Making a Splash

International company VER manufactures a wide range of specialty event-production equipment with Surfcam Traditional

When it comes to orchestrating major events, glamour and flawless presentation are all that the audience sees — which is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

Behind the scenes, however, plenty of hard work is devoted to ensuring that major events go off without a hitch.

Ensuring that the technical side of the event equation is solved is VER, a 35-year-old international production equipment company that operates a main campus with headquarters in Glendale, Calif. As the world’s largest equipment rental and services provider, VER specializes in helping clients “bring creative event experiences to life,” operating on six continents and servicing customers in the television, movie, music, sports, and corporate industries.

Overseeing the technical aspects of a staggering 50 productions per day across the globe, VER offers rental equipment and expertize in audio, broadcast, camera, computers, LED, lighting, monitors, media servers, projection, presentation, rigging and video equipment.

In addition to its wide range of rental equipment — the largest stock in the world — VER runs a machine shop dedicated to manufacturing products that both fulfill customer needs and meet demands for more custom-built rental solutions.

“No one has the inventory that we have or offers the level of service that we do,” says Michael Pappas, manufacturing manager for VER. “We’ve always offered equipment from some of the industry’s most well known brands, but now we have our own line of equipment as well — including LED frames, furniture, and camera accessories.”

“You can get really frustrated and confused if you’re programming multiple parts, and Surfcam just makes everything so much easier because organization is key.”

Michael Pappas, manufacturing manager

The company is renowned for being able to handle any job, whether it be small events or productions on a grand scale. VER is, notably, the “mechanical” and “technical” trend setter of its industry.

“Often, we have customers comes to us with a need or an idea for a unique product. That concept goes to the design and engineering teams,” said Pappas, regarding the manufacturing process. The VER R&D team creates initial drawings for new parts, which are then sent to the engineering team to be “broken down” into machinable designs. The engineering team uses the SOLIDWORKS computer-aided-design (CAD) solution, by Dassault Systèmes, to create detailed, 3D solid models.

Since 2013, VER has used the Surfcam Traditional computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) solution, by Vero Software, to fulfill its CNC manufacturing needs. Prior to the implementation of Surfcam Traditional, Pappas and his team had been using a different CAM solution.

“I have no regrets about going with Surfcam,” Pappas, who oversees the VER Machine Shop team. “Surfcam lays everything out really easily. It also gives you more options, and is a lot faster to use than our former software.”

Because VER uses PLM (product life management) software to track its jobs, SOLIDWORKS models are loaded into its PLM system, providing access to Pappas’s entire team.

“Every part has a part number, so when work orders are released to us we pull the part off of the PLM and then import the solid model into Surfcam,” Pappas says.

While lot sizes are typically just one or two parts per order, the company has produced as many as 500 parts for a single project. The lion’s share of manufacturing entails machining aluminum on 3-axis mills, though VER also uses a lathe with live tooling, as well as a 3D printer.

“The entertainment industry likes aluminum because it’s light and clean,” he says. Camera bodies, custom bracketry — such as bracketry for large televisions — and an array of camera components are among the usual suspects on the shop floor.

“Usually any product will be for a specific venue or customer, with five different subcategories for each job,” Pappas explains. “That’s a lot of programming if you consider that there are up to 20 parts per category. We’ll make everything from a custom fastener to complex housings, and everything in between.”

While contending with short lead times, the programming and manufacturing team at VER is tasked with producing high-quality parts and maintaining high standards as demand quickly rizes.

“Our turnaround time is tight, sometimes with less than four weeks’ notice,” he says. “There has also been a 150 percent increase in demand for parts in the last two years, so we have to stay organized and able to keep track of everything that’s going on.”

Among the time-saving features within Surfcam that help the team at VER manufacture its products are the solution’s organizational tools, including coloring and masking options that assist with planning jobs.

“You can get really frustrated and confused if you’re programming multiple parts, and Surfcam just makes everything so much easier because organization is key,” Pappas says.

Also utilized by VER is the Surfcam Traditional Multi-Cut strategy, a 3-axis cycle than enables the machining of single or multiple surfaces in a variety of cutting patterns. Curve boundaries, check surfaces and gouge avoidance are supported by the cutting strategy.

“It’s a very versatile cutting path that gives you a lot more control,” Pappas explains. “Multi-cut allows you to have multi-faceted toolpaths within the main toolpath.”

VER also takes advantage of Surfcam Traditional’s TRUEMill machining cycle, which delivers optimized roughing toolpath that can be completed with a one-step 3D roughing through pre-finishing operation.

TRUEMill offers a synchronized multiple-tool strategy that coordinates up to eight tools in a single operation. Regardless of how many tools are used, the specialized cycle creates uniform step height across all surfaces while removing material at significantly faster rates and greater depths of cut.

“TRUEMILL is an easy way to remove material and it helps us out because we aren’t swapping out tools that often,” Pappas explains. “It’s designed to give you more tool life, so we can keep the tooling in the machine for a long time.”

For staff at VER, the ability to turn out a wide range of top-notch product keeps their days busy, challenging, and infinitely interesting. Surfcam Traditional helps the team meet its challenged by delivering consistency and quality.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who’s worked here who doesn’t enjoy it to some degree,” Pappas says of VER. “A lot of the problems with machining is that it becomes monotonous, but here you’re moving on to different parts quite quickly.”


About the Company

Name: VER

Business: Rental equipment and expertize in audio, broadcast, camera, computers, LED, lighting, monitors, media servers, projection, presentation, rigging and video equipment.

Website: www.ver.com

 

Benefits Achieved

  • Use of TRUEMILL cycle for rapid material removal and extension of tool life
  • Coloring and masking options that assist with planning jobs
  • Organizational and toolpath control

Comments

“You can get really frustrated and confused if you’re programming multiple parts, and Surfcam just makes everything so much easier because organization is key.”

Michael Pappas, manufacturing manager

 

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