Asset finance sales academy

Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing is announcing the return of its Sales Academy, which is designed to attract new and diverse talent into the sector. Now in its third iteration, the company is looking to recruit 10 new sales trainees across the UK who will specialise in one of a number of sectors. The academy provides full and intensive training, comprising classroom-based learning, mentoring and practical ‘on-the-job’ training. Following their training period, successful applicants will concentrate on building a customer base, territory and business plan, with full assistance from a mentor.

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CAM system on-point for subcontractor

Founded in 1995, Point CNC has provided a high quality and flexible CNC machining service to customers in the medical, aerospace, surveillance and automotive sectors since it opened its doors for business. The evolution of the company down the years has seen the manufacturer invest in high-end machine tools from YMT and CAM software from Open Mind Technologies.

Based in Sevenoaks, Point CNC produces components and sub-assemblies for high-precision surveillance and ANPR camera systems in use by police forces, security agencies and rescue services, as well as high-technology parts for the motorsport and specialist road-car sectors.
With the ever-increasing complexity of components, Point CNC has invested in hyperMILL from Open Mind, a CAM solution for five-axis machining. The ISO9001-accredited subcontract manufacturer has been growing at a rapid rate in recent years, consolidating several facilities by bringing them into one large factory that houses all of the company’s 20 CNC machine tools.

“We are implementing more automation to maximise our output and undertaking more automotive, audio and MoD work at present,” says Joseph Goldsmith, CADCAM programmer at Point CNC.

Referring to the implementation of CAM software from Open Mind Technologies, Goldsmith states: “When I first came here, we were using different software and I had come from a hyperMILL background. The software we had was nowhere near as good as hyperMILL, so I put my case forward to the directors of the business, highlighting that our current growth rate and the turnaround requirements from customers meant we needed to be adopting hyperMILL.”

With a well-made case and business leadership that is always striving to enhance its capabilities, service and performance, the company invested in the hyperMILL CAM system.
“The facility to use things such as the tool library in hyperMILL and to teach our apprentices all the cutting speeds and feeds in a simplified format to build their confidence, has been invaluable,” says Goldsmith. “hyperMILL helps to give the apprentices a good grounding in every-day processes. Additionally, skilled engineers do not have to watch the apprentices all the time, giving our younger employees the responsibility and confidence to evolve.”

Alluding to some of the savings that hyperMILL has generated, Goldsmith says: “Another advantage with the tool library is that it will calculate and optimise all of our speeds and feeds. Once the information has been entered, the speeds and feeds calculated by hyperMILL determine how hard we can be hitting the workpieces. It really has accelerated our programming. By reprogramming existing components in hyperMILL we’ve shaved a lot of time from our processes.”

He adds: “Essentially, we can input tool data from the cutting-tool manufacturer into hyperMILL and it will crunch the numbers and push the machining strategy to its limits. Every time I program hyperMILL I generally think we won’t get away with running at such extremely high speeds and feeds, but we do. It works without fail. On one of the first jobs where I really pushed hyperMILL, it was probably running 20% faster than I would have liked. In fact, it was running so fast there was steam coming off the chips and evaporating out of the machine. It really is helping these machines achieve what they are made to do.”

Referring to how hyperMILL helps to conserve tool life, Goldsmith says: “There are a lot of different factors in play here. For example, the benefits depend upon the type of tooling and what materials you are cutting, but hyperMILL goes a long way to helping with things like that. It creates greater tool engagement, which improves material removal rates, cycle times and tool life.

“Since coming to this company and helping migrate to hyperMILL, cycle times have improved by at least 20% and programming times have improved even further,” continues Goldsmith. “I can program jobs significantly faster as the previous software didn’t have all the facilities and tools I needed to do the job. This is especially the case with 3D work; the previous CAM system just wasn’t capable of doing what we needed.”

From a collision avoidance and security perspective, Goldsmith states: “One of the beautiful things about hyperMILL is that when we are putting all of our models together, we can build up a library of all our machine tools, fixtures, vices, chucks and cutting tools. We can put all of this information into the system and it will give us a 100% accurate picture of what is going to happen before we push the button. This allows us to avoid collisions and highlight things we might have missed.”

