Tool & Die Storage Done Right
Getting tooling and die into more effective use and storage
We all know what happens to tooling and die when it’s stored haphazardly. Bumped and scratched, a chip here, a nick there, and suddenly your machining just isn’t what it used to be. The quality has slipped, maybe more products are being returned, there’s an increase in customer complaints. It’s too valuable and too expensive to risk. What are your options?
The peril of storing it on the floor
Often tooling and die can be found tucked away on the floor in some corner. Who knows how many times it’s been slid across concrete or knocked around? Even on benches or shelves, you’re still bumping and bruising it just to get it to a position where you can lift or remove it. There’s got to be a better way.
Racks and storage options
Depending on the size and weight of your tooling and die pieces, you can select different rack styles for better, more efficient handling of tool & die. For smaller, lighter pieces, select a sheet metal / tool & die storage system that will save you floor space and allow you to fully extend the shelves. With capacities starting at 1,000 lbs. per shelf, you can even move some pretty hefty stuff using a hoist or manipulator, which is actually a more ergonomic method for anything over about 50 pounds.
Also, you can consider selective die storage rack if you aren’t frequently accessing the dies and heavy components. This is basically heavy duty pallet rack. The load is palletized and then removed by forklift for delivery to machine operators. A workstation crane or other handling option would be required to off load the dies when they arrive at their destination if they are too heavy for manual handling.
Heavy Duty options
For larger, more beefy tool & die, opt for a more heavily built rack that can handle loads up to 3,000 lbs. per shelf. This kind of system is intended for use with an overhead lift mechanism because of the more massive pieces you’ll be storing. The shelves also fully extend, but will have locks to prevent multiple shelves from being pulled out, possibly overbalancing the entire unit. Shelves can be positioned on 2″ centers so the system can be arranged to fit large and smaller pieces on one unit. Adders are also available if you want to have a central tooling location. Otherwise, place the racks near the machines the tooling and die are used on. This saves time and steps when changing tools.
Improves plant safety and ergonomics
Tool and die rack are made to enhance safety in the use of tooling. Moving very heavy pieces is hard on a worker’s body – usually leading to back and spine troubles from twisting, stretching and bending under extreme loads. Putting tool & die rack near its usage point and adding an overhead hoist or manipulator makes handling tooling not only more ergonomic, but physically safer, helping to prevent injuries from accidental drops or crushing.
At the very minimum
If you do nothing else, get all tooling and die off the floor. If you think about it, the smoothest, most important faces on those die are likely the ones sitting flat against that concrete. Let alone the ergonomic difficulties of lifting from a low position. Take care of tooling and die so they’ll take care of your business and keep the quality shining through
Scott Stone Cisco-Eagle's Director of Marketing. He has over 25 years of experience in the industry.