and over the last 20 years has enjoyed sustained growth internationally.

“Machine tooling is so important to get right. Low purchase prices or bargain service-only contracts might seem like a good idea, but unless you’re paying attention, businesses can end up paying thousands of pounds more than they expected. They can get through far too much tooling when it’s not fit for purpose, unnecessarily waste a lot of valuable material and spend a fortune in down-time,” said Charles Yorke production manager Aaron Benford. “Around three years ago, before we started working with Leitz, we had tooling problems every week. The supplier had limited knowledge and a slow response time, and then sometimes without the answers we needed. 

“We were paying around £50,000 a year on tooling and having daily tooling headaches. Since we switched to Leitz for everything, our annual tooling bill is 40% less and, most importantly, we have no more tooling headaches at all.

“We happily pay more for tools because we don’t need to buy as often. They last much longer, and we have had a massive reduction in waste. The operators get the work done first time every time which is essential. The shared knowledge at Leitz is brilliant. They have access to relevant experience in every process and will get the right solution back to us fast.”

The biggest saving Charles Yorke has seen is in slashing the dead cost of down time. Aaron continued: “All our tooling is now ‘quick release’ - straight off, straight on - sorted. The bespoke nature of our work means that our machines aren’t churning out great volumes of the same product. This means that the tool management provided by Leitz is essential to ensure that the tools are serviced at the right time, ensuring that our high-quality materials are never compromised, and that we’re not wasting time. 

“Servicing more frequently means that you take less off the tool, maintain the cut quality, and get even more sharpens out of that tool. And that is a lot more efficient than running the tool down until we start wasting valuable product.”

Brian Maddox, national sales manager for Leitz Tooling said: “Tool management is vital, and part of that service is dedicated to helping companies like Charles Yorke plan their production. The team at Charles Yorke also appreciate the need for operator knowledge. The training that we offer customer operators means that when they understand the tooling, they understand the impact on the processes much better. We hold ourselves accountable to our customers and provide as much support as is needed. It is so important for companies to know exactly what their manufacturing is costing them per product. Being a manufacturing partner, we bring our expertise to entire production lines of every scale, and our customers get the benefit.”

Charles Yorke has also invested in Leitz Tooling’s VariPlan Profix system. The unique features of Leitz VariPlan Profix cutting technology include constant profile and diameter after resharpening as the profile knife thickness decreases. 

The clamping face stop maintains the knife’s precise radial position, and the patented knife seating guides the resharpened knife precisely into the same position in the tool body. 

Aaron said: “Leitz’s VariPlan Profix system is saving us about £50,000 a year in labour – hours and downtime – for an investment of less than half of that saving. What we were doing with three separate operations, we are now doing in one pass. 

“We’ve not had a tooling ‘emergency’ since working with Leitz. When we have a new requirement, we talk to Leitz early to make sure we’re planning things the most efficient way. Hard conversations between manufacturing and tooling suppliers need to be had. With Leitz, those conversations are open and easy.”

Leitz is focused on increased productivity, reduced downtime, noise, scrap, and improved quality and safety in tested tooling design. All tooling from Leitz is manufactured and safety tested to BS EN847 standards helping to ensure the welfare of customer employees.


Restarting production? Reflect on your business says Leitz

The uncertainty of recent times has given us all cause to pause our usual personal lives and “normal” business routines and practice. 

The grim reality of COVID-19 has meant that every single business has experienced disruption, and each has its own concerns about the future. How will demand be affected? When will it increase? When will we get back to normal?

At Leitz Tooling, we continue to focus on what we can do. For us, that means continuing to safely and in line with current Government advice, provide new tools and our exceptional tool servicing to any company that needs it across the UK. 

We also recognise that as our customers manufacturing workshops and production lines gradually increase operational capacity, there will not be a swift return to “business as usual”. 

Listening to our customers - be they small joinery workshops, kitchen and bathroom cabinetmakers, timber window or GRP door manufacturers or international furniture production companies - their focus is also on what they can do. This is not simply restarting their business, but reflection; consideration on costs, restructuring for efficiency, and actually dealing with those manufacturing problems and production issues that there never quite seems time to get around to.

Standing still is not an option. These cultural and operational changes are opportunities and essential to maintaining your competitive advantage. 

As the business of doing business is moving online, so are our free tooling consultations. We will work with you via remote meeting app to review your tool and tool servicing costs, productivity, downtime, issues or other questions you might have, and work together on possible scalable solutions that are both fit for purpose, fully supported and will suit your business. 

So, if you already know your issues, great. If you think you might have a problem but don’t know where to start: fantastic!

If your manufacturing set up and tooling is running smoothly, efficiently, productively and cost-effectively: give us a call anyway – we can learn from you!