Shannon-based Bolger Engineering, a contractor to the medical industry, recently saw its order for Medtronic Puritan Bennett PB-series ventilator components leap from 4000 a week to over 18,000. And that increase in production is continuing early this year.
Sales manager Paul Collins says the company quickly identified ways of adapting to increase manufacturing capacity, including bringing in 35 more people and implementing new 25/5 shift patterns. He also says it became clear that Bolger’s Radan CADCAM software from Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence would be a key enabler in managing what he describes as a “major leap”.
“The design of the ventilators and individual parts didn’t change – but the challenge was to increase production by more than 500%,” he states. “We use Radan to program both our Trumpf punching machines and Trumpf laser cutter, so with over 18,000 components a week to produce for these ventilators alone, we knew that material utilisation and program optimisation were going to be crucial.”
He adds: “Our programmers typically take a 3D model or DXF drawing and import it into Radan to tool the part for either the punch or laser machines, depending on material thickness and profile complexity. They then nest and program the machine where Radan gives the best sheet utilisation. This is hugely important, as more often than not, material is the largest percentage of a job’s costs.”
Radan software allows the user to optimise manufacturing nests, while also enabling the profiling of components to within ±0.2 mm.
“That is very important as some components have 14 bends per part and we can very quickly see a high stack of tolerances when everything comes together at the assembly stage,” explains Collins.
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