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BENZ Tooling Manages SolidCAM Data with keytech
The Ideal Combination
The atmosphere in the BENZ production hall is calm and concentrated. As team leader for CAM programming, Jochen Tränkle is responsible for smooth processes: „When we used to store the SolidCAM data on a server in a folder structure, there were sometimes challenging moments. Especially when the colleague who had stored the information was suddenly unavailable. If there were questions about the validity of the information, it could get tricky.“
keytech for Manufacturing
In order to optimize this situation, a target image was created together with his colleague Florian Seiler from the design department. „The idea was to structure the CAM programs in a similar way with keytech as in the design department, so that everyone has the right information from a reliable source at the right time.
“There, CAD models, drawings, revision statuses and project-specific information are managed in an audit-proof manner and centrally with keytech PLM. An inquiry at keytech confirmed the feasibility. SolidCAM data as well as information and documents from manufacturing that belong to machining can be managed just as easily with keytech as 3D CAD models and projects from design.
Half the Time Saved
In January 2014, BENZ started implementing the project and since then can look back on consistently positive experiences: „We can now find all the information we need right away and can search in all directions using the convenient search function. A data mask was generated especially for the CAM programs, with which the components can be found in no time at all. Especially when it comes to similar components, we now have a huge benefit. Using the characteristics that we save in the keytech mask, we can quickly find similar parts that have already been manufactured and use them as a template for the new order. This saves up to half the time that we used to need,“ says Jochen Tränkle.
Quick and Simple
Beyond the CAM programs, the entire clamping situations are documented with images and directly linked to the item. Production can easily understand how a part is clamped at any time without any callbacks. The corresponding images can be screenshots from SolidCAM, in which the programmer shows how the clamping should be carried out, as well as real images taken by the worker at the machine. „The acceptance of keytech by users is very high. We see the reasons for this in its ease of use. It follows a structure that is easy to follow. Since all information is provided centrally by the system, sources of error are minimized,“ says Jochen Tränkle.
Sources of Error Systematically Excluded
Searching via the unique item avoids numerical errors or interpretation mistakes, which can happen when searching manually via folder structures. In addition, change statuses of the documents at the item can be recognized immediately. In connection with the respective CAM project, it is clearly visible with which CAD model version it was created. When loading the program in SolidCAM, information immediately appears that the model has changed. „Working with keytech and SolidCAM actively helps to avoid mistakes. If a machine operator had manually entered changes in the NC code, it was never possible to tell what the final index status was or whether everything was included so that the part could be manufactured accordingly. With keytech, such questions do not arise at all,“ summarizes Jochen Tränkle.
A rights and release system in keytech ensures regulated access to information. Jochen Tränkle describes the procedure at BENZ: „Only the programming in our SolidCAM team has the right to see all version statuses. There is always only one valid status, which is then visible in production and assembly. Machine operators can edit current statuses. This excludes the use of old version statuses. In keytech it is also regulated who is only allowed to view data and who is allowed to edit data. This assignment of rights avoids errors and ensures clarity. The structure provided by keytech has streamlined our processes and further increased the quality of work.“
Second Backup Instance
The connection between SolidCAM and keytech proves to be very helpful. keytech stores a local working copy on each user‘s computer. The original version remains in the database until it is updated during the restore process. In case of unforeseen interruptions, the initial version of the Solid-CAM project can be restored immediately. A status display tells the machine operator whether a CAM project is still being processed or whether it has been released. If the operator optimizes values, e.g. feed rates, during machine start-up, he can return these directly to the SolidCAM project in keytech. Thus, the optimized version is always available. Valuable knowledge is made transparent.
Digital Machine Folders
In order to increase the overview of the machine park and the tools used, machine folders have been created in keytech. There you can find all information about the respective machine such as maintenance schedules and information about accessories. Also stored are the appropriate clamping devices as 3D models, which are used in SolidCAM to perform simulations and collision analyses. Furthermore, the data sheets of the clamping devices and the spare parts and accessories are listed. Often, even the machine room is stored as a 3D object. The work preparation department immediately recognizes which clamping devices are available for the machine and whether the machine is suitable for machining. All programmers use the same clamping models, i.e., there is only one central model for the respective vice and not every programmer creates his own clamping models. This transparent way of working increases flexibility in staff scheduling. New employees and vacation or sickness replacements quickly find their way around and work their way into a project more easily.
Own Worker Class
For NC programs generated directly on the machine, a separate class has been created in keytech. In the past, each operator created his own data collection in paper form for these programs, but now this is managed centrally in keytech for all to see. Loss of information, duplication of work and high search efforts is thus eliminated. The work preparation department recognizes directly from the class that it is a program written on the machine. In case of upcoming changes, the detour via the programming department can thus be saved. The workers gladly accept the possibility of exchanging information via keytech, as they can now easily document notes or additional information such as the clamping situation, and their knowledge is more readily available. The intuitive operation of keytech contributes its part to the strong usage. There are now over 3400 such directly written NC programs in keytech.
BENZ keytech administrator Florian Seiler and CAM programming team leader Jochen Tränkle agree: „The combination of SolidCAM and keytech is a complete success and will certainly be expanded for further efficiency gains in manufacturing.“
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About BENZ GmbH Werkzeugsysteme
BENZ GmbH Werkzeugsysteme from Haslach im Kinzigtal develops and produces aggregates for the wood, composite and metal processing industries. The product portfolio includes angle heads, multi-spindle drilling heads, high-speed spindles, driven and static tools, broaching units, large bore heads, modular quick-change systems, etc. BENZ products have been among the market-leading tool solutions for many years in, for example, mechanical engineering, the automotive sector and in aerospace technology.
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