Saving the bottom line with tool reclamation

Northern Tooling Reclamation Australasia director Andrew Rogers and national sales manager Richard Holden speak to Manufacturers’ Monthly about helping Australian manufacturers save cost by using their machine tools.


Northern Tooling Reclamation (NTR) Australasia is now offering the Australian manufacturing industry a new service to repair damaged cutting tools. Tool reclamation is a repair and refurbish solution to help manufacturers prolong tooling life.

Broken machine tools tend to become a bin item in Australia, but the company is changing that by recycling the tools to help manufacturers save on cost.

“Generally, what would happen in Australia now is that the broken tools would get thrown away,” director of NTR Australasia, Andrew Rogers said. “It’s up to the customer to buy a new tool.”

Sales manager Richard Holden said the process to reclaim tools is a specialised practice.

“NTR would strip down the broken pockets, weld up each pocket, and then go through a procedure to rebuild each pocket,” he said. “They use manual CNC machines to do that, to rebuild the pocket, and go through stringent testing and measuring.

“All the tools are sent back with a certificate of conformance, so it is like they are back to specifications from a new cutter.”

The service offers manufacturers 50 per cent cost savings, and repairs generally take four to six weeks.

Rogers said although there is often initial scepticism about how the service works, once proven, customers are happy with the result.

“Because tool reclamation such a fiddly process, nobody’s ever really focused on it,” he said.

The replacement cost is often built into the cost of a job for the customer, and a new cutter comes at a higher cost compared to recycling an old one. “That cost saving can be passed straight onto the bottom line for the manufacturer,” Rogers said.

NTR Australasia has gradually built a customer base through machining tools for clients who make rail products, as well as other kinds of manufacturing.

“Machine cutting tools are expensive to make because of the profile of the cutter. The inserts that are used, once damaged, can cost thousands, up to tens of thousands of dollars,” he said. “We can repair them for a fraction of the price.”

Rogers said the company has been operating more efficiently while working remotely since the COVID-19 lockdown began, by communicating with customers remotely, online.

“A customer will contact us saying they have a damaged cutter, tell us the details, and then we’ll get them to send the cutter to us so we can visually inspect it, and then we give them the quote on repair. Then we repair and return.”

NTR also repair and service all driven tools on the market by providing a full strip down replacement of worn gears and shafts, and re-grease. Runout is also checked and documented before the tool is returned to the customer in near new condition.

While most cutting tool manufactures now require minimum order quantities for “special tool” manufacture, NTR offer short run or one-off options.”This is a potential huge cost saving on carrying of unwanted or excessive high value inventory. Manufacture can be made from an existing drawing if it’s available, or the existing tool can be 3D-scanned and reverse engineered,” Holden said.

“Customers can even request what manufactures insert is to be used in the new cutters. So swapping manufactures inserts has never been easier.”

 About NTR Precision Tooling Engineers

Founded in the UK in 1976, NTR Precision Tooling Engineers has repaired tools with the help of advancements in materials and CNC machining.

The reclamation process uses glass beads to polish customers’ tools. The polishing not only ensures seating accuracy, it also reduces the issue of blocked threads – a common problem when tools have been spray painted black.

By only polishing repaired tools, it prevents unnecessary coolant contamination, further prolonging the life of cutting fluid – another problem associated with black spray-painted tools.

NTR’s measuring equipment is accredited under ISO 9001: 2008 to deliver accuracy. All repaired tools come with its own inspection certificate detailing the maximum radial and axial runout, ensuring the tools are within the manufacturer’s specific tolerance.

The business has also invested in a Royal twin scope tool pre-setter for final inspection in addition to six inline Trimos for robust inspection procedures. Internal and external calibration of instruments take place regularly.

Find out more about NTR Australasia at www.ntraustralasia.com.au