Delcam’s FeatureCAM gives five-axis success in New Zealand
A move to five-axis machining programmed with Delcam’s FeatureCAM feature-based CAM system has resulted in dramatic productivity and quality improvements at WECAN, a New Zealand company focused on the manufacture of precision components.
Founded in 1971, WECAN has gone from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of New Zealand’s premier manufacturers. The business focuses on the manufacture of precision components, critical engineering spares, and complex engineering parts and assemblies in the food and meat processing industries. Canning and packaging equipment is a major part of the business, with the local subsidiary of global food giant Heinz being an important customer. However, the company also works with R & D teams on prototyping and low-volume manufacturing.
With WECAN’s continuing success came a need for expansion. The company’s directors, Rickie Pike and Ian Jamieson, realised that a move into five-axis machining would soon be required to increase output and productivity. In the past, they had encountered problems when integrating another CNC machine into the business. These problems stemmed primarily from having independent suppliers of machine, cutting tools and CAM system, and the difficulty of coordinating them in a way that provided an acceptable time frame from order to operation.
An extensive review of five-axis machine tools resulted in the selection of a Spinner U620 with Siemens 820D controller. However, before WECAN would place the order for the machine, Spinner NZ had to undertake to provide a total package including machine tool, cutting tools and CAM system. Spinner NZ formed a partnership with Iscar Tools and Delcam sales partner Camplex to meet the challenge.
"We wanted to ensure that everything was taken care of when we bought this total package,” recalled Mr. Jamieson. "We wanted to be sure that the machine would perform efficiently from the day it was commissioned.”
He was not disappointed. Training of WECAN staff on the machine and with FeatureCAM was completed prior to the machine installation. In addition, a customised tool database was created within FeatureCAM with details of the Iscar tooling. "We were straight into the five-axis operation in the first few days, which was exactly what we wanted,” claimed Mr. Jamieson.
Mr. Pike also endorsed FeatureCAM enthusiastically. "Our previous CAM package had never had the tool library set up except in a haphazard way and we just were not getting the productivity that we needed,” he reported. "Now, that has all changed and productivity has increased. In the first two weeks of having the new machine, we ran six jobs in one or two operations that would have required six or seven set-ups previously. As a result, we were able to run all these jobs within three days of machine time rather than around two weeks, and without the errors inherent in multiple set-ups”
Since the success with FeatureCAM five-axis, WECAN has invested in further Delcam solutions, including an On-Machine Verification quality-assurance system for the Spinner U620 and FeatureCAM’s TurnMill software for its Okuma Multus multi-tasking machine.