Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

On the Job: Toolmaker Avoids Machinings Common Collision Course

13 Oct, 2005 Cadalyst

Seco improves performance by moving from CAD to NX CAM

Automated machining centers and lathes are great providers of accuracy and job speed -- until collisions occur between work piece and tooling. Although no major disaster to a business, over the course of a month or a year, a series of collisions during a job can add up to a lot of lost production time.

Seco Tools is very competitive in the cutting tool industry, each year supplying clients such as Dana Axle, Warman, and BA Systems; various others in railway, mining and aerospace; and those in mold and die production.

The Move to CAM
A long-time user of CAD software, Seco opted for a move to CAM technology to reduce the possibility of trouble spots on its machining centers. The company chose UGS' NX CAM, provided by plm (Product Lifecycle Management Australasia), a distributor of UGS PLM solutions in Australia and New Zealand. Seco also saw that CAM could speed up productivity on the workshop floor.

NX CAM is designed for manufacturers needing a CAM-specific solution and offers benefits both as an element of a standalone UGS CAD/CAM solution or in a multi-CAD environment where data may come from a variety of CAD sources. Automation techniques enable preferred processes to be followed for each type of operation or product, which makes the system more productive and leads to consistent, higher-quality results. Working directly from the features defined in CAD model geometry with a high degree of associativity means design information can be utilized directly in the manufacturing process.

NX CAM digitally tests merging components on a high-speed lathe to gauge accuracy of a proposed job.

Technical manager Dean Townsend says Seco Tools took on CAM software as part of a national group standardization. "We were only using CAD software but wanted to unify and use CAM to give us that direct digital step from design to manufacturing, basically bypassing that CAD step."

Easy Transition
"Originally," Townsend explains, "we thought NX CAM may be a difficult program to which we had to adjust, but it is generally quite easy to use, especially after the training we received from plm. We were put through a 'rapid start' CAM course inclusive of postprocessing. The ease of use was apparent as early as day three, when the programmer was effortlessly making parts on the machine and in the way he wanted to machine them," Townsend says.

"The digital design environment is crucial to our productivity, as the commercial pressure is always on to manufacture special tooling for the cutting industry through a multinational Seco Tools organization, but we also specialize in specific solutions as they arise."

Seco Tools Australia specializes in customized cutting tools and with NX CAM and a custom 5-axis post written by plm. The company is able to manufacture complex cutting tools to customer requirements in a minimal amount of time with great accuracy, precision and repeatability.

"Efficiency level with NX CAM is quite high," Townsend says. "Over just one daily shift, one user of the CAM software will generally speed up jobs.

A boring process in the digital environment of NX CAM enables more efficient component use.

"It is the software's high level of visualization that provides the critical element during our design phase," Townsend continues. "Essentially, with this bypassing of what was formerly our CAD process, we are able to make sure there are no collisions on our production line before we actually go onto the machine."