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febrero 2, 2007

At Bélisle, programmers' productivity goes through the roof with WorkNC

Formed in 1997, Bélisle Industries in Québec, Canada has been manufacturing molds for the diecasting and plastic injection industries since 2003. The majority of its molds go to a sister company and are destined for use in the automotive, electrical, medical and telecommunications industries, and on recreational vehicles. The company provides a complete service, designing the molds and machining directly into hardened steel.

Competitive pressure and skilled labor shortage highlighted the shortcomings in Bélisle’s existing CAM software. It had heard about WorkNC and was impressed with the capabilities of the stock model and the rest material management within the software. Frédéric Jean, General Manager at Bélisle said, “Prior to installing WorkNC, re-machining with smaller tools had to be calculated by hand which was time consuming, unreliable, and very unsatisfactory for the hard materials being cut.” WorkNC includes dynamic stock management which automatically updates the material remaining after each machining operation. Using this information, the software knows exactly where excess material is situated, avoiding cutter overloads and air cutting. For hard material, keeping the tool engaged with the job eliminates shock loading, lengthens tool life, minimizes machining time and improves the quality of the finished part.

During the evaluation process, Bélisle also found that WorkNC could deliver some significant time savings with its ability to set up additional Workzones while the toolpath calculation was in progress. Frédéric Jean commented, “With the other systems we looked at, we found that it was virtually impossible to carry out further CNC programing tasks while they were calculating. WorkNC’s multitasking capability is a big boost to the productivity of our programmers.” The company had heard of WorkNC’s reputation for reliable toolpaths and was pleased to find it was well deserved. He continued, “Toolpaths are efficient and collision free. Calculation times are faster and the stock and rest models are a great improvement. The productivity of our programmers has gone through the roof. It is 200% to 300% better.” Bélisle takes full advantage of Sescoi’s software support and has benefited from the continual flow of software enhancements. Frédéric Jean said, “We have a good relationship with the support team, and have seen some of our suggestions implemented in new WorkNC releases.”

The toolpaths most commonly used by Bélisle are High Torque Roughing and Re-roughing, and Z Level and Optimized Z Level Machining. Utilizing these routines automatically cuts the majority of its cavities. Tool holder collision checking is also of vital importance. Frédéric Jean said, “It gives us absolute confidence in the toolpaths we create.” The company also makes use of the 2D feature recognition in WorkNC which, once configured, gives them good results by automatically machining holes. Confidence in the quality of the WorkNC toolpaths has had a positive influence on the shop floor, enabling the machine operators to manage two or three machines each, releasing people to carry out other tasks such as polishing, assembly and fitting.

The shop floor documentation generated by WorkNC is a major boon for the company. The HTML files have been customized to suit Bélisle’s individual requirements and have enabled it to save a significant amount of time and also avoid transposition errors, which occasionally occurred with its old, manually created paperwork. Frédéric Jean explained the evolution of his market, “Customers now expect far more from us for a project to be deemed successful. WorkNC has helped us to keep up with their demands and has generated a significant improvement in productivity.”

WorkNC sits well with Bélisle’s philosophy of achieving more with the same equipment. Workflow is improved by continuing to program during toolpath calculation; automatic documentation creation eliminates clerical errors; and reliable toolpaths have given its personnel the confidence to run several machines with one operator. Frédéric Jean concluded, “WorkNC suits our approach and fits well with our company business plan of achieving maximum metal removal rates.”

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