Radan Keeps Underground Rolling

December 22, 2014 -- Almost everyone who has been on a London Underground train will have seen products drawn up and manufactured in Radan by sheetmetal subcontractor Sweetnam & Bradley Ltd.

Having had framework agreements in place with London Underground for around 20 years, Sweetnam & Bradley Ltd are heavily involved in refurbishing carriages, with anything from door skins and window frames, through advert and map panels, to sturdy cover flaps for alarm levers.

 Operations Director Christian Olejnik says although they are an approved supplier, most contracts are put out for tender across Europe, and Radan’s 2D draughting, and 3D design and unfolding capabilies, along with Radprofile and Radpunch’s CNC programming, helps them put successful bids together.

Radprofile drives the company’s recently-acquired Mazak Optiplex 3015 Fiber 2kW laser cutter, with Radpunch programming two Amada punch presses.

“Once the OEM no longer supports the product, London Underground need a contractor who can update the original drawings to produce a replacement part. They put a material procurement strategy in place, creating a number of commodity codes, one of which was metals, to reduce their hundreds of suppliers. We successfully bid to become one of six core suppliers for metalwork.”   

Ironically, with an annual turnover of £2.5-million, Sweetnam & Bradley’s 40-strong workforce operates out of 20,000 square foot premises on the old station yard site, just metres from the engine shed in Malmesbury, alongside the route of the former GWR line, closed by the Beeching axe in the 1960s.

Manufactured mainly in Zintec and stainless steel, the parts are first drawn up either in Radan’s 2D draughting solution Radraft, or Radan 3D. “The basic panels are generated in Radprofile or Radraft which produces geometry to the full accuracy that modern computers allow,” says Production Supervisor Andrew Boulton (pictured below). “And we use Radan 3D for assemblies to ensure the components all fit together properly. Even if we have approved customer drawings we like to know for ourselves that it all fits together before we start to manufacture anything. We just couldn’t do that without Radan, because the parts we make couldn’t be programmed manually.”

Once a Radan part has been drawn up, tooled and nested, the DNC link is set and the CNC code sent to the laser or one of their two Amada punch presses; a Pega 357 with Auto Index, and Vipros 255.

The Mazak Optiplex 3015 laser is one of the first in the UK, and Christian Olejnik says they selected Radprofile to drive it, because the software seamlessly integrates the whole programming process of geometry creation, nesting, toolpath profiling, sequencing, code generation and finally DNC connectivity to the machine controller. 

“We were looking for the most efficient way to nest, and Radprofile’s fully integrated Project Nester gives an instantaneous overview of our profiling demand. Automatic rectangular nesting, single part true shape nesting and manual drag and drop nesting techniques mean we can quickly, easily and efficiently meet ever changing production and customer demands.”

Everyone in Sweetnam & Bradley’s factory can perform several tasks, with five employees trained on Radan. “The same person could create the part, send it to the nester, set the DNC link, set up and operate the machine, run the part off, then bend it on our manual press brakes, weld it and dress it. We’ve even got a dedicated finishing department, working with both wet spray and powder spray, to finish the components, using the latest spraying and curing technologies.”

With some of the rolling stock dating back to the 1960s Christian Olejnik says they often need to work with the original manufacturers’ drawings which don’t tell the full story of how to manufacture the parts using modern technology. “This is why Sweetnam & Bradley has such a good reputation with London Underground. We have skilled engineers who can use Radan with these old drawings, ensuring that the new parts we make are a perfect fit.  

And Radan recently proved invaluable for working with modern drawings, too. “We were contracted to produce sturdy cover flaps for alarm levers, which London Underground wanted to roll out on the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Northern lines ahead of the 2012 Olympics. But the product couldn’t actually be manufactured from the drawings, so we used Radan to create new designs on the original drawing layouts, and as a result, we’ve been invited to produce these parts for more of the fleet.”

As well as manufacturing products for the infrastructure of the London rail system, including overground as well as the Underground, the ISO9001-registered company also produces components for Metrology, Defence and Aerospace. 

Part of the Vero Software Group, Radan is a leading sheetmetal CAD/CAM solution providing productivity, reliability and flexibility. Vero has direct offices in the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, USA, Brazil, Netherlands, China, South Korea, Spain and India supplying products to more than 45 countries through its wholly owned subsidiaries and reseller network.

Vero is part of Hexagon (Nordic exchange: HEXA B), a leading global provider of design, measurement and visualisation technologies that enable customers to design, measure and position objects, and process and present data.

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