Maximising machine capability

CAD/CAM and logistics software helps Greenfield compete with overseas companies

Posted on 29 Jun 2017 and read 1791 times
Maximising machine capabilityBased at Holsworthy (near the North Devon coast), Greenfield Engineering has the latest machine tools — plus the latest software to ensure that it maximise the machines’ capabilities.

The company currently operates from two sites, totalling 45,000ft2; it is also acquiring an additional 6,000ft2 factory as part of a £1 million investment programme.

A recently installed Amada EM 3610ZRB punch press with automated load/unload and part picking brings Greenfield’s CNC machine tool tally to three punch presses and an Amada EML 3610NT 4kW punch/laser combination machine configured for 24hr production.

The market sectors served by Greenfield include office furniture, electronic enclosures, point of sale, lighting and vending, with customers including well-known names such as Herman Miller (office furniture) and Bisley (filing cabinets). Contracts range from producing basic individual components right through to fully assembled and packaged finished products.

Managing director Gary Burnard, who worked his way ‘up through the ranks’ from starting as an apprentice at Greenfield, says all components are processed by the company’s five ‘seats’ of Radan’s 3-D and 2-D design solutions, as well as Radnest, Radpunch and Radcombi (

“The nesting module is absolutely crucial in ensuring that the products are designed and manufactured correctly, and that we have the highest material utilisation and lowest run times.

“Steel prices are extremely volatile at the moment, so every little percentage that we can save is passed on to our customers. We currently have four engineers using Radan for 3-D design and development, along with two full-time programmers on the day shift and a third programmer on the night shift.”

Building a future

Greenfield operates a comprehensive apprenticeship scheme, with 16 apprentices; most are working towards the Level-3 qualification, with some at Level-2 — and the company recruits more each summer.

“As manufacturing is not a major sector in Devon, it’s hard to find people with the skills we need, so we train them ourselves to become the engineers of the future,” says Mr Burnard.

“Apprentices are rotated through the entire business during their first two years, and they are introduced to Radan while learning design and programming. They pick it up so easily; it is very intuitive, easy to learn and easy to remember.”

Greenfield is also pioneering the use of Radan’s suite of logistics software in the UK. “It allows us to take the raw demand from our ERP/MRP system and manage it in a number of ways.

In particular, the Order Manager and Material Manager functions help us interpret what needs to be done in the factory in a more efficient way.

“We first saw the logistics package — not yet generally available in the UK — at the Euroblech exhibition in Germany. It has been developed specifically for sheet metal equipment and recognises exactly what companies in sheet metal manufacturing need.

“We can take a number of components and put them together for a particular machining process, paint colour or target date, rather than group them for a single job. This increases our ability to plan, allowing us to be as agile, flexible and competitive as possible.

“Moreover, the project nesting complements the logistics suite perfectly, allowing us to select parts from different jobs and different customers, then nest them together for best sheet utilisation.”

In conclusion, Mr Burnard says: “Radan is clearly a forward-thinking company with products that ensure manufacturers become considerably more efficient and competitive.

“Most CNC software is designed simply to drive machines, but Radan is much more business-focused and looks at the bigger picture.”

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