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4 ways to save on tooling AND maximize performance

Experts estimate that tooling amounts to a relatively small percentage of a shop’s overall operating costs—between 3 to 6 percent. But the hidden costs cut much deeper. From man hours spent selecting, ordering, changing and troubleshooting tooling to scrapped parts and wasted time caused by poor finished part quality, tooling inefficiencies may be the root cause of larger profitability issues. In short, reducing tooling spend alone won’t have a mean ingful impact on the bottom line. A more holistic approach, however—with a focus on value, time savings and improved performance—can bring significant gains. Read on for four steps to maximize your tooling performance and processes.


1. Measure your tooling supplier(s)

Whether you’re a new shop tooling up for the first time or a veteran with several tooling manufacturers in your roster, it’s never a bad idea to reassess the supplier landscape. Big-name tooling companies aren’t for everyone—and you may find more convenience, value and support by exploring other partners. As B2B and industrial e-commerce become more commonplace, shops have more options than ever before. But buyer beware: Not all online tooling suppliers are created equal, and initial conveniences and low prices can end up costing much more in the long run. When it comes to assessing new tooling suppliers, make sure they check the following boxes:

  • Reputation. All tooling suppliers should have a track record of customer satisfaction. Look for customer testimonials and case studies, industry experience, and other proof points to support claims of quality and performance.
  • Support. Conducting business online has become the norm. But that doesn’t mean the service should suffer. Talk to potential tooling suppliers to ensure they have the support to help when necessary. Keep in mind that large teams/service networks don’t always make for a better experience; small shops don’t always get adequate support from large tooling suppliers who may focus only on the largest shops.
  • Inventory. Order turnaround time is crucial for shops who want to achieve a just-in-time approach to tool inventory—or meet an urgent need without incurring costly delays/downtime. Does your chosen supplier keep all of the necessary inventory in stock and ready for fast shipping? Are they shipping domestically or from overseas? Asking these questions upfront will prevent future headaches.

2. Beware of bargain-basement prices

As mentioned, tooling prices alone are not the silver bullet for cost reduction. In fact, selecting the cheapest tooling supplier can cost more in the long run. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be price-conscious; rather, focus on big-picture value. Bargain-tooling suppliers may offer cheaper prices, but be lacking when it comes to tool life, performance and consistency. Larger, well-known tooling suppliers, on the other hand, may carry a significant brand-name premium. Oftentimes, there is an ideal value in the middle of the price spectrum (assuming the supplier in question ticks the boxes in step 1!).

3. Test your options

Speaking of cost, there’s only one way to truly assess the value of a given tooling supplier: to test them out on the shop floor! Look for a supplier that offers flexibility in this area—at the least low minimum order quantities and; at best, free trials. The latter option is not only helpful to assess overall quality and performance; it can be a good long-term way to identify the best inserts for new jobs and applications. Finding the right insert for the job upfront will reduce cycle times, scrapped parts and overall labor costs.

4. Streamline ordering and inventory management

Labor is the biggest cost for most businesses—and metalworking is no exception. Save time (and money) by streamlining your tooling procurement and management:

  • Keep selection and ordering simple. If shopping with your tooling supplier feels overwhelming, it might pay to find a supplier with a more streamlined catalog. Time spent sifting through endless lists of tools and comparing a large number of options can quickly add up, especially if you’re delegating the task to less experienced employees. Procurement should be easy as well—ideally with online ordering options.
  • Achieve just-in-time tooling inventory. Any shop can accrue tens of thousands of dollars in tooling inventory that just sits on the shop floor awaiting use. But the alternative—waiting weeks for crucial tooling orders to arrive—isn’t an option. That’s why it’s a good idea to work with a supplier who keeps the majority of their tooling catalog in stock and ready for lightning-fast fulfillment and shipping.
  • Get expert application support. The right technical support can go a long way in reducing the time spent selecting the right tooling for the job. Is your supplier up to snuff?


When it comes to maximizing your tooling investment, it pays to find the right partner. TechMet offers a new and better option. Backed by 25 years of experience as the number-one supplier of carbide rod in North America, they have the experience and focus on quality to deliver superior value. TechMet carries over 1,000 of the most commonly used indexable tool types—including turning inserts, Notch-style grooving and threading inserts, laydown threading inserts and more. All in stock and ready for same-day shipping. Best of all—they offer free trials so you can shop with confidence. Learn more about TechMet’s indexable cutting tool offering here.