London-based CloudNC (www.cloudnc.com
), which has the strap line ‘Making Machining Autonomous’ on its Web site, is introducing ‘disruptive technology’ into sub-contract manufacturing and aims to “change the face of the sector, with a series of manufacturing plants around the world”.
The company was founded in 2015 by Theo Saville (CEO) and Chris Emery (CTO).
Mr Saville said: “The concept of CloudNC came about while I was working in metal additive-manufacture research at WMG, where I became used to the simplicity of operating 3-D printers and increasingly frustrated with the total lack of automation in CNC machining.
"I met my co-founder Chris Emery shortly afterwards; he had assumed — like most people in industry — that CNC machines were already automatic.
"Four years and £11.5 million in venture capital funding later, we have a solution to the problem.”
The overall objective of CloudNC is to transform sub-contract manufacturing activities, drastically cutting the cost through the use of AI, advanced manufacturing processes and “industry-leading manufacturing culture”.
The company has opened a manufacturing plant in Chelmsford, which it says is already delivering on that promise.
Mr Saville said: “We are leveraging our software to produce components to aerospace-grade quality at breakthrough prices. Reduced cycle times and a total lack of CAM programming costs are just part of the picture.
“We are building advanced software to automate and streamline all aspects of the precision manufacturing process, from RFQ right through to dispatch.
“The software developed by CloudNC requires only information on the part geometry, tolerances, machine parameters and available tools.
"It then goes through an extremely rapid iterative process, using the vast computational powers available in the cloud to evaluate millions of possible machining methods before automatically selecting from the fastest and most efficient achievable with that specific equipment and tooling.”
Mr Saville added that the quality improvements, along with cost and efficiency savings, offered by CloudNC are further enhanced by its business model and manufacturing process.
“Our first plant — Factory 1 — has been designed to take full advantage of the latest Industry 4.0 technologies and approaches, and it is on a rapid technology-adoption curve to employ the most efficient and highly automated production techniques.
"From ordering and customer relationship management to resource planning, inspection, delivery and after-sales service, customers can expect transparent and highly automated efficiency as standard.”
Fast and efficient
Central to its vision of offering faster and more cost-effective sub-contract manufacturing services around the world, CloudNC employs “the very best human and machine potential available”.
This includes the selection of machine tool partners capable of delivering the thousands of machines it anticipates installing.
Mr Saville said: “We identified DMG Mori as a company capable of manufacturing and delivering the volume of machines we will require.
"It has an international presence and a support and service network that will match our expansion plans, regardless of where we go. We are ISO 9001:2015-certified and primarily serve defence, oil and gas, medical and motor-sports, although we have manufactured components for almost every ‘vertical’ at this point.
"Aerospace will come on completion of our BSI AS9100 accreditation in a couple of months.”
CloudNC has chosen the DMU 50, 60 EVO and DMU 95 Monoblock machines (www.dmgmori.com
) as the basis for this project.
Mr Saville said: “We are planning to have at least three factories within two years and many more following that, as we undertake international expansion plans.
"Factory 1 is a testing ground for the machines, their configuration, our software and our methods. We will then replicate the best solutions at our future manufacturing plants.
“Factories with tens of thousands of machines already exist in China. We aim to be able to have this type of capacity but with fully automated systems complementing our breakthrough CNC programming capability.
"Our approach will use automation to remove dirty, dangerous and repetitive tasks, allowing our highly skilled workforce to focus on where humans are still best — problem solving, lateral thinking and adaptive reasoning.
“We are hiring the most able people from within the industry and providing an environment in which they can thrive.”