Safe in the JetCam nest

Author Cutting Tool Engineering
Published
June 09,2021 - 09:30am

Related Glossary Terms

  • computer numerical control ( CNC)

    computer numerical control ( CNC)

    Microprocessor-based controller dedicated to a machine tool that permits the creation or modification of parts. Programmed numerical control activates the machine’s servos and spindle drives and controls the various machining operations. See DNC, direct numerical control; NC, numerical control.

  • computer-aided design ( CAD)

    computer-aided design ( CAD)

    Product-design functions performed with the help of computers and special software.

  • numerical control ( NC)

    numerical control ( NC)

    Any controlled equipment that allows an operator to program its movement by entering a series of coded numbers and symbols. See CNC, computer numerical control; DNC, direct numerical control.

By JetCAM International SARL

ASCO Power Technologies, which is headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, and has a facility in Lexington, North Carolina, manufactures automatic transfer switches, switchgear and other power management products. The company has used JetCAM Expert nesting software since receiving it with a Finn-Power 880 CNC punch press in 1997. Its performance provided a stark contrast to the different nesting software systems driving other machines at the facility at that time.

“We used a range of nesting software systems supplied alongside machines at the time, with varying issues,” said Fabrication Specialist James Hunley. “One was slow and not user-friendly — more of a CAD system than software designed for punching. Functions, such as batch nesting, were very cumbersome. We moved to another system, which resolved some of the issues of its predecessor but brought its own problems. Making changes often required you to start over — not convenient when you’d just spent 20 minutes tooling a part.”

Having multiple nesting systems, each driving specific machines, caused its own issues as employees were less knowledgeable on some systems than others. This also resulted in problems during holidays or sick leaves. Retooling jobs for other machines often required going back to DXF files and starting again.

“One system was unreliable at applying tooling if the part was not created perfectly in CAD,” Hunley said. “This meant that we’d have to go back to the engineering department to get changes made to the CAD file before trying again.”

After using JetCAM Expert alongside other systems, he realized that it was outperforming them.

“We started to wonder what else it could drive,” Hunley said. “It was the most user-friendly, and financially it was cheaper than other systems. Why, when we can do things faster in JetCAM, would we not use it for everything?”


ASCO Power Technologies manufactures automatic transfer switches, switchgear and other power management products. Image courtesy of JetCAM International

The decision was made around 2005 to standardize on JetCAM Expert for all new machines.

“We’ve run a number of benchmark comparisons over the years, and each time JetCAM outperformed other systems both in terms of overall speed of programming and nesting efficiency,” Hunley said. “Programming was up to 75% quicker, and nesting efficiency could be as much as 14% better. The machine path optimization allowed jobs to run faster with code generated by JetCAM.”

In addition to new machines running JetCAM Expert, he set about replacing the remaining nesting systems and talked about post-processors with Duluth, Georgia-based NestOne Solutions LLC, a distributor for JetCAM International.

“We needed a stable and consistent solution for all of our machines,” Hunley said. “After we initially got JetCAM, we quickly identified that we were seeing bottlenecks on other machines. When we purchased posts for other machines, such as our Wiedemann, we were able to move work over to it in a matter of hours, whereas previously it would take three days.”

Technology-specific functionality also has saved time for ASCO Power Technologies. Tool Teach has been particularly instrumental in streamlining the process of applying punch tool hits to complex components.

“We adapt to what engineers request on the part with teach mode,” Hunley said. “We can teach a special tooling arrangement, which will then be applied automatically on all parts with elements of the same geometry. JetCAM automatically cleans the file during import, and then we’ll auto-tool the part for each machine that it can be processed on, which means that it’s ready to nest on any machine.”

In 2014, the company upgraded its standard free-form nesting to JetCAM International’s free-form, high-performance nesting module. Using its time-based nesting algorithm, this delivered on average a further 4% savings on material.

Continually looking for areas of improvement, ASCO Power Technologies identified that scheduled, fully dynamic nesting across all machines would provide more benefits. The company reviewed manufacturing execution systems, finally settling on The Aquila Group Inc.’s Dynamic Machine Management due to its tight integration with JetCAM Expert. In 2017, ASCO Power Technologies went live with DMM, with operators able to request nests on demand.

“Previously, operators might cherry-pick easier nests,” Hunley said. “Now we are driven by data. DMM knows what parts to make and the next machine available, so it will send the parts for dynamic nesting to JetCAM, with NC code then quickly being ready. This ensures that the machines are always busy. The partnership between Aquila and JetCAM was a seamless fit.”

Real-world scenarios also can be managed, with complex parts, such as louvers, handled using static nests.

“DMM allows us to work outside of the automated processes if we need to,” Hunley said. “It sees the order and knows that this requires an existing static JetCAM nest instead of a new dynamic one. Fully automating the nesting process freed up one person’s job by 95%. Now he just programs parts and oversees the DMM schedules.”

ASCO Power Technologies regularly has taken a maintenance contract and benefited from features in new releases. He said there has been a continual trend of improvement, especially with algorithms in the software.

“These have evolved over the years,” Hunley said. “Issues were uncommon to start with anyway, but now they are more of a rarity. The number of manual interactions is probably down by 80%.”

With a previous supplier, support was a major issue. Calls would go unanswered, and on one occasion the vendor denied support unless ASCO Power Technologies spent $60,000 to upgrade software despite already paying for maintenance. With JetCAM International, the support requirement has been significantly lower, and the quality of responses has been much higher.

“I cannot say enough about what JetCAM and their distributor NestOne bring to the table in terms of response time,” Hunley said. “We don’t need to call so often due to the level of automation, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe that any company would service their products better than JetCAM.”

When ASCO Power Technologies first received JetCAM Expert, training was provided by the machine tool vendor. Since then, new workers have been trained in-house by existing users or through short online sessions with NestOne Solutions’ technical staff. ASCO Power Technologies also takes advantage of JetCAM University, which has hundreds of brief videos online that detail specific features.

“Over the years,” Hunley said, “I’ve dealt with maybe six or seven other systems, and JetCAM is superior to all of them. To date, whenever we’ve purchased a new machine, we’ve just called NestOne for a post, which has always been available. As we move forward, any new machines that we purchase that can run JetCAM will be running JetCAM.”


For more information about JetCAM International SARL in Monaco, call +44 (0)870 760 6469 or visit www.jetcam.com.