Anderdon Machine And Tool Partners With Ambo Technologies To Significantly Reduce 2D Programming Time And Cost By Over 10x For Stamping Dies!
Anderdon Machine and Tool is a family-owned tool and die shop operating from two adjacent plants located in Windsor, Ontario. They have been building metal stamping dies for the automotive industry for over 30 years including line dies, mechanical transfer dies, and progressive dies specializing in underbody frame and structural components. Anderdon’s dies form production parts for Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Fiat and Volkswagen regularly shipping tools to stamping plants in Canada, USA, and Mexico. They manage every aspect of the tool build: from die set design to machining of details, assembly, and press tryout. Their customer’s rely on them as a single source for metal stamping dies, prototype parts and gauges and recognize Anderdon as a premium tooling supplier with a reputation for quality, reliability and on-time delivery.
Anderdon attributes much of their success and ability to remain at the top of their game in the highly competitive automotive supply chain market, to a culture of innovation and continuous improvement that is supported in their workplace in all areas of their business: from design and engineering to manufacturing and tool tryout. Their design, engineering and manufacturing teams make full use of the latest computer simulation, CAD/CAM/CAE technologies and CNC machining techniques always looking for ongoing process innovation opportunities to reduce cost and time while increasing quality. For CNC programming, Anderdon uses Edgecam from Vero Software, part of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (Hexagon, AB). They are supported by long-time Canadian Edgecam partner Ambo Technologies out of Toronto.
While Anderon had achieved a satisfactory level of process consistency and productivity with current tools in their CNC programming area, true to their culture, they knew that sitting on their laurels is not a plan for remaining competitive and staying ahead of the competition. Looking at opportunities in their current processes and some of their recurring challenges, Anderdon felt there was more room to cut time and cost with increased productivity in their CNC programming processes. Focus first turned to innovating their approach to 2D machining and exploring areas they could automate and control their processes around company established machining best-practices and lessons learned with reduced dependency on tribal knowledge.
For many manufacturer’s, when you are busy, it is easy to get complacent behind “tools”; not having time or experience to explore new technologies and processes; and sticking with known approaches that “have been working”, missing the opportunity to see how high the bar can be set with a continuous improvement mindset. Fortunately this is not in Anderdon’s nature. Without looking further at process automation opportunities, Anderdon was subject to recurring problems introduced by human error; through varying degrees of experience and skillsets across their team and with introduction of new hires; and from employees having “good days” and “bad days” using manual programming methods, largely reliant on individual proficiency and decision making.
Mark Klem, CAD-CAM Group Manager at Anderdon was interested in how they could leverage capabilities of their current technologies and drive greater operational excellence to eliminate costly machining errors; have consistent, repeatable control over machining results; avoid improper tool selection and use; and ensure optimal selection of the most efficient cutter paths regardless of who programmed the parts and what machine they were processed on. And of course, to make things easier and overall process much faster with eye maintained on quality and on-time delivery goals of the company. This is where they looked outside to partner Ambo Technologies for input and support.
Ambo Technologies has been the Canadian Reseller Partner for Edgecam since 1997 helping manufacturers to drive productivity and innovation in their CNC manufacturing processes with Edgecam’s best-in-class capabilities. With its intuitive 5-step Workflow interface and various built-in automation tools, Edgecam has provided many out-of-the-box benefits for the tool and die industry and other machining sectors as the standard for intelligent manufacturing. However, an often overlooked opportunity is just how far you can go with Edgecam’s unique and sophisticated programming automation capabilities for intelligent machining. This represented the next milestone for Anderdon to pursue and the 2 hour average programming time for their 2D machining applications was the next barrier they wanted to break through.
Ambo sat down with Mark to first look at their processes from engineering to manufacturing. With Edgecam’s unique CAD integration, planning for manufacturing could start up front in engineering with simple colour coding applied to part features at design to indicate dimensional tolerances and surface finish requirements as part of the master CAD data. This information could then be acted on by Edgecam downstream using Edgecam Strategy Manager to capture and re-use machining methods defined with a comprehensive set of logic in simple flowchart style. Next a set of Anderon-specific machining strategies were built in Edgecam based on machining practices perfected by Anderdon over time. This included the ability to automatically machine features to tolerance and finish specs based on colour coding passed down from engineering. Upon implementation, 2D machining at Anderdon is now performed with a feature-based automation routine employing the power of Edgecam strategies. Ambo’s Senior Applications Engineer explains the premise behind the process:
“Ultimately this automation tool, using standard Edgecam functionality, was built to keep part programming as simple and as user friendly as possible. The programmer simply sets a few options: ex. ehich side of the die plate is to be machined (top or bottom); what type of drills are to be used (Ingersoll Solid Carbide, X-Gold, large Water Drills); whether to Tap/Ream/Mill and from which side for through features, etc. Once the few required inputs are set, the programmer simply selects 'Plan' to automatically plan machining, then 'Apply' to execute the plan and generate machine code. All machining is completely automated according to the options selected and the machining logic controlled within the strategies."
An example of the automatin provided by Ambo Technologies lies in the drilling strategies used. They have built-in intelligence that will decide if a certain hole feature needs to be spot drilled or not. This is based on its size, preferred tool selection made, correct size tool being available in the tool library, and the machine and its associated post-processor chosen for machining. If spot drilling was not performed, therefore the hole's chamfer has been ignored, the chamfering strategy will recognize this and chamfer the hole later in the process. This unparalleled attention to detail ensures that all features are being machined completely, consistently and with repeatability to Anderdon standards while keping tool changes to a minumum. This fundamentally allows Anderdon to stay on the edge of tooling and machining technologies while requiring very minor alterations to the automated output due to the flexibilty and intleligence behind Edgecam Strategy Manager.
Edgecam Strategy Manager Benefits:
- Drastically reduced programming time for a vast array of components
- Virtual elimination of human error in the programming process
- Ensuring consistent and predictable programs and NC code to machines every time by any and all users
The impact of this project has more than met Anderdon's original goals. As a result of this first step towards fully automated programming, they now consistently achieve the ultimate example of predicable manufacturing and toolpath generation. Meanwhile, the ability to have team members with varying skill levels and experience, efficiently produce reliable program code, consistently to Anderdon's established best-practices, is truly revolutionary for their business model going forward.
"Anderdon is now manufacturing with more controlled results and has substantially reduced machining errors, inefficient cutter paths, and improper tool selection and use. This all results in reduced machining times, and a major reduction in tooling and carbide consumption while increading our output volumes. We can now put cutter to steel in minutes."
Mark Klem, CAD-CAM Group Manager, Anderdon Machine and Tool
Mark says that this experience, fully leveraging the unique strengths of Edgecam's intelligent machining and automation capabilities, has ultimately eliminated all machining errors, substantially reduced programming time, and will be a definite game changer in the future. Through the combined efforts of Anderdon with their progressive thinking, and support from partner Ambo Technologies, Mark is happy to confirm that the average 2 hour programming time 2D machining before automation, is now an impressive 7-10 minutes using Edgecam. Sights are now set on applying this experience to their 3D machining processes and a revised set of benchmark targets for all their machining applications.