A manufacturer of high integrity, high precision components, has highlighted to its major clients how vital the market-leading Edgecam CNC machining software is to its business.
As part of a presentation to Rolls Royce and Babcock about its Twenty First Century Supply Chain (SC21) processes, Nottinghamshire-based Swiftool Precision Engineering showed how it uses Edgecam to handle components from order to completion.
Managing Director Stuart Handley (pictured right) says as an SC21 company, Swiftool committed to achieving a revised working culture to improve efficiency and reduce costs in the supply chain, focussing on accreditation, development and performance.
“Our Continual Sustainable Improvement Plan showed we needed to reduce machine set up times on the shop floor. We had operators using a number of systems including G-Code programming and Edgecam. When we moved to our new factory we set up a dedicated offline programming department.”
And he says Edgecam was the natural choice for their standardised CNC system. “Previously we had several occasions when a job would be programmed in G-Code on a Hardinge, and the next time that job came in the Hardinge was in use, so we had to reprogram the job again on a Haas.
“But with Edgecam we only have to produce a CNC program once and it can be post processed to any machine we wish.” Swiftool has a variety of 4-axis milling machines and a mix of 2- and 3-axis lathes -- machines with live tooling that can turn and mill – and a wire eroder. They are all driven by Edgecam, and are from a number of manufacturers, including Takisawa, Nakamura, Mazak, Haas, Hardinge, Elgamill and Charmilles. And the latest addition to their stable is an 11 pallet horizontal Matsuura.
CNC programming supervisor Jon Hayle says when he moved to Swiftool they were programming manually, online, on the machines. “I had used Edgecam in my previous job, and I chose it to take us forward here. We now use Edgecam Part Modeler, 4-axis strategies, and the mill/turn module. The fact that we can use a 4-axis simultaneous program instead of programming four features on four faces, one at a time, is extremely beneficial.”
He says some complex components could take two to three weeks to program manually, but using Edgecam saves 90% of that time. “If I receive a basic 2D drawing from the customer I model the part using Part Modeler. If it requires 4-axis milling Edgecam enables us to mill from all four faces on the component at once. Before Edgecam, we had to target one face at a time. Now we’ve got total consistency, using toolpaths created by the geometry on Part Modeler, and Edgecam’s simulator enables us to see any wrong moves or collisions at a glance before we start production.
“Edgecam is a massive tool which gives us total control over inputting and outputting programs to the machines.”
Stuart Handley says creating the programming department when they moved to their new factory in the summer of 2010 was a radical change. “But being able to post process an Edgecam program to any machine on the shop floor is much better for us. It saves us so much time. The fact that Edgecam can drive all manufacturers’ machines across the full range of cutting technologies is absolutely vital for our shop floor efficiency.”
He was so impressed with Edgecam that he featured it in SC21 presentations to a customer of 30 years standing, Rolls Royce -- and one of their newest customers, Babcock. The presentation included a number of slides featuring Edgecam screens, showing how Swiftool processes a component from order to completion using Edgecam. “It shows how the parts are modelled, how the toolpath is created, how it’s all checked to make sure everything works, the set-up sheets, and then how it goes back to the office as Proven.”
Swiftool produces parts on a made-to-order basis, often backed up by long term agreements, for the aerospace, defence, nuclear and oil and gas industries, and has experienced growth of at least 25% per year since 2002, even managing 34% at the height of the recession in 2009. The new factory will support further growth aided by Edgecam streamlining production, and has already started to attract the attention of potential new customers.
Currently the family business, which was founded in 1977, has 55 employees, but this is expected to almost double over the next few years to accommodate the forecast growth. “We have built our reputation on quality and precision, and we’re a supplier that customers want to grow with,” says Stuart Handley. “We have a number of long term agreements, and have recently signed a new five-year agreement to supply Rolls Royce Power Engineering PLC with more than 470 line items.”