September 23, 2013
A start-up subcontractor was struggling so hard to program its punch press to produce the complex parts it needed, that it considered switching all manufacture to its laser (below) – until investing in the world’s most powerful sheetmetal CAD/CAM software, Radan.
The software that came with its 51 station triple track turret Amada AC 2510 NT (pictured below) got Bolton Sheetmetal Ltd going with the basics, but Managing Director Martin Farrow says they needed Radan’s advanced sheetmetal technology to take them to the next level.
“We had one employee, Jack Llewellyn (pictured below right, with Martin Farrow, left) programming the punch and our laser full-time, five days a week, and even then he couldn’t keep up with requirements. Now he’s got time to do the programming and operate the laser as well.”
Martin says in the pre-Radan days they never punched anything with a radius – all those components went on to the Amada 3015 4kw Mark 11 laser. “The punch is a superb machine, and we knew it was capable of doing absolutely everything we wanted...but with our original software even something fairly simple, like a square plate with a radius on each corner, was beyond it.”
It reached the stage where 90 percent of parts were cut on the laser, just to avoid what he says was the hassle and lengthy time to program the punch. “We were spending hours on it. I was having to step in and try to program it myself, and it could take me a day to complete the program. When I was on holiday, if a job hadn’t already been programmed, the punch just wouldn’t be used. Now when I’m away I have every confidence that the team will be able to get the punch to do whatever they need it to, and that’s fantastic for us.
“Amada are the machine specialists, and we’re really pleased with both the laser and the punch...and Radan are the software specialists. We now take Radan for granted because it’s so simple to use and quick to produce the programs we need.”
The Radan Combi system which drives both their laser and punch, was only installed in May this year, but proved its worth immediately, and within three months Bolton Sheetmetal were punching more components than they were lasering. “We can now mirror a part to get two components together, we’ve improved material utilisation with common line cutting, and capitalise on part removal with a shute. A lot of companies just don’t understand the benefits that more powerful software gives them.”
Swift tooling of the part, and the powerful nester, mean they no longer restrict sheets to just one type of part. “I’d never mix parts on a sheet with the old software, mainly because we had to tool the entire sheet, but with Radan we just tool the part,” says Martin.
It also increased their flexibility, giving them the option of easily switching work between laser and punch, depending on which type of cutting a job is best suited to.
Although Bolton Sheetmetal is only two years old, the family running it have over 40 years experience in the industry. Martin used to work for the sheetmetal company his father set up in 1974 – now Martin’s father works for him. They operate with ten employees, many of them family members and close friends, from 5,500 square foot premises near the Reebok Football Stadium. A major laser contract is to manufacture doors and door frames for the prison service, and they punch chassis channels for DAF trucks. Other products they manufacture, mainly from galvanised, stainless and mild steels, along with Zintec, include shop fittings and office furniture.
They found that Radan Combi was ideal for their independent punch and profile requirements, while also providing a seamless transfer of parts between the two technologies.
Martin also says Radan’s Quick Estimate function is proving invaluable for them, run in conjunction with their MRP system. “We get a dxf file from the customer, tool it up and click Quick Estimate, which gives us the time the job is likely to take and the optimum sheet size to use. We import that information into our MRP system which produces an accurate quote for us to send to our customer, based on Radan’s information.” He says their next investment is likely to be Radan’s high performance and versatile 3D modelling package, Radan 3D.
And Radan’s bottom line benefits in the short time they have been using it? “It’s not only saved us a person’s wage by freeing them up to do other things, and wiped out all the hassle we had, it’s given us much more scope. We can now take on jobs we couldn’t even have considered before. Radan is advanced sheetmetal technology and I wouldn’t have invested in it if I didn’t know it would enable us to take on more complex work and keep us ahead of the game in this very competitive industry.”