Consistency when it comes to producing golf industry mowers is just par for the course for Radan; so much so that manufacturer Ransomes Jacobsen (a Textron company (NYSE: TXT)) has been using the software for more than quarter of a century.
Mowers have been built at the Ipswich plant since the first one rolled off the fledgling production line in 1832. Today, around 20 different types of municipal and golfing mowers are produced there, retailing from £2,500 up to £60,000, mainly for golf courses around the world and for local councils. And Radan drives the Pullmax punch press, Messer plasma cutter and Bystronic lasers that manufacture them.
“With everything coming off the same baseline and stored as a symbol in Radan, it’s so easy to change from one type of cutting technology and machine manufacturer to another,” says manufacturing engineer Brian Richardson. “I can switch from the laser to the plasma in a matter of seconds.”
Having introduced Radan into Ransomes Jacobsen more than 25 years ago, he has used it constantly ever since, and says he would not be able to produce the 10,000 different components manufactured at the site without it. “I used to hand program machine tools, and Radan is the only software I know that will allow me to cater for our individual requirements that would otherwise need to be done by hand, because we can tailor it for our specific needs. Many of the components are particularly complex, and Radan handles every degree of complexity in its stride.”
He receives 3D models via an EDS Unigraphics design package that is standard throughout the company’s parent group, Textron. After the model is unfolded in Radan 3D, their other Radan modules – Radraft, Radnest, Radprofile and Radpunch – are used for geometry manipulation, enhanced nesting, and advanced CNC programming for the punching, laser and plasma machines.
Unfolding in Radan 3D is automatic and flexible. Capable of unfolding designs created in Radan 3D and models which Brian Richardson imports from other systems, it makes Ransomes Jacobsen’s flat blank development easy. Radraft meets all engineering drawing needs, and in addition, the full toolset performs other 2D geometry tasks in Radan, whether it be a drawing, a sheet metal profile in Radan 3D or a sheet metal part in Radpunch or Radprofile.
Radnest is an efficient nesting package that enhances both Radpunch and Radprofile. Incorporating fully generalised nesting that analyses the true shape of Ransomes Jacobsen’s components, Radnest can dramatically increase sheet utilisation and deliver substantial material cost savings. While Brian Richardson has noticed a marked saving on scrap metal with the new Radan nester which was introduced in the Radan 2010 R2 release, he expects to cut scrappage even further when he brings in RadbendCNC shortly. At the moment their press brakes have to be individually programmed manually on the shop floor. RadbendCNC will provide the same efficient machine programming for brake presses that Radprofile gives to their laser and plasma machines, and that Radpunch gives to the Pullmax.
Once Brian Richardson has produced a part on his PC and decided whether it is to be cut by punching, laser or plasma, it is saved in a symbol directory on a network drive. “My PC serves three other PCs in an office on the factory floor, giving them immediate access to the part. The machine operators get a list of the jobs they need to do and simply type in numbers to get the relevant information to enable them to carry out the nesting, generate the CNC codes and manufacture the parts.”
He says Radan is equally at home processing their normal production runs in HR4 and CR4 mild steel in thicknesses from 1mm to 60mm, as it is with the smaller amounts of stainless steel and aluminium that they use.
On the rare occasions they need to call the Radan helpdesk, he says he always gets the response he wants, and very quickly. “Our I.T. department says it is the most knowledgeable and helpful support service they use.”