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Rapid Fab-Shop Growth

Monday, January 1, 2018
 

At Quality Fabricated Solutions (QFS), Indianapolis, IN, a fabricated-metal and custom-parts manufacturer, the overarching mission is to deliver on company promises, from producing parts on time to responding quickly when changes arise.

“We must find ways to be different from everyone else,” says Charley Powers, QFS president and co-owner. “My goal is to make our customers look better to their customers than our competitors can.”

Jobs begin at QFS when operators enter purchase orders into the company’s ERP system, which in turn generates a router with vital job information. QFS sometimes receives customer designs in the form of solid models, which easily import into Radan with geometry intact. Other customers supply designs on paper, which QFS programmers redraw in Radan using the software’s CAD capabilities.
That goal pays off for Powers and his team, which includes two CNC programmers and six shop-floor staff that produce parts primarily for the military sector, as well as for conveyor and tractor-trailer accessory businesses. On its resume of fabrication and metalforming competencies: prototyping and design, laser cutting (on an automated 4-kW CO2 Mazak machine), stamping (110-ton press capacity, on sheetmetal to 12 in. wide, 10-gauge), turret-press punching, press-brake bending (it notes deep-box bending as a specialty), silk screening, welding and assembly.

“When my customers have a problem, if they need something or have an emergency, they have my cell-phone number,” Powers says. “We’ve been able to take a lot of work from shops much larger than ours just because we can respond more quickly.”

Intuitive Software Paves the Way to a Smooth Growth Curve

After Powers and his team opened QFS in 2014, he quickly found ways to increase efficiency by retooling the company’s processes for material and data management. Among the improvements made: integration of an ERP system, and the addition of new CAD-CAM software, Radan, from Vero Software, for driving its sheetmetal-fabrication operations—cutting, punching and bending. Powers calls the software “an ideal fit for QFS, because we sought one solution to handle all of our programming needs. I needed software that was very user-friendly and that would allow us to grow without having to be a genius to run it. Ninety-five percent of our parts go across the turret or the laser, and we can’t run either of them without Radan.”

The company recently added new punching capabilities, and will soon add a new press brake to its lineup—an Accurpress model selected in part because of its seamless integration with Radan.


To ensure ideal results from nests for laser cutting (shown here), Radan analyzes part shapes, materials and thicknesses for components to be nested on sheets, off-cuts or remnants. Radan’s nest-editing tools provide an additional level of flexibility to users who wish to edit automatically generated nests. It also produces associated data so that shop-floor personnel quickly and easily can identify completed parts.
“One of the reasons I went with Accurpress is because it has had success with the Radan offline-programming software for its press-brake controls,” Powers says.

ERP Generates Job Routers

Jobs begin at QFS when operators enter purchase orders into the company’s ERP system, which in turn generates a router, or job traveler, with vital job information. The plant manager then generates a daily manufacturing schedule based on due dates and hands it off to the company’s CNC programmers.

QFS sometimes receives customer designs in the form of solid models, which easily import into Radan with geometry intact. Other customers supply designs on paper, which QFS programmers redraw in Radan using the software’s CAD capabilities.

QFS programmers generate nests whenever possible, which reduces material costs and manufacturing time. To ensure ideal results, Radan analyzes part shapes, materials and thicknesses for components to be nested on sheets, off-cuts or remnants. The system’s nest-editing tools provide an additional level of flexibility to users wishing to edit automatically generated nests. Radan also produces associated data so that shop-floor personnel quickly and easily can identify completed parts.



Count among QFS’ core fabrication competencies press-brake bending (it will soon commission a new Accurpress model due to its seamless integration with Radan’s offline-programming software), as well as arc welding.
“We may have the parts of three different customers on one sheet,” Powers says, “and we have a printout generated by Radan that helps us match the parts with the prints. It shows how they’re nested, and tells us the quantity.”

An Estimation Tool as Well

Powers, who oversees all sales for QFS, also uses Radan as an estimation tool, as he can quickly determine accurate job costs based on the software’s ability to identify material needs. “Nesting occurs quickly,” Powers says, “and I do all of the quoting, so it’s nice that I can quickly determine what the material utilization will be for each job. I use the software not just to program, but also to help create my quotes.”

With customer service at the forefront of his activities, Powers notes that Radan’s nesting capabilities are an asset to be shared with his existing customers, as well as a money-saving bonus that he can use to grow his customer base.

“The ability to nest parts allows us to save our customers money, and I typically pass on all of those savings on to the customers,” Powers says.

Most significantly, the integration of Radan has helped the shop increase efficiency, set and enforce standards, and instill a high level of overall consistency. That type of customer service is second nature to Powers, who is enjoying the fruits of his efforts. While QFS earned more than $400,000 in sales in 2014, the company’s coffers grew to more than $600,000 in 2015 and to more than $1 million in 2016. In other words, the investment in process improvement is paying for itself. MF

Article provided by Vero Software; www.verosoftware.com.

 

See also: Radan CIM Inc.

Related Enterprise Zones: Fabrication, Software

 


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