Keeping a Running Count

About: Old school tool & die maker who likes to tinker.

I own a small job shop machine shop and I get interesting requests sometimes. The wiget on the right is what the customer brought me a box of. The one on the left is what they wanted it to look like. I quoted them a price per piece, they agreed, and work proceeded.

Now I named this "Keeping a running count" because the customer brought me what is known in the trade as a WBF, or Whole Box Full, of parts. Nobody knows how many at this point, but since I'm charging them by the part, I need a way to count them.

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Step 1: Drilling the Holes.

Ok, I skipped an important step, "Building the fixture", but that's not what we're doing here. As you can see, a lot of chips are generated. The parts are laser cut full hard stainless steel and were really tough to drill.

Step 2: Next Step, Deburring the Holes

Drilling leaves a nasty burr on the parts that must be removed. The same fixture with the drill guide removed worked just fine.

This is the last time I will be touching these parts one at a time, so it's on this operation that I want to start counting.

Step 3: Keeping Count While You Work, Aka a Running Count.

Let's say you have a project where you need 115 nail heads. You have a box full of nails with many more than 115 nails in it. You can count out 115 nails and start cutting, but wait, sometimes you mess one up and you have to go back to the box for another one. A running count means you are only counting the good nail heads as they are finished.

So as I finish a part, it goes to the upper right corner of the table. I do this until there are 9 pieces in the upper right corner. When I finish the tenth piece, it goes in the lower right corner and the nine in the upper right go into the tub.

I continue this process until there are nine pieces in the lower right corner. The tenth one goes in the lower left corner and now I have done 100 pieces!

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    4 Discussions


    3 years ago

    What about getting a digital scale and just zero out the scale with the tub - fill it with completed parts and weigh them. Divide the total weight by the weight of 1 single item.

    The parts look very consistent and should have the same weight?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    That would work if you have a scale you don't care much about. The shop is a harsh environment for delicate equipment, chips get into everything. Plus you have to have a place to plug it in. I have actually done it that way with other parts, I have a small counting scale, but only when it can be done in a cleaner area.

    jdmorseDIY Hacks and How Tos

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! In the job shop world where time is money, taking the time to count parts is bad. Never the less, you are required to know how many parts you have. I think of this as a survival mechanism that saved me from the wrath of a number of foremen.