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Common Key Cutting Machine Questions and Problems

When it comes to key machines and problems and issues that arise, it got me thinking, "What is it like on the other end - on the manufacturing end, and what types of issues are manufacturers dealing with people calling in having problems?" So, I reached out to Ilco, and I was able to get Billy from the Ilco tech support and Tony from AD Ilco sales to have a conversation with. What we talked about is universal and will be helpful even if you don't have an Ilco machine.

Futura Key Machine

PJ: Billy, I'm excited to talk to you about some of the issues and phone calls that you get to give us an inside perspective on what's going on, so I want to start with the Futura machines and what are the phone calls that you're getting in regards to help with those?

Billy: Well, typically, we're getting phone calls regarding the edge cut side of the machine, not particularly the high-security laser side because it's a little bit more strategic when it comes to edge cut cutting keys with the Futura Auto. The Futura Auto has a rotating jaw with A, B, C, or D and typically anything automotive. You want to reference clamp side C or D. Clamp side C has a raised groove on the bottom to automatically slip-slide the key's centerline onto that raised groove to allow perfect positioning. Clamp side D has that same raised groove at the top. Now, for example, clamp side C, you would use your H92 or H75. Any key pretty much with a centerline, you're going to use clamp side C. Clamps side D will be for your off-center keys like Toyota TR47, NIO2 Nissan's, Subaru keys, things of that nature, so if that line of the key is not exactly in the center of the key, then you would use D. If that line is directed at the center of the key, you're going to use clamp side C. Now, as far as all your shoulder keys, like your HD 105, HD 106 Honda blanks, or the Mazda, the MAZ24, those will be referenced by the actual shoulder, and you can typically use clamps side A for that.

PJ: You know, Billy, that's some great information. So is what I hear you say is that one of the biggest phone calls you're getting a lot of is just people not realizing that you're going to use the Futura Edge style jaw, the same way that you would use your manual key duplicator was just because it comes set on jaw A doesn't mean that you always have to keep it there, right? You have to rotate it around and find the right -

Billy: Absolutely.

PJ: - jaw that fits. And that's excellent information on the C and the D jaws as well.

Billy: Right. Now, what are your duplicators? Typically you're using duplicators for residential house keys, file cabinet keys, things of that nature. So, of course, clamp side A is just fine because 90% of those keys have actual shoulders, so that you can use your flip-up shoulder gauge for that. Typically, anything automotive is going to be referenced by the tip. So you have to tip stop those keys, or whether it's tip stop two tip stop three, you want those keys to be in the best position possible so that you can get the best results possible because no one's in the industry to lose money on key blanks.

PJ: Absolutely, yeah. And when it comes to the tip stops, I've found myself not finding them before, or maybe they're further away than I want to go. So I'm like, oh, what else can I use, and I'm curious, have you ever found yourself using something besides the actual tip stop?

Billy: Absolutely not. I will grab a tip stop tool from another machine before using a paperclip or coins or anything like that. I want the best results possible. That's the only reason I do not recommend using anything other than a tip stop.

PJ: Yep. Okay. So the official recommendation is to use the tip stop. Don't get crazy and start using other things now, and I'm guilty, though, Billy. I have to tell you I'm guilty of using things, okay.

Billy: It happens, and I understand, but we do have parts breakdowns. If you ever need a tip stop, you can give us a call; we'll get to the part number and have the customer get with you guys on, courting them one or, you know, pricing and availability and things of that nature.


Silca Key Duplicator

PJ: Absolutely, yeah, we stock a ton of them. So, yeah, it's good. So now, when it comes to just your normal duplicators, do you find the calls you're getting are similar to people not understanding jaw sides?

Billy: Yeah, it's like you said, the machines come standard on clamp side A. So, to a new user, realistically, they're just going to put two blank keys in or put a blank key in and try to copy that key, not knowing why there are or why there is A, B, C, or D clamp. So typically, for anything residential or house key-related or things of that nature, you're going to use clamp side A. Clamp side B would be for your deeper keys. If you have a really deep Schlage lock system, you will want to use B or Sargent. C is for just like on the Futura, your automotive so that the centerline will go in C as well and D -

PJ: Like a B106?

Billy: Correct, and then D will be like your NIO2 Nissan, the off-center key.

PJ: That's great. That's good info. So you know, that's good, and you know, I'm sure as you have seen is, we all have to start somewhere, right? And sometimes, get a new machine, and there have been so many times that like, I'll get something new. I don't take the time to think through it, per se, and next thing you know, I'm calling someone, or I'm messing something up, and they're like, hey, ah, it's pretty simple, you have to, you know, go through the process a little bit and I kind of...I hear you saying that when it comes to the jaws.

Billy: Absolutely. The main thing is to make sure that the customer is aware that we're just here to provide information. We want to help you out the best way possible, so no question is stupid to us at all. Because I also understand that no one wants to be held responsible for destroying a key machine. So if a customer wants to call us before they even remove it out of the box, we are outstanding with that.



