Page 14 - MetalForming July 2012
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  Software for Manufacturing
 iPad App for Metal Service Centers
Invera, Houston, TX, has released an iPad application for its Invex customer web service and eCommerce applications, integrated with its Stratix ERP software for metal service cen- ters. Invex for iPad employs mobile computing to interact directly with the Stratix database in real time. Invex also is available as a web-based application for operation on
laptops, desktop computers and tablets.
Invex enables customers, outside sales representa-
tives and customer-service staff to quickly, easily and securely access frequently requested information and requirements via the web at their own convenience. Serv- ice centers can use the software to offer customers access to quotes. The app is part of Stratix Release 9.2, available for download from the iTunes store.
Invera Corp.: 514/935-3535;
 BIM Software Streamlines Ductwork Design for the NYPD Training Academy
Change may be good, but it isn’t always easy, especially when technology is involved. In any industry, there are the tried and true methods of completing tasks, and when technology updates those processes, it can leave some seasoned workers behind.
At Blue Diamond Sheet Metal, Long Island, NY, draftsmen recently embraced the direction technology pushed and came out with a partial bid to design the duct- work for the new New York Police Depart- ment Training Academy. In fall 2011, the company switched from two-dimensional drafting software to three-dimensional Benchmark building-information model- ing (BIM) software from the International Training Institute (ITI) Alexandria, VA, the education arm of the unionized sheet- metal and air-conditioning industry.
As explained by Blue Diamond vice president Al LaBella, the three-dimen- sional software provides draftsmen more control over a project. “Additional visibili- ty, as well as the ability to make easier changes to existing designs, allows every detail to be in view as if the designer was standing in front of a finished product,” LaBella says. “Working with mechanical contractors, three-dimensional building- information modeling is a must.”
Blue Diamond Sheet Metal wasted no
time placing bids on projects soon after training was completed. The company was one of five contractors who split the bid on the NYPD Training Academy. For it, the company is designing air-conditioning ductwork for three floors and a machine room, totaling more than 90,000 sq. ft.
Head draftsman Ed Wirth says every- one in the company has adapted to the software, noting that “the way jobs are progressing, you need 3D. The whole job is coordinated in 3D, and you need everything where it belongs. We have no regrets with the change here.” International Training Institute: 703/739-7200;
Better Nesting for that New Fiber Laser
Nesting capabilities from its new sheet- metal CAD/CAM software have proved so impressive at Altex Engineering, a UK con- tract sheetmetal fabricator and precision machining company, that it has created a new role for shop-floor worker Martin Brew- er. Brewer now works almost exclusively developing nests for the firm’s Salvagnini fiber laser and LVD turret-punch press.
“Due to the nature of the subcontract industry, our priorities change daily,” says Altex managing director Adrian Brewer. “It’s Martin’s job to produce the best nests for that particular moment and use as little material as possible.”
The nesting software of choice: Radan, from Planit Holdings and Vero Software. Radan symbols are created in the office, and then Martin takes the live job on the shop floor producing the nests for that day.
The twin-pallet Salvagnini L1Xe fiber laser cuts several different grades of steel, along with titanium, tungsten, Inconel and aluminum—including 1050A, which conventional CO2 lasers find dif- ficult to cut. “The low wavelength of the fiber laser means it can easily cut high- ly reflective materials such as brass and annealed copper,” says Adrian.
Previously, nesting for the laser was handled in the Altex engineering office, and often meant producing nests well ahead of delivery dates. Standard nests were created, leading to a number of pre- lasered parts held in stock and allowing remnants to build up.
“That has all changed,” says Adrian. “It’s a very dynamic operation now, with Martin being right at the sharp end on the shop floor. He gets around 85-percent material utilization, which, for some of the unusual shapes we cut, is extremely good. Radan helps him use every piece of mate- rial he possibly can—if there’s space on a sheet, he’ll fill it.” This strategy has helped reduce raw-material stock at the company.
When it comes time to decide whether to route work to the laser or to the firm’s turret-punch press, the firm finds some jobs too intricate to punch, and it wouldn’t laser-cut a job with hundreds of holes. “Also, some jobs might run on both machines,” says Adrian. “Where there are intricate profiles, we’ll form on the punch first, then bring the part over to the laser, and using its positional sensors to pick up on the holes and sheet edges we’d then cut around those.” Some larger panels would be laser-cut first, then moved to the punch to produce extra holes.
Where bending is required, parts are forwarded to the firm’s LVD and Bystronic press brakes, driven by Radan’s Radbend software module. Radbend provides Altex with several benefits, including the abil- ity to help understand where it’s feasible to fold certain parts rather than weld. Vero Software: 248/869-4040;,
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