Newport-based distributor Shine Catering Systems has worked with CAD CAM software provider Radan to drastically increase efficiency in its onsite fabrication facility.
Shine manufactures thousands of different components a year, each requiring its own bespoke computer code through Radan’s Radraft, Radprofile and Radnest sheet metal cutting software. For example, a full servery counter alone could contain 200 different components.
However, the distributor came across an issue resulting from design constraints and human error. Senior design engineer Neil Thorne said: “For the aesthetics of our finished installations, we’re governed by grain direction on the sheets. We can’t have neighbouring cabinets with the grain going in different directions, the grain all has to go the same way.
“This was a problem for us because when the project was going into Radan, the software was nesting in the best orientation for sheet utilisation, and sometimes we didn’t have the correct top face, and the grain was in the wrong direction. We needed to overcome this without having to nest everything manually.”
Therefore after discussions with Radan brand manager Olaf Körner, and Radan’s team of developers, a macro (input sequence instruction) was created in the software specifically for Shine to solve this issue. Körner said: “With input from the engineers at Shine, we put together a specification which allowed us to put a process known as the ‘F-Stop’ in place, that allows Shine to produce the kitchens with a minimal risk of costly errors.”
At the design stage in SolidWorks, a 5mm letter ‘F’ is put on the top face of the panel, which indicates the correct grain direction.
Thorne detailed: “Thanks to the macro, when Radan is flat patterning it determines from the F-Stop which is the top surface and which way the grain has to go. Radan then nests with the correct top face and the grain going in the right direction, rather than purely to optimise sheet usage.
“This is extremely important for the aesthetics of our finished installations. And it stops issues on the factory floor; previously things could be nested either in the wrong orientation or upside down, and even folded the wrong way in the press brake, and had to be scrapped. The amount of scrap we now produce has reduced dramatically.”
Although the volume of scrappage produced has been largely reduced, the software also allows these remnants to be optimised. Design engineer Steffan Owen explained: “For offcuts, we use the remnants feature. Our scrap used to go in the bin, but now every offcut is put back in the system; and the first thing Radan does is to look at a remnant first rather than use a new sheet. That way we’re saving on material as well.”
The increase in efficiency and production rate in the cutting operation has meant further investment in the factory is required to stop a current bottleneck at the bending stage. Shine will shortly be commissioning a third press brake to fully benefit from the increasingly fast rate that the flat components are coming off the laser.