Purchasing tools after hours
While others are ready to put their feet up, many of Ceratizit’s customers are busy ordering their tools for the following day. Anything ordered by 7:00 pm is guaranteed to be there the following day – anywhere in Europe.
Ceratizit’s logistics center in Kempten is one of the largest marketplaces in Europe for carbide products. Each and every day, many tonnes of carbide tools and blanks and thousands of indexable cutting inserts go onto the shelves. And every day, thousands of packages leave the warehouse. They are headed for customers from the automotive or mechanical engineering industries or distributors throughout Europe and the rest of the world. 99 percent of the packages that leave the logistics center by 8:00 pm reach their destination in Europe on the following day. Deliveries to metropolitan regions outside Europe generally reach their destination within two days. And it is rare that a customer has to wait for more than three days, no matter whether they are in Mexico or Australia.
For Ceratizit, the decisive issue is when the order is received. Let us take the example of a German-based precision toolmaker who orders a milling cutter. The order is sent electronically to the fully automated picking system. The system knows that the milling cutter ordered by ’Mayer Präzisionstechnik’ is in the tray with the sequence number 12.345, one of many thousand trays. And the system also knows where this tray is currently located in the 50 meter long, ten meter high shelf assembly. A shuttle fetches the tray from the shelf and places it on a conveyor, which takes it to the picking station. Here, an LED lamp lights up the box holding the required milling cutter. The employee at the station removes the milling cutter and releases the tray which is quickly transported back into the stock picking system. The employee in the dispatch area carefully packs the milling cutter, puts in the delivery note and attaches the address label – the order is now ready for shipment. Less than three minutes have passed since the order was placed. If the order is received any time up to shortly before 7:00 pm Central European Time, the package is guaranteed to leave the warehouse the same day.
In the Kempten logistics center, this operation is repeated time and time again. And it doesn’t matter whether the order comes from a Polish sales representative ordering 10 indexable cutting inserts for a test for their customer or from a toolmaker in Turkey who needs carbide blanks for an important customer order. Ceratizit stocks well over 60,000 articles in its logistics center. From indexable cutting inserts weighing just a few grams for lathing processes or solid carbide milling cutters and drills right up to six-kilogram extra-long rod blanks. Furthermore, there is no minimum order quantity and Ceratizit will take care of the necessary customs clearance.
Solid carbide tool configurator
It takes just a few clicks of the mouse for a French automotive supplier to configure their custom solid carbide tool in the Ceratizit Web shop (www.e-techstore.com). And as often as not this will be done outside normal working hours. In this small business, the customer is the owner, head of production and purchaser all in one. During the day, he is on the shop floor helping his staff. As soon as they have knocked off, he orders the tools for the next few days. To do this, he enters the necessary dimensions on the basis of Ceratizit’s standard range of solid carbide milling cutters and drills. At the touch of a button, the system checks whether the specifications he has made can be implemented. He can order immediately or request a quotation. Within a matter of a few minutes, he receives an email with an order confirmation or a quotation including a delivery time and a drawing and CAD data to accompany the quotation. The configurator can also be used on tablets and smartphones. It is available to all European customers. Customers can obtain login credentials from their local Ceratizit sales office.
Regrinding service and recycling
But Ceratizit’s service is by no means over when the French customer has received their custom solid carbide tool by post. No matter how good the tool may be, sooner or later even this milling cutter will wear out.
Then it needs to be sharpened and, if necessary, re-coated (restoration service). For this purpose, Ceratizit provides its customers with special containers that are collected on request and returned with the reworked tools after 15 working days at most. Ceratizit re-conditions the solid carbide tools in such a way that virtually 100 percent of the service life and cutting performance of a new tool are restored. The customer benefits from a high level of process reliability and significantly lower production and tooling costs and has to keep fewer tools in stock, thanks to the rapid service. The only condition is that the diameter and length of the tool are still within tolerance and that the ultimate wear threshold has not been exceeded. But even in this case, Ceratizit has a solution and will take back the carbide tool for its scrap value when it has reached the end of its service life. And so the cycle starts again from the beginning. The carbide is expertly conditioned for reuse in new tools. And these will then find their way onto the shelves of Ceratizit’s logistics center, where they will wait for a customer to place another urgent order shortly before 7:00 pm…