CAD/CAM software optimises around ten different makes of CNC machine tools for a growing aerospace manufacturer.
Smiths Harlow have built a formidable reputation manufacturing a wide range of commercial aircraft components for customers such as Rolls Royce, Bombardier, Safran, GKN, and a number of 1st tier companies.
Focusing on aero engine parts from 200 mm to 3,000 mm diameter, plus prismatic parts of 1,000 cubed and above, they have an impressive array of sturdy CNC machines capable of working with hard on exotic metals including Inconel 718, Waspaloy, Nickel Alloy c263, and Haynes 188. They also machine softer metals such as aluminium and magnesium.
Amongst the components currently going through the shop floor: Titanium aero engine casings – the visible part at the front of the engine containing the fan blades – and high pressure turbine casings.
All programs for their range of machine tools including lathes, vertical mills and machining centres, are developed in Edgecam, from
Hexagon. They include a six-pallet Burkhardt & Weber, which cuts most of their Titanium parts, and a recently installed Dugard DBM 2150, along with machines supplied by Cincinnatti, Kitamura, Toshiba, Mandelli, Deckel Maho, Kia, Mazak and Boehringer.
Engineering Manager Tim Hambridge says they use Edgecam’s Part Modeler function for design, getting the correct stock sizes, laying out any tooling lugs in the material, fixture design, clamps, and fixture drawing.
“Then we move on to the part programming in Edgecam, using Waveform roughing on both milling and turning.”
Their private equity investor (Agathos) is looking to grow former family firm Smiths Harlow. Former wartime Spitfire pilot Gerald Smith founded the company over 60 years ago, and Director Ian Knightley says with recent investment by Agathos, they are upgrading their machine tools and manufacturing systems. An upgrade to Javelin
2017, also from the Hexagon stable, has provided the infrastructure basis to become more datacentric with full real-time information feedback. This is a major element to allow them to grow, either by acquisition or organically.
Upgrading their Javelin production control software was the catalyst for an aerospace manufacturer to roll the system fully out across the business, enabling them to provide more data to control the business and meet the investors growth objectives.
And rolling out the Javelin Shop Floor Data Capture system to many of the 70-strong workforce across the 60,000 square foot factory as a vital part of their development plans.
“We’d been using a ten-year-old version of Javelin’s predecessor, Jobshop, which contained many bespoke items,” says Ian Knightley. “But we only really used it as a production control MRP system. We’re now taking advantage of Javelin’s powerful capabilities to give us full control over the business, as it provides us with much more comprehensive information we need about all aspects of our processes.”
A component’s Javelin journey begins with Sales Order Processing. Some come in by EDI, and others are entered manually.
“And MRP is vital to us. Working almost exclusively on aerospace parts we know at least a year in advance what the customer is looking for, and we need to be flowing that information through to our suppliers. For instance, some forgings that we purchase have a lead time of between 40 and 50 weeks. Therefore, the MRP function helps us give our suppliers a good signal of our future requirements.”
He says Purchase Orders flow naturally out of MRP. “A central area used to produce all purchase orders, and everyone would go there to authorise them. Section Managers now raise their own purchase orders in Javelin, which are also authorised within Javelin.”
Every job going through the machine shop has a routing card and all relevant documentation, such as drawings, operation sketches and self-inspection sheets is attached to it through Javelin’s Document Linking and Viewing functionality. “We can print those documents to ensure that the shop floor operator has the latest data and documents relating to the job they’re working on.”
Updating to Javelin 2016 R2, quickly followed by 2017 R1, has revolutionised Smiths Harlow’s scheduling. Previously, Work To lists were printed weekly for each machine. Now that information is available to managers around the business through Javelin. And with a number of Shop Floor Data Capture terminals throughout the workshop, each operator can readily see forthcoming jobs.
“Until recently operators were working with paper timesheets, but now they’re logging on and off Javelin each day through SFDC, and processing each stage of their work.”
The Materials Control functionality is particularly important to the company, as they need to adhere to the aerospace industry’s strict traceability requirement. “We use the serial number feature within Javelin, so we can now tie all items down to serial numbers as they go to the machine shop.”
Costing gives them the ability to analyse every job by the actual hours against the planned hours for each operation. “We can see a complete snapshot for each job – drill right down and see the materials allocated to it, and pull data out of the system on an ad hoc or monthly basis for further analysis.”
In conclusion, he says Javelin’s simple systems management meant they could easily customise their screens, creating hotkeys for functions they use regularly. “Having those keys on the Javelin desktop instead of having to go down the tree structure has sped up the process considerably.
“Everything is now rolled up into the one system for everyone. Javelin provides more real-time data about the business, which is easy to analyse, and enables customised and complex Crystal Reports to be produced.
“It gives us full control of the business.”