How to Weigh the “True Cost” of GD&T Training Against the Return on Your Investment
Companies grappling with the cost of GD&T training often wonder if it’s really worth it. After seeing a detailed estimate for the cost of training your entire team, your reaction might fall somewhere between sticker shock and fear of missing out, as you contemplate how else you could spend those precious dollars (and hours) instead.
Making an investment in GD&T training is a careful balancing act. Before you move forward, you have to be able to justify the cost and decide:
“Is this the right time for our company to pursue GD&T training?”
“Can we afford to pull our production team off the floor for several days?”
“What are we gaining in return – and is this training really worth the price we’ll pay?”
In this article, we’ll tackle these questions to help you understand:
- The true costs of GD&T Training (not just in terms of dollars, but in terms of your time, which is even more valuable than money)
- Return on investment (ROI) for using GD&T What are some of the scenarios where engineering drawings and GD&T come into play?
- - Accepting Good Parts - The ideal goal for your GD&T Training
- - Rejecting Bad Parts - The inevitable result of any production process - but it should be minimized
- - Rejecting Good Parts - How understanding your engineering drawings avoids these wasteful practices
- - Accepting Bad Parts - The #1 thing any quality department must avoid
Ready to peek behind the curtain of GD&T training to see the real numbers and ROI calculations that no one else is talking about? Let’s dive in.
The True Cost of GD&T Training
By this point, you probably understand the basic price ranges associated with different GD&T training options—which can range from $200-$600 per person for self-paced online training, up to $6,000-$10,000 for live online or on-site training for your whole team. If you’ve already talked with us about your specific training needs, you may even have a more precise estimate of the training cost for your team.
Regardless of which type of GD&T training you pursue, the sticker price could be the least of your concerns when it comes to cost. Consider the “true cost” of GD&T training, which also includes your employees’ time. For many companies, the decision to move forward with GD&T training has less to do with price, and more to do with the value of their team’s time.
Different types of training come with different time requirements, as we explained in the eBook. For example:
- Self-paced online training is more flexible, giving employees access to course materials anytime from any device. However, you need to decide whether you’ll pay employees for those hours by letting them study during work or expect them to train on their own time at home. Either way, there’s definitely a time cost involved.
- Live training, whether online or in-person, adds a steeper coordination cost because it requires pulling multiple people out of work for a few days to participate in training sessions.
We’ll dissect the specific ROI of live training and self-paced online training in future articles, but for now, we just want to emphasize that GD&T training, in general, comes with hidden time costs that a lot of people don’t consider. That’s why it’s so important to look at GD&T training from a big-picture perspective, instead of just basing decisions on price.
What is Your Team’s Time Worth?
To determine the value of an employee’s time, some companies just look at their hourly wage—so if a machinist makes $40/hour, sending them to a two-day training session will cost $640 in lost labor ($40/hour x 16 hours).
But in the engineering world, the value of your team’s time is more complex than that oversimplified math; it’s not about how much employees earn, but how much revenue they generate per hour. On average, machinists and engineers might generate anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars an hour during peak production.
FOR EXAMPLE: Let’s say each member of your production team generates about $250/hour. Pulling one of them off the line for two days of training could cost your company $4,000 in lost production time ($250/hour x 16 hours). If you send 20 people to training, multiply that cost per person, and you’re looking at $80,000 of lost time—on top of the $10,000 cost of training.
While that may seem like a big investment upfront, consider how many more hours those employees waste every week arguing about unclear dimensions or producing bad parts because they don’t fully understand a drawing. Even after a dispute has been resolved, how long does it take your team to cool their tempers and shift their focus back to normal production? Sometimes, this transition phase can steal even more time and productivity than you think.
Instead of asking if you can afford to divert time away from production, determine if you can afford NOT to. We’ve seen companies throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars (and just as many hours):
- Producing unnecessary scrap parts
- Evaluating time-consuming deviations
- Shutting down production lines to settle supplier disputes
- Sacrificing their customer reputation with poor quality and perceived incompetence
These costly mistakes can be prevented with the proper use of Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing on your engineering prints. When you look at it that way, your investment in GD&T training could potentially save you millions. Here’s how.
The ROI of GD&T Training
If your engineering prints already produce perfect parts every time, then you might not see much-added value from additional GD&T training. But if your drawings leave dimensions open to interpretation and confusion, then a dose of GD&T training could ward off costly deviations, disputes, and the dreaded scrap that often results from manufacturing miscommunications.
Investing in GD&T training can prevent these expensive production problems—saving your company from falling into the unnecessary money pits we’ll outline below.
Accepting Good Parts
The end-goal of every production plant is to produce “good” parts that match the prints—or at least come close enough to function properly. By providing the communication tools to bring designers, machinists, engineers, and inspectors onto the same page, GD&T training helps your entire team:
- Design products for easier manufacturability
- Produce good parts more consistently
- Inspect parts properly to ensure functionality
How much is this ideal manufacturing scenario worth to your company? If you improved your production output by just 2% this year, how much value would that add to your business? Depending on the size of your operation, even small improvements can add millions of dollars to your bottom line.
