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Facing demand that its battery of punch presses and laser cutting systems could not meet effectively, this shop installed a CAM system that easily configured into its operations and met the challenge by eliminating waste across the board.
Hearth & Home Technologies (Lakeville, MN) is the world’s leading producer and installer of hearth products. The manufacturer uses a combination of 14 punching and laser machines across several brands and, as demand grew a few years ago, came to realize that their previous CAM system did not generate efficient nests, was slow to operate and was unreliable.
Dustin Rassier, a manufacturing engineer in the H&H shop, says, “We wanted a system that would integrate into our MRP and Pro-E CAD systems. Also, many of our parts are not rectangular, so we were looking to optimize material efficiency. We decided to look at alternative systems because of the problem and evaluated six systems in total.”
He continues, “After much research, we found that JETCAM generated up to 10 percent more efficient nests with the benchmarks we set up than other systems, including our previous one. This software could also be configured to work well with our existing data systems, thereby eliminating waste of dual data entry. ”
Four ‘floating’ licenses of the software were installed in 2008, along with the high performance nesting (FFHPN) module and nesting interface that provided databases for materials and orders which could be populated automatically by their existing MRP system. An interface from Pro-E to JETCAM was also purchased and support for the Amada part pickers used in the plant was provided, allowing for parts to be automatically unloaded after punching.
The licenses were installed on a server rather than on specific PCs so that users could concurrently log on from different locations to access the software, giving greater flexibility on the shop floor. Rassier was trained along with twelve other staff, which he cites as being extremely straightforward. “The training was informative and, in most cases, the operators were ready to run with the nesting software after just one or two hours of training,” he recalls.
Once the system was live there was an immediate reduction in programming time as all orders were automatically transferred from the MRP system into the new nesting software. Furthermore, the Pro-E interface also allowed for finished CAD designs to be exported into JETCAM with a single mouse click. This saved approximately two hours a day, which also reduced the possibility of errors.
Machine cycle time noticeably improved due to features such as common line cutting, intelligent lead-ins on the laser machines, along with optimized sequencing routines that find the quickest cutting/punching path and control head movement, all of which allowed for greater overall throughput.
The FFHPN nesting module delivered a consistent improvement over the previous system, with an average efficiency improvement of 5.73 percent. Rassier noted that the process of creating nests ran considerably faster with the new software.
Support is crucial for any critical data application, and the H&H shop noticed a reduction on the need for assistance. “This new software requires less support than our previous system, even during the initial installation process,” explains Rassier. ”The ability to create a support file with any parts or nests we have questions on helps us to quickly explain to support staff what we’re trying to achieve. Support has been very good. We haven’t had any major issues and all questions are generally answered within a couple of hours.”
Since the installation a few years ago, the company has already seen a return on their investment and now plans to expand their range of machines, all of which will be driven by JETCAM. “The savings we made on material alone paid for the software within ten months, not including labor or machine runtime savings,” noted Rassier. ”We plan to purchase other cutting machines in the future which will we will drive with this software.”
• ROI of just 10 months, based on material savings alone
• This software was up to 10 percent more efficient than evaluated competitors and previous system
• Support for part picker to automatically unload punched parts
• Saving two hours a day in reduced programming time
• Improvement in machine cycle time
• Twelve staffed trained, with most being proficient within two hours
• Tight integration into legacy data and CAD systems
• Required less support than previous system, even during install
• One-click export from Pro-E CAD file to JETCAM geometry file
• Ability to create support file speeds up learning and minimizes support