With three seats of hyperMILL and a significant investment in CNC machining and turning centres, Goldsmith alludes to the capabilities of hyperMILL with regards to the company’s turning activities, saying: “hyperMILL has had a major impact on our turning operations. Basically, it’s now allowing other people to undertake programming tasks. Before, all the programming for turning was done on CNC consoles on the shop floor. This is very time consuming and, during programming, the machines are not running or making any money. Now that we have hyperMILL we can program all of the turning in the office while the machine is running. After offline programming we just pop the program into the machine, run it through to make sure it works and we’re good to go. This has drastically reduced non-cutting times in the CNC turning department by virtually eliminating on-machine programming.”

Asked if the software is as important as hardware when investing, Goldsmith concludes: “I believe that software is an equally important investment as the hardware. hyperMILL demonstrates this with its significant savings, which are being created both in the programming office and on the shop floor.”

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Partner for digital factory

Since 2015 KAMPF Schneid- und Wickeltechnik GmbH & Co KG has been rapidly accelerating its integral digitisation. While the company initially focused its efforts in this direction on products and services, it is now equipping its production plants for the era of Industry 4.0 through its close innovation partnership with DMG Mori.

The KAMPF production site in Dohr clearly demonstrates the status of the digital innovation process. Here, DMG Mori ‘Planning Solutions’ has been in use for several months. “This has made us more efficient and flexible and, with a 30% reduction in throughput times, we can respond faster,” says Dr Stephan Witt, head of engineering & material management.

KAMPF has now initiated entry into its next evolutionary stage of digitisation with the installation of a CTV 250 vertical turning centre from DMG Mori.

“The result is greater integration and interaction between the office and shop floor, or rather between planning, machine tools and our employees,” explains Marc Jobelius, plant manager.

Thanks to the ‘Job Import’ function, the operator can import job orders directly from ‘Production Planning’ into the CELOS system and start processing immediately. Also, PDA information can now feed directly from the CELOS application connector.

In another joint KAMPF/DMG Mori pilot project, ‘real’ data from the shop floor is now being recorded in ‘Production Feedback’ and written into a central database via an integration layer. This will ultimately result in an extensive data pool from which realistic projected figures for previously unknown work steps will be calculated using algorithmic pattern-matching before transfer to new planning processes.

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Medical work offsets shortfall

Based in Eastwood, near Nottingham, Trust Precision has become a leading Midlands provider of sliding-head turn-milled components. In 2011, managing director Nick Street acquired his first Citizen sliding-head machine, a Cincom M32-VIII model, which was fitted with a pneumatic guide bush that improves the machine’s ability to accept bar stock of variable quality and extends bar capacity from 32 to 35 mm diameter.

“With B-axis movement of one of the tool carriers and a total of nine cutters facing the sub-spindle, the machine was at the time more advanced than most other lathes on the market,” he says.

The machine proved ideal and there are now six similarly equipped models operating around the clock at the Eastwood facility, lights-out overnight. All are fitted with 130 bar high-pressure coolant and a 3.6-m bar magazine. The latest M32 addition, plus a 20 mm bar capacity Citizen L20-XII with programmable B axis and low-frequency vibration (LFV) chip-breaking software, arrived in January 2020.

Until the pandemic took hold in early 2020, aerospace contracts accounted for up to 60% of turnover, but the proportion is more like one-third of that now. New business from the medical industry offsets the current shortfall in commercial aerospace work due to Covid-19.
Fortuitously, the presence on the shop floor of the L20-XIILFV meant that its superior chip-breaking ability could provide more efficient turning of medical parts from stainless steel bar.
Street says: “LFV is a must if you are buying a Citizen lathe that offers this option. It’s a major technological advance, more so because it can be activated by the part program.”

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Advanced robot-welding vehicle tie-up

Fincantieri and Comau have signed a letter of intent to develop prototypes of robotised steel welding solutions and construct a series of machines that will be implemented first in Fincantieri shipyards. The first joint project, of which the operating agreement is currently underway (tests are scheduled at Fincantieri shipyards for early 2022), will involve a mobile solution consisting of an anthropomorphic welding robot and a remote control tracked vehicle. Fincantieri and Comau will be co-owners of the project’s know-how and intellectual property.

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