Case Studies: Automated Metal Manufacturing
Central Metal Manufacturing (Leicestershire, United Kingdom), formerly Midland Sheet Metal, designs and manufactures sheet metal assembled solutions. The company had been using Jetcam Expert from Jetcam International (Fontvielle, Monaco) since 1999 to drive three laser machines. Central Metal Manufacturing was planning to purchase a Pullmax P6000 FCP punch press with load and unload to integrate into its material handling system, and evaluated the market to find the most suitable computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) system to drive it.
Pete Jones, IT manager for Central Metal Manufacturing, says, “Our previous CAM system did not have free form nesting and could not support the Pullmax, so we evaluated several systems. We decided to choose Jetcam primarily because of the way that it handled the Pullmax part picker-we could configure each part to be unloaded to a specific location each time, rather than just allocating a single fixed location for the part. No other system would allow us to do this.”
Eight licenses of Jetcam Expert were installed, along with free form high-performance nesting, and postprocessors to drive the LVD lasers. An additional license was added several years later. When the Pullmax punch press was installed in 2000, an additional postprocessor was purchased. Although the system ran well, after the management buyout, Central Metal Manufacturing decided to re-evaluate the market to ensure that it was still getting the most out of its machines, having now replaced the LVD lasers with a Bystronic Byspeed 3015. At that time, Central Metal Manufacturing had one person working full-time and a part-time staff member producing nests just for the laser.
Jones adds, “When we assessed the other systems there was nothing that provided us with a reason to change. We then took a look at Jetcam’s Remote Control Processing (RCP) module and decided to evaluate it with a view to integrating it into our in-house bespoke manufacturing resources planning (MRP) system.”
Central Metal Manufacturing initiated a trial of RCP, which was ordered shortly afterwards, along with another license of Jetcam Expert. Says Jones, “Integration was easy; I was given a sample of what the input files should look like and also read through all the commands in the help file. I then made alterations to our system and had a working version by the end of the day of installation. Straight away we saw benefits. From day one nests were being generated automatically, so we no longer needed the part-time nester and the full-time staff member could concentrate on other work, with only 60% of his time now dedicated to CAM-related tasks.”
A further benefit is the ability to quickly write RCP programs to automate simple tasks. Jones notes, “When we acquired the Bystronic laser we needed to amend the angle of rotation of 40,000 geometry files because of the width of the slats on the laser bed. I wrote a small script in RCP that then ran overnight, opening and updating each geometry file with the new settings. Also, when we create nests we manually check them afterwards, and have now created a button within MRP to re-run them and generate numerical control (NC) code and reports automatically through RCP.”
As more of the computer-aided design (CAD) to computer-aided manufacturing process now is automated, the support requirement also has noticeably reduced. Central Metal Manufacturing subscribes to a software maintenance contract and has also seen additional savings through updates and enhancements to the software.
Central Metal Manufacturing plans to further integrate its MRP with Jetcam and existing CAD system, automatically providing Jetcam with material information along with the CAD file so that the process from CAD to NC is completely automated. Jones concludes, “The RCP upgrade will pay for itself in under a year due to manpower savings alone. Nesting efficiency also has improved, and there have been many other benefits because of the speed at which we can now automate functions.”
- Jetcam International
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