Are options worth the money?

Sliding table saw test

Even when you know you need a specific type of machine to either replace current production machinery or to expand or enhance your operation, the buying process becomes frustrating and confusing as options, additions and improvements come into the buying equation.
Buyers are not alone in this frustration. The sellers, too, find it difficult to present their factual material to buyers made over-cautious from hearing too many false claims and unrealized promises.

In an attempt to resolve one set of buying issues from a more objective point of view, the Fachhochschle University of Applied Sciences, Department of Production and Business, in Lemgo, Germany decided to take on the question of whether buyers should purchase the advanced options available on contemporary sliding table saws as part of a student project. The project team for the study was composed of Markus Lignau, Sebastian Diestelmann, Stephan Erkens, Marc Fliege, Karoline Golabeck, David Sauermann and Florian Voß.

Once empanelled, the team set its objective in the study to focus on differences between various sliding table saws with different configurations or with different features as related to two criteria: time savings and cost savings.

To obtain comparable data, the team decided it was necessary to calculate the set-up and operating times for such common machining operations as cross-cutting, ripping, mitre cutting and grooving. A test piece was designed for this purpose and was produced using various options and configurations of a well-known, high-end sliding table saw.

The line-up

The saw configurations included five sliding table saws:

  1. The saw with manual fences and analog scales.
  2. The saw with manual fences, but a digital display on the rip fence.
  3. The saw with a motorized rip fence and an eye-level control panel.
  4. The saw with a motorized rip fence, a digital display on the cross-cut fence and eye-level, on-screen user guidance, and
  5. The saw with all fences motorized and eye-level, on-screen user guidance.

All set-up times, re-tooling times and operating times were calculated using the REFA standard. REFA is the German-based Association for Work Design/Work Structure, Industrial Organization and Corporate Development. It is a private, non-profit organization that provides training, education, consulting and coaching in all sectors of production, administration and the service industry, largely in Europe.

The test piece was a computer cabinet with a drawer. All joints of the cabinet were mitred and glued from 19 mm (¾-inch) MDF. The back panel was grooved-in 8 mm (.31-inch) MDF. Grooves were added for drawer slides. The drawer front was 19 mm (3/4-inch) particleboard, and the front edge of the cabinet was beveled in 45 degrees.



This study showed conclusively in the minds of the team that there is a direct correlation between machine features and cost-effectiveness.

This conclusion was reached because when comparing the base model with all added features there was measurable and substantial improvement in terms of both cost and time savings.
The test piece was a computer cabinet with a drawer that required cross-cutting, ripping, mitre cutting and grooving.

The chart shows each improved model of the same brand of table saw. Model 1 is the base model, and the percentage increase of each improved model is represented as a percentage of improvement over Model 1 as measured by the REFA Standard. In this case, the top model out-performed the base model by 20 percent in cost savings and 51 percent in time savings.


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