Ineffective tool management tends to drive up costs and reduce efficiency at even the most successful machine shops. At J&R Machine, we demand continuous improvement and are always looking for opportunities to develop competitive differentiation and provide new value to customers. So to more effectively track tool and supply usage and control inventory, we’ve recently installed SupplyPro and Fastenal automated point-of-use dispensing technologies.

The machines dispense items like a two helix-style vending machine, and the tools and other materials are tracked from the time they are requested by J&R Machine employees to the time they are returned.  Supplies such as safety glasses, ear plugs, tape, gloves and batteries are dispensed through the Fastenal system, and shop tooling such as carbide inserts, drills, taps, and band saw blades are dispensed through the SupplyPro system.

So, how do these systems ultimately benefit J&R Machine and our customers?

Increased Productivity

The SupplyPro and Fastenal vending systems help J&R Machine optimize inventory through a web-based system that automates the procurement process, dispensing of supplies and tracking of inventory. For example, when an item is removed from inventory, the system automatically notifies the supplier to initiate replenishment. This has helped J&R Machine eliminate stockouts and reduce downtime.

Improved Accountability

Through the SupplyPro and Fastenal vending systems, employees are also kept accountable for the tools they use. The time spent using a tool is monitored through the tracking capabilities of the units’ inventory control software, and the software will report what is missing, how long it has been missing, and which employee is accountable. J&R Machine can also put daily limits and user limits on what can be consumed.

Cost Reduction

Additionally, with every transaction, items are allocated to a part number, and J&R Machine receives weekly reports telling where every item was used. For example, if a $10,000,000 company is spending 5.0% in shop tooling and 2.0% in shop supplies, that’s $700,000. With allocating every transaction to a part number, the company can now track where that $700,000 is being used, just as if you would allocate shop tooling and shop supplies to a chart of accounts on an income statement. Without a system like this in place, the 7% is placed in a general category, and it is hard to know what part number is consuming the most amount of cost.

Moving forward, J&R Machine will continue to reduce costs by looking at a part number being produced for a customer and analyzing the amount of supplies and tooling being consumed for that particular part. For instance, if a part number is only 5% of sales and consuming 15% of the tooling budget, the part number, quality of tooling, and price of tooling would be reviewed immediately.

Any skepticism as to whether the SupplyPro and Fastenal vending systems could make a real difference faded after six months of use. In addition to reducing downtime, stats have indicated a 1.1% reduction on sales from tooling and shop supplies. We couldn’t be more pleased with the results we’re seeing and look forward to sharing future cost and productivity benefits with our clients.

About J&R Machine

Founded in 1992, J&R Machine specializes in providing solutions for complex machined parts. The company’s value-added manufacturing, engineering, CNC machining, multi-spindle machining, thread rolling, fabrication and assembly are used by OEM manufacturers, defense contract suppliers and clients in a variety of industries including the medical technology, oil and gas, machinery and equipment, hydraulics, and auto racing sectors.

To learn more about J&R Machine, please visit, or contact J&R Machine at 715-526-5970.