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Assessing the Current Process

The addition of a Fiber laser cutting machine into a sheet metal fabrication process requires a re-assessment of the current front-end fabricating processes. You now have a cutting tool that can produce 2 to 4 times more parts per unit of time, so naturally all of the supporting systems will feel the effects both before and after the Fiber laser process. Understanding this dynamic will help to eliminate potential bottlenecks in your fabrication process.

Since most small companies typically have one shift of front office staff, it becomes even more critical to automate the front-end processes to maintain the workflow to the fiber laser. This is especially true when the Fiber laser operates on multiple shifts. Automating the front-end processes (those that involve order entry, scheduling, material planning and inventory, engineering and programming) is critical to maintaining consistency in operations, especially in a multi-shift operation.

Automating the Process

Many companies employ some sort of order management system and or ERP system to manage their production. The question is how quickly can an order be translated into a job ready to be processed? This is often a bottleneck as the fiber laser is able to produce parts faster than they can be queued in the production pipeline. Once jobs have been released to production, the nesting software needs to create the programs ready to process on the fiber laser. Automating this process is the key to consistency and ensuring that the Fiber laser is always cutting rather than waiting for programs.

Utilizing an order management system maximizes the selection of parts and distributes all the orders that have been released by the ERP system efficiently to the various cutting plans based on material type, thickness and due dates. If the single part program does not exist, then the DXF of the part is identified and automatically converted to a single part program.

Reducing Material Costs

In addition to creating timely nests, programming systems must also consider material utilization as this is a key element in the overall cost per part. Cutting plans can be automatically released to the machines based on achieving required material yields. This leads to more parts per sheet and better material utilization. By combining orders into like materials and thickness, better yields can be achieved due to the higher volume of parts and their differing geometries. The triggering of a nest can be delayed until the clearly defined, latest possible point in time while still guaranteeing due dates.

The benefit of a system for managing orders is that it is always working 24/7; jobs are created just as quickly as they are released by the ERP system. Nests are created automatically based on job due dates and released to the fiber laser cutting machine only upon achieving the required material utilization.

Additional related content: http://blog.bystronicusa.com/addressing-the-metal-fabricating-bottlenecks/

 

By Frank Arteaga, Head of Product Marketing, NAFTA Region
Bystronic Inc., Elgin, IL – Voice.bystronic@bystronic.com