Fabrication software wins Formula 1 time trial

Australia/NZ distributor of JETCAM sheetmetal software, Maxitec has pointed to one of the world’s most time conscious and material savvy industries to highlight the intricate competitive advantages this software can bring.

In the super-fast world of Formula 1 racing, Red Bull Technology in Europe recently based its manufacturing on JETCAM to gain numerous advantages. And this was mainly to produce parts from composite ply rather than mainstream sheetmetal.

First of all, at Red Bull the system paid for itself within three months. It is also considered more user-friendly than other systems used by programmers, has reduced machine cycle time reduced by up to 42%, gained live recording data for immediate visibility of material costs on the shopfloor, and saw its staff trained to use it in just one day.

JETCAM also returned the lowest scrap and highest efficiency on any material, with nests at least 16% more efficient than current nests.

The market for JETCAM

Maxitec managing director Andrew Bentrup said his company has overseen the installation of JETCAM in a growing number of businesses in Australia and New Zealand. And the uptake has been for good reason, he added.

“There is probably no industry in the world better equipped than the Formula 1 world to provide an applied scenario where fabrication software must perform to extreme efficiency,” Bentrup said.

“The sheer speed of delivery that is nearly always required means that every second counts for so much. When you consider an organisation like the Red Bull racing team is often under pressure to re-engineer and manufacture body panels on the eve of a race, it is a test like no other.

“Add into the equation that the company also works with very expensive special composites and you have an industry where every square millimetre of blank sheet is worth a sizeable amount of money.

Bentrup said all these factors – speed, accuracy and physical efficiency – were taken into account when Red Bull Technology’s management field tested various software options.

He noted that its not surprising that a growing list of sheetmetal fabricators in Australia and New Zealand, which may have started on proprietary software, have now turned to the more dynamic JETCAM to meet changing business needs and pare back the wastage and costs.

The benefits of JETCAM

Once the fabrication system went live with JETCAM at Red Bull Technology, the company saw a number of benefits; the most notable difference was the nesting efficiency.

Supplies of composite materials can be limited and lead times to obtain it can be lengthy, so Red Bull is under extreme pressure to maximise its material efficiency.

On one particular day, there was a challenge to make some new parts, but staff could not get additional blank material and had to make do with existing, and very limited, in-house stock.

On previous nests, this particular job was running at 300mm short of the technical requirement. But when its operator ran the plies through JETCAM’s high-performance nester it saved 305mm, enough to complete the order.

If they can’t make multiples of a specific part it can leave the team in jeopardy if enough spares are not on hand.

The team outsourced the cutting of another order as it had no time to cut in-house. The supplier was telling them it needed 327 linear metres to complete the job; however, when the Red Bull team ran it through JETCAM it was done in just 287 lineal metres which, at more than £100 per square metre equates to a £4000 saving, and this is on a nest run two or three times.

In addition to material savings, Red Bull Technology also saw an increase in throughput on the machine due to features such as common line cutting, which allows plies to be separated using a single cut rather than leaving a skeleton.

Its previous system could not always rotate parts at all available angles, and it also could not perform common cuts. Previously one particular nest of a wishbone would take three hours to cut, but with JETCAM it can be done in 1¾ hours.

Loading orders remotely is also achieved through JETCAM Orders Controller (JOC). Previously, it was often quicker to cut a ply by hand than to re-nest. Now the team just loads a complete part or individual ply order into JOC and all required plies are immediately ready to nest. All the jobs can be queued and orders combined and then nested together.

JETCAM has extensive reporting capabilities, providing instant nesting efficiency and runtime statistics, which Red Bull Technology loads onto its works orders. This provides the accounts department with immediate visibility of where material costs are on the shop floor.