Rane (Madras) Ltd (RML), a supplier to global automotive manufacturers has installed the EdgeCAM offline CNC part programming package and achieved average cuts in production time of 15 per cent, leading to an expected payback period of six months.
In the fiercely competitive automotive manufacturing industry, continually increasing efficiency and productivity can make the difference between success and failure. Rane (Madras) Ltd (RML), a preferred supplier to major automotive companies worldwide, has seen output increase in some cases by as much as 48 per cent per shift since installing EdgeCAM's NC part programming software.
RML is a well-respected and long-established company that manufactures manual steering and suspension systems for cars, utility and commercial vehicles and tractors - which represented around 27 per cent of group sales for the year 2006-07. One of the first commercial users of EdgeCAM in India, the company is realising major benefits in terms of improved cycle times and reduced prove-out times since installing the software in 2006.
During the late 1990s RML identified a need to invest in new technology in order to stay competitive with other players in the automotive industry.
Mr Parthasarathy, president, explains: "Globalisation was starting to make an impact on our business. We knew we had to utilise our existing capacity more efficiently, replace obsolete equipment and bring our processes more in line with the developing technology. This included converting machine control from hydraulic to CNC - and then, around 18 months ago, we started talking to EdgeCAM about its advanced CNC offline programming system."
30 per cent quicker drilling and boring
RML carried out a series of benchmarking exercises, talking to several CAM suppliers before investing in the EdgeCAM system. Working with EdgeCAM's master reseller for India, Adroitec Information Systems Limited, the simulated cycle times were compared to the current ones and applied to various components.
Since replacing manual processes with CNC machinery, RML has seen a dramatic improvement in productivity and optimisation of its process through sequencing - reporting savings of 15 per cent on average in production time and up to 30 per cent on processes such as drilling and boring.
Mr Prabhu, the senior manager, manufacturing engineering, states: "It is important for us to constantly look at ways to quickly find the best solution for all of our processes, whether it is boring, cutting or drilling. EdgeCAM has enabled us to achieve this - especially with the simulation facility that saves us much time and expense - and we plan to extend its use to other Rane sites.
"One example of our productivity improvement is the introduction of a multiple-thread milling cutter. The tool holder now provides five thread milling inserts instead of one, with the result that feed rate has increased from 700mm/min to 1500mm/min and spindle speed from 1500rpm to 2000rpm, while cutting time is reduced by 7.2 per cent."
These developments could not have been carried out without the determination and hard work of everyone involved and the understanding of the flexibility of EdgeCAM to bring about tangible improvements in a short time span.
Mr Prabhu adds: "It is often difficult to introduce new procedures into production lines without holding things up. With EdgeCAM we can simulate new ideas offline and prove out processes and different tools before we actually start machining - virtually eliminating downtime. We are then in a position to make educated decisions on when to introduce the new methods with minimum disruption."
EdgeCAM software has also been instrumental in the implementation of lean manufacturing techniques to improve performance across the factory. Using the Job Manager function, the company is able to track operational sequences, prioritise jobs and balance each production line to achieve the maximum output.
Mr Parthasarathy comments: "The overall effect of implementing EdgeCAM has surprised and pleased us. In improving productivity - output has increased in some cases by as much as 48 per cent per shift - the whole workforce is more motivated, manifesting an attitude that if you aim high you can achieve so much more."
This is a sentiment that is echoed by Mr Prabhu, who concludes: "The follow-up has been fantastic - we could not ask for better support. The project would not have been a success without it and since installation we have forged a strong and mutually beneficial business relationship with both Adroitec and EdgeCAM.
"The benefits were evident almost immediately and all the signs point to a payback within a period of just six months. With our capabilities for independent product design and testing/validation, we are now a preferred system solution supplier to many domestic OEMs. EdgeCAM has been highly instrumental in allowing us to achieve this."