17 November 2007

Radan meet defence market demands

Aish Technologies based in Poole, Dorset, specialises in the design and manufacture of multi-function and dual display consoles which are fitted to most British and many foreign naval platforms. The company's sheet metal department is the cornerstone of its manufacturing ability, and the use of Radbend CNC from Radan has been key to a decrease in lead times by as much as 25% in fabrication development.

"With 80% of what we manufacture starting out as sheet metal, fast production set-up and machine efficiency is critical," explains project engineer Jon Beeching. "The beauty of the Radbend software is that it puts the control back into the hands of pre-production, thereby reducing machine redundancy and maximising profitability."

Radan software (Radraft and Radpunch) was first introduced at Aish in 1997 with the installation of a 45-turret Amada machine, because "it was considered to be the market-leading solution and we knew that the benefits would far outweigh the cost," says Beeching. "Ease of use, increased sheet utilisation and the ability to integrate third party software and create flat plan geometry from 3D, really sold it to us."

Aish upgraded its machine shop again in 2004, adding more capacity to its CNC line-up of Amada press brakes with a Trumpf laser/punch combination machine and the new V1300X brake press.

"Our purchase of a Trumpf V1300 brake press was a good time to call Radan back in to talk about Radbend CNC," says Beeching. "It allows us to do everything we want and really proves itself when we are working on projects for the MoD as they require a trial form before going into full production. Many of the ruggedised enclosures we design and manufacture for them are mission critical, able to function under severe combat conditions – so quality is paramount."

Radbend CNC allows Aish to carry out all the programming for the press brake from the design office, enabling the machine to be in constant use. With full 3D model simulation, bending operations can be programmed and verified, improving reliability of finished parts, which in turn greatly reduces manufacturing costs. With the Trumpf T6000L, for example, the company has seen sheet utilisation increasing by at least 25% – a huge saving.

In the drawing office, real flat part information is taken directly from customers' DXF and DWG files and a folding program is then generated with any additional information such as bend angles and allowances. The geometry is created including associated tooling and the programme setup sheets issued to the shopfloor where the program is loaded into the machine through the DNC link.

"The simple process enables us to produce quite complex shapes with relatively minimal effort," explains Beeching. "We had one job recently involving a fabricated console housing four flat screens for the Navy which had numerous compound angles. We were able to import the 3D solid model from ProEngineer, add ‘skins' to the shape, assign materials and thickness and gradually build up the fabrication. Different tolerances were involved to fit the flat screens – a potentially laborious job made easy with the use of Radan 3D.

"When it comes to fabrication, the software is excellent for visualising the cut and weld lines, giving you more choices of where and how to bend or cut before manufacturing a part. The installation of Radbend CNC is a key element of our lean manufacturing programme in the way it minimises production of trial fold pieces."

Some of Aish's customers such as British Aerospace are now designing parts that can be imported straight into Radan, which reduces the manufacturing time even further – underlining the importance of the software to the company's project management capabilities in meeting exacting requirements.

"Increasingly our customers are demanding shorter and shorter timescales and require a very fast turnaround," says Beeching. "We were able to get some brackets for another customer out of the door on the same day they sent their design – directly into Radan. They were delighted and so were we!"

With sustained investment in technology including the use of lean manufacturing techniques to offer a one stop shop approach, Aish plans to add another two licences of Radan 3D and another one each of Radpunch and Radprofile to its sheet metal capability.

Contact: Trevor Glue

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