The August edition of Canadian Industrial Machinery Magazine features an insightful piece by Sue Roberts that will teach you how to make the most from remnants. In the article, Ms. Roberts goes into detail about how a well-managed remnant program, coupled with CNC nesting software, can turn remnants from problem to profit.

We summarized some of the key points to the article.

CNC material remnants

Increased material holding costs and an increased focus on just-in-time manufacturing often means irregular scrap material let over.

Dealing with these remnants carries its own carrying costs and the often-times awkward shapes can be cumbersome to store. If left unchecked these remnants can quickly become forgotten material, under-utilized, costing the company money.

A stringent management plan and advanced nesting software can shift stacks of remnants from the cost side of the ledger to the profit side.

“The Most Important Problem to Address in a Remnant Management Plan is how to Handle Scrap Parts.”

Derek Weston from Hypertherm says “Today it is more and more commonplace for nesting software to manage material inventory, either directly or indirectly” Software can track the remnants and then attribute them back into inventory with its own electronic record for nesting as part of another job. The nesting software can even be integrated into a business’ ERP system for full inventory visibility. This allows both the sales and productions team to know what material they have on hand at all times.

Managing a System

make-the-most-from-remnants-1Although systems can integrate, inventory management of remnants is only as useful as the reliability of the information put into the systems.

Pierre Slabber, owner of Sectura- SOFT, said, “It is difficult to keep the virtual and reality in sync. You have to have a well-documented remnant management plan in place that can be enforced by management and followed by programmers and machine operators. Everyone needs to understand the importance of the program.”

Pierre Slabber also mentions that marketing the remnants and storing them in racks will aid operators to retrieve the appropriate remnants efficiently.

“The most important problem to address in a remnant management plan is how to handle scrap parts. This is the single biggest problem I’ve seen,” said Slabber. “If an operator scraps a part and cuts another out of a remnant, that remnant and the database are not in sync. When this happens, the programmers have to run out to the shop and measure a remnant before they can schedule its use. To save their own time, the programmers are going to schedule full sheets. There has to be a safe environment for reporting scrapped parts that can be processed with the next program or they have to be able to update the remnant on the reports sent back to the programmers.”

Defining Remnant

To decide whether you should keep a remnant or not, you should make rough calculations on the cost to store and re-use the material. You need to compare the cost with the potential savings in selling it to scrappers. The type of material, size, thickness, and shape all play a part in the calculations. Having CNC software that can help make profitability decisions is important.

Material handling costs are an integral part of the evaluation. Loading and unloading a remnant costs the same as handling a full sheet or plate. The same setup time gives you less cutting time. Still, efficient, knowledgeable, and flexible management of remnants can increase material yield and add to the bottom line.




Getting the Most Parts

Once the remnant management system is established, identifying and nesting on remnants can increase material utilization and save a company money.

A part list can be manually selected within the nesting software or a bill of materials may be imported. The software is then often directed to nest the parts in the most efficient manner possible on any available inventory.


Advanced remnant software performs trials on available materials to find the most efficient material use before committing parts to a nest. Using various algorithms, the software can virtually do try trial runs to determine the best nest and use of materials. The nesting software can also do partial orders or combinations of full sheets and remnants, all to maximize productivity.

Choosing Straight or Profiled Edges

make-the-most-from-remnants-3The shape of a remnant is determined either by the nest, or by some programmer interference. Often a programmer will crop the remnants out from the original material. They do this so that the shape is somewhat more regular. If left uncropped, remnants can have fingers or sharp material sticking out. This is both dangerous and cumbersome.

Remnant Software and Attitudesmake-the-most-from-remnants-0

Automatic remnant management and ERP integration is no small  feat, and requires total company buy-in. “Managing a remnant system and using electronic inventory is an organization shift, a change in work flow, processes, and procedures. It takes buy-in and commitment from the nesting operator, the production manager, the machine operators— any individuals associated with handling the material from storage to machine,” says Weston.

Check out our nesting software partners at SigmaNEST for more remnant management strategies.

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