The Importance of Proper Maintenance for Live Tooling

A well-maintained machine delivers the best product to your customers. It also keeps workers safe by reducing the risk of damaged or faulty equipment injury.

The most basic maintenance starts with washing equipment daily or weekly to remove grime and rust that could lead to long-term damage. It also includes regularly cleaning certain parts to prevent lubricant buildup in damage-prone areas.

Preventive Maintenance

Humans have learned that equipment functions better and lasts longer when it’s maintained regularly. This type of maintenance, preventive maintenance, is much cheaper than fixing a broken machine after it breaks down (reactive maintenance).

Preventive maintenance can take several forms. For example, it can be calendar-based, which allows machines to run until they break down, or usage-based, which considers run time. It can also be condition-based, in which maintenance is performed when a visual or measured deterioration occurs.

Preventive maintenance aims to catch issues that might wreak havoc on production. For instance, if the motor in your live tool is running too hot, you’ll want to stop working and allow it to cool down. This will help you avoid damaging the motor and burning out parts.

Another critical aspect of preventive maintenance is to log procedures systematically. Whenever an operation is performed, it should be logged with the date, a description of the care, and the signature, certification number, and type of certification held by the person who did the work. This will ensure clarity about the work performed, and it will be easier to track and verify.

In addition to logging, one way to improve preventive maintenance is to ensure all team members are trained to spot the most common problems. This can be done by introducing them to look for signs of deterioration in certain parts, such as carbon brushes, power cords, and switch assemblies.

Routine Maintenance

One of the main goals of preventive maintenance is catching impending issues before they cause costly downtime. However, a machine shop’s maintenance schedule must consider many factors — from application variables like workpiece materials and cycle times to machine tool head intricacies, like seals and bearings.

This is why it’s essential to create a detailed five-point inspection routine. While it may seem tedious to devote a few minutes to inspecting the entire live tool unit, like the live tooling lathe, shops implementing this practice will reap the benefits of consistent and comprehensive maintenance.

In addition, a detailed maintenance log will help a shop keep track of the unit’s performance over time. This information can be utilized to adjust the cutting parameters in the part program, aiming to minimize heat and vibration while optimizing the overall performance of the unit. It can also help a shop determine when to service or replace the unit.

Ultimately, a well-established maintenance regimen will reduce downtime and improve the overall efficiency of a shop’s manufacturing operations. And it will also extend the life of precision measuring tools, allowing them to serve their intended purposes for a more extended period. In turn, this helps boost operational profitability and bolsters company morale.


All electrical line and equipment work should be conducted with the power off. In reality, however, this is only sometimes possible. Workers use tools such as hot sticks, sectionalized kits, insulating gloves, and discharge hooks to provide safety between themselves and energized equipment. These tools are meant to keep workers at a minimum approach distance from the energized line or equipment while providing them with sufficient flexibility to perform their job.

These tools are designed to be used multiple times and will experience some wear over time. This is why a solid maintenance program should include routine sharpening and a process to inspect performance and condition. In addition, a reliable schedule will have spare parts in place to facilitate rapid repair and prevent downtime.

A program that only addresses issues when they occur is reactive and not proactive. It is expensive and often forces shops to delay scheduled maintenance tasks while focusing on damage control. A more effective strategy is implementing a program that monitors equipment and lets you know when something is close to breaking down. This type of condition-based maintenance is called predictive maintenance, and it can save money and improve quality by reducing unplanned downtime. It also helps reduce energy costs by ensuring that machines operate efficiently.

Spare Parts

A vital component of a well-defined maintenance plan is keeping critical spare parts on hand. Having these items readily available prevents rescheduling essential maintenance tasks and minimizes production downtime when necessary parts or accessories need to be replaced.

A good starting point for determining the appropriate level of spares is a review of your machine usage history. Computerized maintenance management systems can help maintain accurate tracking of this information, enabling planners to accurately determine the expected level of service for different components and the required minimum stock levels.

As one of the most custom-designed items for a live tool system, tooling requires special care and handling. It is also one of the most expensive items to replace – and waiting to order new tooling until it’s needed can negatively impact assembly schedules.


In conclusion, proper care and maintenance will extend the life of your live tools – saving you money on replacement costs, repairs, and downtime. In addition, it will ensure that your precision measuring instruments perform to the best of their ability for a more extended period, improving your product’s quality.

As the two examples illustrate, proper maintenance can significantly improve equipment efficiency. This, in turn, translates into enhanced production accuracy and boosted bottom-line profitability.