PJ: Okay. Very cool. I mean, in my opinion, that's a great way to handle customer support. I think that's awesome. Now when it comes to high-security, and I'm talking about just all your electronic machines, because I think this is just like a universal kind of truth here: Honda high-security keys are kind of like the standard. They're a key that if your machine is not on, you're going to have problems.

Billy: Absolutely. Correct.

PJ: What's that?

Billy: Honda locks have no give whatsoever.

PJ: They have no give, and they were quick, right? And so it provides this awkward thing, and I'm curious, do you get many phone calls for that?

Billy: We don't. Typically, it's more of a how-to instead of a, Hey, I got a problem. With our electronic key machines, we try to walk through storing favors because these machines are card cutting machines and what we mean by card is the actual profile of the actual lock system. So the Honda lock system is specific to card number 2354, which gives you the entire line of key codes for those specific Honda models. As far as duplicating the keys you typically want to stay away from, I'm going to say the second and third generation of duplication so if you have an original key. Then you copy that one, and then you copy the copy of that key; you may experience a problem because it's a third-generation key and Honda locks are very, very, very strict.

PJ: Yeah, they are. I mean, do you have any recommendations like sometimes when you go to put a key in, you put your finger on the top of it, and you start clamping it down, and it's so worn out, and the webbing is so fragile that it pops.

Billy: I never experienced that one.

PJ: Okay, that's good.

Billy: Typically, what we do recommend is if you're going to copy a Honda key, whether it's electronic or manual, using a twister or a Futura, we always recommend taking a little wire brush and brushing The actual key itself to make sure that the contact points are true.



PJ: Okay. Very good. Well, you know, Billy, I have one last question for you, and I appreciate you hanging out with me here for a few. And let me hear your thoughts a little bit, and that is the Flash mobile. It's a new machine like The Flash isn't new. But the mobile part, the battery part is, and I'm inquisitive, are you getting a lot of phone calls on that? And if so, like, what's the number one phone call?

Billy: Absolutely. My number one phone call is, hey, I got this machine fresh out of the box, and it's not working. We immediately asked them, Is the battery plugged in? And they say, Absolutely not. So they cannot be shipped with the battery plugged in due to the airline regulations, so-

PJ: Okay. It's unplugged, and you know, the truth is, I have done that myself. When I got the Flash, I guess that's the mobile setup there anymore, but when I got the Flash mobile, charged it up, I'm all pumped up, and then I went to cut a key, I unplug it, I want to make sure I get the actual battery charge. There's no battery charge, and it took me a minute to read the instructions to be like, Oh, hey, you need to connect that, right?

Billy: It's something straightforward to overlook because the last thing you expect to go through is a machine not working. And the last thing you're going to think it is, the batteries simply unplugged.

PJ: Absolutely

Billy: Because it will work if it's plugged into the wall, but nothing happens when you unplug it from the wall.

PJ: Yeah, absolutely. That's great, Billy. I appreciate you taking the time to hang out and getting to hear kind of the insider scoop of what you deal with on a day-to-day basis. So thank you.

Billy: It's most definitely a fun job.


PJ:  Tony!

Tony: Yes

PJ: Welcome back!

Tony: Well, thank you very much, PJ. We've done a number of these podcasts. We look to do more as the opportunity comes up. My role in Advanced Diagnostics Ilco is pretty much the same as it's been over the years. I am in charge of the mobile vans. That tour of the country and some of the equipment that will be discussed today is on the vans for an upfront personal demonstration and more factfinding, so we're very excited to have the vans out running and in your neighborhood soon. So I wanted to shout out for that, and then just again, the challenges obviously with COVID and everything, and just getting out there in front of customers is the main driving point for me. And this year and getting, fighting to get back to some normal support out there for distributors, for end-users alike, so I'm very excited for what lies ahead and again, for the opportunity to do this podcast and for a guy like Billy to take some time and answer some questions and explain some things from his side of his position in the service chain.

PJ: Absolutely, Tony, and you know, I know you do a lot with the vans, and I'm curious, like, how many miles do you think you drive a year on in one of those?

Tony: Ah, there, it's not too bad. I think we get about 30k to 35k; it's just under 40,000 miles that we see because with the two months, basically December and January. We don't see a lot of activity; we use that for maintenance and change out, change out some new equipment, put some new equipment on the van, and get a chance to reorganize it. The western one is ready to go. In fact, I move it tomorrow, so it'll be headed towards Southern California or Arizona, then on to Texas, so I'm very excited. It gives me a chance to organize it. I think it's been the best I've had since I've had the van, actually, so I'm very excited about this year, and hopefully, we'll put many more miles into it. I think we will because I think this year, we'll be able to get them into Canada. For two years now, we've been kind of subject to just the lower in the United States and moving around the territories of East and West. So we should do more miles this year than we have in the past two.

PJ: Very cool. Well, yeah, Tony, thank you so much for coming on and hanging out. I appreciate it.

Tony: Thank you, PJ. Fantastic job, and go CLK!

PJ: Thank you! Billy, Tony, thank you so much for coming on and chatting with me for a little bit. And for all of you, I would love to know what little tidbits or nuggets you picked up and learned during this episode. I'll be looking for them in the comments below of our YouTube video. Thank you; I will see you next time!

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