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Advance Thermal warms to swift ROI on CAM & nesting investment
Nov '08
Advance Thermal Corp, based in Bensenville, Illinois, manufacture removable insulation blankets from a variety of materials. They purchased a Humantec (rebranded Zund) knife cutter in 2004. Almost every job that Advance Thermal produce is unique, which cause considerable problems for the CAM system provided with the machine.

Andrew Powell, IT Manager explained; "The old system did have rudimentary batch processing capabilities, however the problems occurred when there were issues with the CAD files. If the system did pick up a problem it would not document it, so I had to manually check the files, which often took around an hour per day, with around 15-20 errors occurring per week. Errors also often went unreported and would be discovered far down the production line, after considerable labor had been done on the part and causing the part to be scrapped."

In 2007 the company decided to replace this system for one that would be suited the automating the production of low or single run parts, but discounted almost all systems they looked at. Andrew said; “Most systems are designed for large quantity OEM work, making the same part over and over. All of the other systems we looked at had overheads, creating a prohibitive amount of labor each time to create a new part. JETCAM had almost no setup time, and this could be completely automated with Remote Control Processing (RCP).”

The decision was made to purchase JETCAM Expert along with JETCAM's free form high performance nesting (FFHPN) and Remote Control Processing (RCP) modules. RCP allows virtually all instructions that would normally be done by a programmer to be executed remotely.
Advance Thermal were able to integrate JETCAM into their existing SQL-based MRP system in a single day. “The RCP instructions were extremely well documented, and the robustness and reliability of the system is impressive.”

The system was installed remotely by JETCAM distributor NestOne Solutions. Online training was also provided, which ensured minimal impact on the day to day business.

After the system went live there was an immediate change of roles for the staff involved. The programmer's involvement drastically reduced, with RCP eliminating the 20+ processes required to take CAD files, automatically import and clean them, apply profiling, nest them and generate NC code.

Any parts that could not be dynamically cleaned were automatically reported back to the operator for examination. Single Component Automatic processing (SCAP) was used after parts were modified to quickly 'trial and error' a CAD file to ensure integrity. Andrew's involvement to resolve problems was removed altogether.

Although the material that Advance Thermal are cutting is extremely low in cost (measured in cents per square foot rather than dollars) the savings mount up considerably over time. Their previous CAM system worked at around 70-80% efficiency, whereas Andrew cites JETCAM at delivering between 85%-95%

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