Programmable tools can greatly increase your shop efficiency under the right circumstances, but programmability often adds to the expense of a piece of equipment. When it comes to beveling, how can you determine whether you should order a beveling tool with programming capability?

As a general rule, you should do a cost-benefit analysis based on the workload in your shop. Consider these factors as you make your decision.

Bevel Complexity – Do your jobs require difficult tasks such as non-standard beveling angles or deep chamfering patterns? Are the workpieces large or heavy enough that it may be impossible to meet specifications without the precision of a large programmable unit? Having to constantly reposition pieces or restart jobs to complete difficult tasks may mean inconsistency from one batch of beveled parts to the next—potentially leading to unhappy customers.

Job Sizes – Do you have a high enough volume of complex beveling or chamfering jobs that programmability will save you significant labor costs with reduced set-up time? It’s nice to have programmability to handle a single simple adjustment, but unless you have really tight quality requirements or very high value-added components to bevel, a programmable unit may not be cost-effective.

Future Plans – If you only have a few jobs of intermediate volume that would benefit from programmability, is a programmable unit worth the investment? If so, could you expand your business and enter new job markets if programmability were present? A larger programmable unit may make sense as part of an expansion strategy.

Speed – Can your most challenging beveling and chamfering jobs be done without a programmable unit, but at a pace that is unsustainable? Would a programmable unit enable you to process more workpieces and expand your throughput?

Safety – Would programming capability allow your employees to process material more safely by reducing the potential for accidents? Try to quantify this as a potential cost-savings against the medical costs associated with the most likely type of accident. Don’t forget about potential scrutiny from OSHA.

All of these factors are on the benefit side. Next, you need to consider the costs. Acquire quotes for several pieces of equipment for reference, and total up all of the costs to calculate a payback period. Don’t forget to consider delivery, installation, and training costs. Set a time limit for the payback period and run an optimistic, most likely, and pessimistic scenario for the benefits.

If you decide that a programmable beveling tool works for you, the next step is to determine which model to purchase. Fortunately, you’ve already done almost all the preparation work and planning that you need to make your decision. You’ve already assessed your workload and developed a strategy to either handle your existing work more smoothly or expand the capabilities of your business. All you have to do is to choose the correct piece of equipment to match your plans.

GERIMA beveling tools are available from Saar-Hartmetall and are capable of up to 200 separate programs and feature a “Teach-In” option as well as manual programming capability. If you would like to learn more about the capabilities of programmable GERIMA beveling tools and the possibilities of payback on your programmable tool investment, contact Saar-Hartmetall today at (859) 331-8770 or by e-mail at We would be happy to help you select the right equipment for your needs and make your shop as efficient as possible.