Finding the Right Tools for the Job
Sometimes even all the know-how in the world won’t help when you don’t have the right tools for the job.
If you’ve ever struggled to use a standard screwdriver on a task that calls for a Phillips head, you know firsthand that even the smallest tools can make the biggest difference.
Such was the case for Advanced Metal Components, Inc., a 38-year-old precision sheet-metal manufacturer based in Swainsboro, Georgia.
Having made a habit of embracing technologies that help it produce high-quality parts while remaining competitive, the company has enjoyed decades of success.
It found itself in unknown territory, however, when it purchased a new Amada EMK 3610 fabrication center and simply couldn’t make it work.
After struggling to successfully program the machine, Senior Product Engineer Dawn Phillips — who was tasked with getting the Amada online — knew that it was time to replace the wrong tool with the right one.
“We had a new Amada machine that wasn’t being used to its full capacity. The programming software we had wasn’t maximizing the full capability of the machine,” says, Phillips, an engineer with 31 years in the manufacturing industry, 10 of them at Advanced Metal Components.
“We had software that wasn’t fulfilling our needs,” Phillips says. “We struggled for a long time to get it to operate as was expected. We got to the point where we realized we weren’t going to get to where we needed to be.”
Like any shop, Advanced Metal Components simply doesn’t have idle time to spare. Among its repeat clients is a major international producer of industrial equipment, and meeting delivery dates can be challenging.
“Our client base is fairly diverse,” Phillips says. “We are considered a job shop, but we do a lot of repeat work.”
When Phillips set out to find software that could program the Amada, she was also looking for a CAM solution that could program all of the company’s machinery. The company’s lineup includes two TRUMPF lasers, three TRUMPF punching centers, an Amada 3610, insertion presses, press brakes, and more.
“Implementing and working with Radan was very seamless. Problems were solved quickly and we were up and running in a very short period of time.”Dawn Phillips/Senior Product Engineer
“Our goal was to have one programming software that covered everything so that we wouldn’t have to learn to use so many different systems,” Phillips says.
Advanced Metal Components ultimately chose the Radan sheet-metal CAM solution, by Vero Software, because Phillips had successfully used it in the past. Her experience was overwhelmingly positive, and she found Radan’s capabilities and customer support ideal.
“I knew Radan’s capabilities inside and out — and I knew how they resolved issues,” she says. “All of the factors were taken into consideration. As far as programming software is concerned, Radan is the cream of the crop.”
Radan was acquired by the company in September of 2014, and was quickly brought online. Phillips estimates that the entire process, from implementation to full integration, took fewer than three months.
“Implementing and working with Radan was very seamless,” Phillips says. “Problems were solved quickly and we were up and running in a very short period of time.”
Among the Radan features that Phillips feels set the software apart are its “straightforward interface” and ease of use.
“Importing geometry is very easy,” she says. “The interface is clean and there aren’t unnecessary things cluttering your workspace. I think Radan is really easy to use as far as programming software goes.”
Phillips cites Radan’s inherent flexibility as a major benefit, and especially appreciates the ability to manually manipulate punching programs.
“Radan will automatically apply the tooling in a relatively desirable way, but every programmer wants to program it a different way,” she explains. “It will get the job done automatically, but there are always little tweaks you can make to improve efficiency at the machine — and Radan allows us to do that.”
Within that same vein, Phillips also appreciates that Radan allows the user to customize tooling sequences. As Advanced Metal Components manufactures a high number of extruded holes, customizing sequences in specific instances leads to greater efficiency and standardization.
“Once you get your parts nested on a sheet, you can apply order texts for different programming scenarios, and it’s very editable,” she says. “Before Radan, we had to go in manually and pick all of the tools. In Radan, that is a saved order text file. One may be ‘Extruded Hole Punch,’ while another might be ‘Embosses.’ ”
Due to its range of demands, the company performs both static and dynamic nesting, and Radan’s nest customization features allow Phillips to designate the amount of time spent creating dynamic nests.
“You have the options within Radan to tell it not to spend any more than two, four, 10, or however many minutes, to maximize a sheet,” she says. “These little options can make a big difference. We’ve found a happy medium and feel like we are producing better nests, and more quality.”
Additional time savers for Advanced Metal Components are Radan’s common-line cutting and interlocking capabilities.
Common-line cutting is performed when two parts share a common line, and the distance between them is only the width of the tool used to cut. Interlocking parts are creatively nested parts that, for instance, may be ‘L’ shaped and rotated 180 degrees for nest maximization.
“We all just feel that the software has given us more yields,” Phillips says. “The software has more than paid for itself in just the time that we have spent on it.”
About the Company
Name: Advanced Metal Components, Inc.
Business: Precision sheet-metal manufacturing
- Flexibility in programming, including customized nesting, tooling sequences, and more
- Ability to apply and easily edit order texts for various programming scenarios
- Time saved with Radan’s interlocking and common-line cutting capabilities
“Implementing and working with Radan was very seamless. Problems were solved quickly and we were up and running in a very short period of time.”
Dawn Phillips, Senior Product Engineer