A minute ago, we asked you to consider how much time your employees waste every week arguing about vague tolerances or producing bad parts because of miscommunications. Now, imagine how streamlined your production process could be if everyone clearly understood the specifications on your engineering drawings:
- Design engineers could design more effectively by considering how parts will be manufactured and inspected.
- Machinists would be able to recommend alternative tolerancing to reduce costs while maintaining function.
- The quality department would be able to aid in root-cause analysis because they fully understand the design requirements.
Even if the “true costs” of GD&T training add up to $90,000 (as in our previous example), your investment could quickly pay itself off in multiples by moving you closer to the benefits of “perfect” production—and further away from the pricey pitfalls hiding in the other three quadrants.
Rejecting Bad Parts
While rejecting bad parts is technically better than being in the bottom quadrants (accepting bad parts or rejecting good parts), it still means something went wrong. If you could minimize the number of bad parts that get rejected, how much value would that add to your operation?
By enabling clear communication throughout the entire production process, Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing helps clarify specifications and eliminate the misinterpretations that might produce costly scrap—saving you thousands of hours in heated meetings (and headaches), plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in rejected parts.
Even with improved communication, mistakes can happen. GD&T training turns your entire team into troubleshooters, giving everyone the tools to spot mistakes before they become big problems. How much would it save your company if machinists could catch their mistakes after running the first five parts, instead of finishing a whole batch of hundreds or thousands of bad parts that get flagged during inspection?
Rejecting Good Parts
The scariest aspect of rejecting good parts is that you might not even know how many thousands of dollars’ worth of perfectly functional parts you’ve scrapped because someone didn’t understand how to read a print properly.
Perhaps those rejected parts get kicked back to your design team in the form of deviations. Instead of eating the scrap costs, you still have to pay the pay the price of evaluating each deviation to determine if the part can still function. That requires red-tagging the part, shutting down the line, and pulling your engineers off other projects for hours, days, or even weeks at a time to perform tolerance calculations, material testing, and other analysis to ascertain whether the part can be accepted or reworked instead of scrapped.
By loosening tolerances with GD&T, you can potentially accept more functional parts that might have been rejected in the past—saving yourself a ton of time evaluating unnecessary deviations. Because GD&T positioning opens up the tolerance zone by 56% compared to coordinate dimensioning, it essentially widens the definition of what’s acceptable. By teaching you how to set better tolerances, GD&T training moves your operation closer to the upper-right quadrant of near-perfect production.
Accepting Bad Parts
The final quadrant is the most insidious of all. Somehow, a batch of bad parts passed inspection and got shipped to your customer—sending a ripple of damaging repercussions that could impact your entire supply chain. Whether the order was worth $20,000 or $200,000, the cost of accepting bad parts quickly escalates.
Maybe your customer’s incoming inspection team will catch the error because your parts don’t fit into their assembly—forcing you to scrap it all and eat the cost. But if you’re not well-trained in Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, the debate about who’s right could last for weeks or even months—shutting down production until the disagreement is resolved, adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost.
Likewise, if you’re rejecting parts that passed your supplier’s outgoing inspection, you’ll have to defend your interpretation of the drawing. Just as you’d want the more experienced legal team if a dispute with a supplier went to court, you want your drawings to give you as much defense as possible. So, would you rather build your case on a universal standard, or rely on an ambiguous print?
Whether you end up winning the case or eating the cost, these disputes can ultimately damage your company’s reputation by bringing your dependability into question. If customers can’t trust you to catch mistakes before parts leave your plant, why would they trust you with any future orders?
We’ve seen shops lose $2.5 million contracts because they couldn’t produce parts to match the specifications on a print. In fact, we’ve been in those meetings, making decisions to move millions of dollars’ worth of business to companies that consistently send quality parts without problems, instead of hassling with troublesome shops that dispute drawings because they don’t understand GD&T.
Maximizing the ROI of GD&T Training
To calculate the ROI of GD&T training, you have to weigh the “true costs” of training against the value of potential savings that GD&T knowledge can bring your company. Sure, you might be investing $90,000 or more when you consider the total cost of your team’s time off the production line. But compare that to the hundreds of thousands of dollars you could save (and even gain) by:
- Improving production output by consistently making good parts
- Minimizing scrap by troubleshooting mistakes before they become problems
- Eliminating unnecessary meetings by getting everyone on the same page
- Saving hours of time arguing about different interpretations of a print
- Recovering precious engineering hours spent evaluating deviations
- Preventing production downtime and confusion by providing clear manufacturing instructions
- Ensuring that your inspection team is measuring parts correctly
- Standing confidently behind your decisions with the support of a universal standard
- Avoiding expensive litigation costs associated with supplier disputes
- Protecting your reputation by preventing unnecessary mistakes and miscommunications
Any one of those benefits might be well worth $90,000 once you consider the streamlined communication and manufacturing confidence you gain in return. Instead of throwing tens of thousands of dollars away on deviations, disputes, and scrap parts, you could use that money to transform your production process and prevent those costly mistakes altogether.
Your investment in GD&T training can unlock benefits that add long-term value to your operation. To see the ROI of GD&T training for your company, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
We want to help you figure out the best approach for getting your team using GD&T. We are here first to help - not sell, so let us know how we can assist your team to get started with GD&T Training.