find out more at greg king independent cnc programmer
Greg King’s engineering career is
proof that taking initiative and being
a self-starter, two of the key strategies
used by successful engineers, really do
work. In his three years as a programmer
and manufacturing engineer at Rittal. a
manufacturer of industrial enclosures, he
has used these strategies to help expand
the company’s business and bottom line
while at the same time furthering his own
career. Trained as a tool and model
maker, King took advantage of a previous
employer’s offer of CNC training, a skill
he now employs at his current job.
Soon after he started at Rittal: King
became interested in computer bulletin
boards and educated himself in the
nuances of modems. file transfer protocols,
and network technology. Applying his
new-found knowledge to his firm’s
business procedures, King suggested a
bulletin board service would improve
customer communication, a major
ingredient in today’s quality systems.
“Before this, we had problems when
customers modified designs. Information
would get garbled as we passed it back and
forth,” he says. “Now customers download
information directly from us, change what
they need, and transfer it back. It’s quicker.
more accurate, and our customers seem to
King also combined initiative and selfmanagement,
and used his knowledge of
computers: in improving a small
computer network used by the
engineering department. His idea: take it
one step farther by hooking into
computers on the factory floor. Now
workers can look at new designs or
changes as soon as they are available.
Both incidents illustrate what King
believes is key to success in engineering:
Become an expert in some area critical to
your company. In his case, it was
computers and, more specifically,
computer-aid manufacturing. He’s
become a somewhat of an expert in the
SmartCAM software Rittal uses for its
machines. This expertise bailed his
company out of a jam when it was
interested in buying a $2-million punch
and forming machine. The machine
maker said its awn software was the only
way to run it. With a little time and effort,
King got the machine to perform perfectly
with SmartCAM, saving his employer
monev and streamlining manufacturing
under one CAM package.
King also uses networking, along with
persistence. “If I don’t have the answer. 1’11
talk to someone who does. whether that’s
someone on the shop floor or a senior
engineer. And if there isn’t anyone around
with the answer, I’ll get directions to where
I can find it.” It was this kind of thinking
that led him to strike up a relationship with
the software engineer who writes the
fabrication section of SmartCAM. “He’s
given me several good tips and pointers on
programming,” notes King.
He also makes good use of his
networking skills on the shop floor. ”I
make it a point to talk to machine
operators to find out what I can do to
make their jobs easier.” he explains.
During one such talk, an operator pointed
out that despite what was written in a
manual, tool changes could take place
while the tool was moving though a
certain area, the dead zone. With that
information. King reprogrammed the
machine to cut its cycle time, saving the
company time and money.
Teamwork and organizational savvy
have played a part in King’s career climb.
As part of Rittal’s improvement program,
King submits ideas for cost savings, and
he easily meets the annual goal of saving
the company at least his salary by
implementing his ideas. His record of cost
savings landed King at the head of the
cost reduction committee, an employee
group that reviews suggestions for cutting
costs. better safety. and improving work
conditions. King’s team saves the
company more than $250,000/yr and
It takes more than
Finding a flexible software solution really tests a manufacturer averaging 250 new or revised CNC programs per month, espe-
cially when faster customer delivery demands and product pricing pressures are thrown in the mix. Just ask Rittal Corporation (Springfield, OH), a manufacturer of enclosures and accessories for the industrial, electronic and telecommunication industries. The company’s wide range of CNC equipment routinely requires new and revised programs to keep pace with changing needs. Rittal originally met these needs by using SmartCam to program several CNC machines. But after several acquisitions in the mid-
90s, the successful software package lost its market status. COUNTLESS CONSTRAINTS
Rittal then purchased new programming software for its grow-
ing inventory of CNC machinery. But according to manufactur-
ing engineer Greg King, “the software initially reduced program-
ming time, but it was extremely dependent on high-quality CAD, DXF or IGS files, and limited any modifications after parts were tooled. Once parts were nested on a sheet, I couldn’t change tooling or any part of the nest. I had to re-tool the part and nest the entire sheet again.”
Cycle times actually increased. Even worse, Rittal totally depended on the software supplier to make changes to its CAM software. “If a seat was punched out incorrectly because of an improper tool, or if I wanted to tool a part differently, I had to wait on the software company to make changes,” says King. The largest enclosure manufacturer in the world, Rittal offers over 13,000 different enclosure products that routinely require new and revised CNC programs.
Tool paths are optimized to meet various machine requirements.
MANUFACTURING ENGINEERS WANT FLEXIBLE CNC PROGRAMMING SOFTWARE FOR ONE REASON – CONTROL! QUICK REACTION TO PROBLEMS ON THE SHOP FLOOR DEMANDS IMMEDIATE PROGRAM CHANGES. WAITING ON SOFTWARE SUPPLIERS TO MAKE MODIFICATIONS IS A LIMITATION OF THE PAST.
As Seen In
A NEW FOUND FREEDOM
So Rittal purchased WE-CIM, a software package developed by Wittlock Engineering (Cullman, AL), for its nesting functionality, user-friendly design and flexibility. Its Java programming language enables changes on demand. “Java is easier to use because of the limitless information on the Internet about it,” states King. “I’m no longer dependent on the software supplier. I simply enter WE-CIM, change a specific tool at a specific point, and output code immediately.
Our operators can start immediately. I also write macros to reduce programming time. I even nested on our Salvagninis, something
that was previously impossible.”
FLEXIBILITY = PRODUCTIVITY
Rittal compared WE-CIM and its previous software by evaluating two orders processed on its Trumpf 600L combination punch-and-laser.
WE-CIM saved approximately $5,000 on the first order for 270 cabinets. Material yield improved and the machine cycle time shortened by 22.5 hours on the Trumpf 600L and TC500. The second
order for 37 units saved $1,200 as the cycle time dropped by seven hours.
This justified purchasing a second seat. Dropping the maintenance
fees of former software solutions covered the cost. The second
seat was highly desired when Rittal needed to reduce its raw material from 600+ blanks to less than 50. Almost every machine program needed modifying to nest on (or trim from) one of the new blanks.
“The ability to output the special codes required by the Salvagnini P4 and S4 lessens the challenge,” remarks King. “Before coding the nests, simple menu changes correctly output to the machine, eliminating the need to make further modifications to the code.”
WE-CIM now runs an Ideal spot welder to easily output
code for multiple offsets and adapt to new code requirements, and a Burny 10 plasma drill and tap machine to output code with better
unload position based on part size. The software also produces programs for a programmable die that feeds a roll forming line. Custom tool graphics allow programmers to “see” the punch pattern
of the machine. By reducing total moves and punch hits, WE-CIM shaved more than two seconds off the cycle time per part to save more than $5,000 per year.
P.O. Box 1765
Cullman, AL 35056
Rittal Corporation, One Rittal Place, Springfield, OH, 45504, 937-399-0500, http://www.ritalcorp.com
Trumpf, Inc., 111 Hyde Road, Farmington, CT, 06032,
Salvagnini America, Inc., 27 Bicentennial Court, Hamilton, OH 45015, 513-874-8284, http://www.salvagnini.com
Billco Manufacturing Inc., 100 Grandview Boulevard, Zelienople,