Emerging Technologies

Innovative tools of the trade 

By Daren Maynard

Manufacturing precision and quality

Eliminating waste and meeting quality standards are paramount to organizational success in manufacturing. Industrial engineers often use computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacturing and statistical process control to optimize production, and Cadtek’s SolidCAM iMachining module for CAD/CAM and Hetzler Systems’ GainSeeker Suite Version 8.3 SPC software help deliver results.

CAD/CAM applications have been a blessing for their consistent accuracy in improving tool manufacturing and milling. Cadtek Systems Ltd. iMachining module functions as a standalone program or as an add-on to the Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks software programs.

The iMachining’s tool path features include morphing spirals, moating and smart repositioning, which reduce the tool-in-cut time and vibrations. The iMachining Technology Wizard helps computer numerical control operations produce optimal feeds and speeds, taking into account the tool path, stock and tool material and machine specifications. This intuitive wizard incorporates the iMachining level slider that lessens common machining issues such as rigidity (spindle and fixture) and tool extension.

Algorithm programming gives iMachining the ability to handle complex 3-D parts. The Technology Wizard also handles rough and rest rough cutting settings to reduce cycle time. Maintaining process quality standards within preset limits is an important goal for any manufacturer. GainSeeker Suite version 8.3 aims to make statistical process control easier for everyone, from the executive to the machine operator.

The software allows users to collect data using a PC or mobile device. It maintains the integrity of the inspection process by replicating the inspection procedures virtually while eliminating paper. With the Drill-down Wizard, defect cost tracking is easier as it relates to product, line, shift, operator or other factors, which influence the costs of individual defect or nonconforming units. Environmental tracking information can be collected in the suite and displayed on a dashboard, which helps in meeting compliance requirements for environmental standards in real time.

Collecting data from the manufacturing process for future analytics is made easier by the various wizards, graphs and interactive dashboards. One of the newest features is the OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) charts. The OEE metric is a utilization indicator of the percentage of planned production time that is being fully used in producing first-pass yields. This indicator, when replicated on charts, lets the manufacturing team know when the production is on point and when production is suffering from poor performance.

This gives the team the information necessary to schedule more planned maintenance to improve machine reliability. And making OEE data available to the shop floor encourages ownership of quality by the machine operators.

Daren Maynard is the portfolio management lead for Novus Tech Limited and F1RST Media Limited in Trinidad and Tobago. He has an M.S. in program and project management and a B.S. in industrial engineering. He is a member of IIE’s Young Professionals group.

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