Updated CAM software slashes machine set-up time

Posted on 18 Feb 2019 and read 994 times
Updated CAM software slashes machine set-up timeVOH SA, a Swiss company serving the micro-technology industry — including Swiss watch-makers — has improved production by updating its Alphacam CAD/CAM software (www.alphacam.com).

The company says the main focus of its products and services is the “management of quality through adapted production equipment and innovative control systems”.

Bastien Zbinden, who is responsible for the machining team, said: “Watch-making is our main sector, our source of inspiration, and the origin of our development.”

Single watch movement holders are included in the wide range of tools and parts that VOH makes for the watch-making industry, along with manual tools such as precision screwdrivers.

For other industrial sectors, the company produces complex metrology and quality control machines, as well as ‘furniture accessories’ such as ‘mechanical armrests’.

When Mr Zbinden joined the company, he was tasked with improving the organisation of the workshop and increasing productivity on the company’s CNC machine tools, which included two five-axis milling machines, three three-axis mills, a twin-spindle single-turret lathe, a two-axis lathe and three Swiss-type lathes.

VOH is a long-standing user of Alphacam, having been a customer of the software’s Swiss distributor MW Programmation for many years.

The company decided to update Alphacam, along with a number of associated tools.

Mr Zbinden said: “We embarked on this course of action because when we were running an old program to reproduce parts, it was a time-consuming task for the operator to gather all the necessary information to prepare the set-up on the machine tool.

"The programs were poorly listed, the latest version of the drawing was difficult to identify, and we couldn’t tell if the previous production run had been as efficient as it could be.

"In short, there were a lot of hazards in production, and we sometimes had trouble re-machining past batches; even for repeat orders, everything was frequently re-created anew.”

Small batch production

He also discovered another hindrance to efficient production — the fact that VOH is increasingly undertaking small batches of parts that require considerable set-up time on the machines.

Mr Zbinden liaised with MW Programmation, and together they evaluated the situation.

This resulted in a software update and adapting post-processors for the different machines.

“MW Programmation also proposed a ‘File Manager’ module, in order to group the programs, the NC codes and all related documents together in the same database. Personalised documentation has also been created to complete the information for the machine set-up.”

He says that these new tools have considerably improved the organisation of the workshop and increased production efficiency.

"When I create a new program, it is now possible to attach the clamps and tool images along with any other photos, giving us a manufacturing file that is ultra-flexible and provides easy set-up.”

Mr Zbinden says he can now simply search for the drawing numbers in the File Manager module and retrieve them easily.

“Then I just need to print the personalised document, and I have all the information I need for the job on one page.

"It is a much easier way of starting the machine set-ups; and as a result, there are far fewer programming issues. We have optimised the use of our Alphacam software to make it an even more powerful tool.

"As a result, productivity has dramatically increased, and our operators and programmers appreciate this new way of working.”

Alexandre Mercier, who is responsible for VOH’s bar-turning team, says: “The post-processor is perfect. We don’t modify anything manually in the NC code; and if necessary, we can request modifications from the MW Programmation support team.”

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