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What Led Kavia Tooling to Develop its own Manufacturing Software?

When Kavia Tooling was looking at improving its manufacturing efficiency and accuracy, the company couldn’t find a suitable off-the-shelf solution, so developed its own software package to exactly suit its needs. Once complete, it became apparent that its ‘MergeTech’ software was commercially viable in its own right.

Background

Kavia Tooling specialises in the design and manufacture of precision injection mould tools.

Combining years of design and toolmaking knowledge, alongside state of the art CAD, CAD/CAM, CNC, CMM and EDM technologies, Kavia are able to offer an optimum solution in terms of component tool-design, manufacture and tool performance.

Challenge – Manufacturing Bottlenecks

When Kavia was implementing a series of manufacturing improvement strategies, the company identified a potential bottleneck in its workflow, related to the Sodick AG60L EDM Spark Erosion machine. The main issues with this stage of its process were the inability to program the machine offline or utilising zero-point transfer, plus it was very labour intensive to program, with room for human error.

Once this bottleneck was identified, Kavia looked for a suitable solution but were unable to find one that met all requirements. No existing off-the-shelf software packages could provide all of the necessary functions that they required. Kavia needed to find a package that would simplify and mistake-proof its manufacturing process, whilst increasing production speed and driving down the cost of manufacture.

Solution – MergeTech Software

As no existing solutions could be found, Kavia Tooling decided to create its own package out of necessity, and the MergeTech software was born.

Mark Cole, Production Director at Kavia comments: “We introduced a multitude of different improvement strategies, including component zero-point-transfer utilising our CMM and cutter tool offline setting. We also customised our CAM software to enable standardised and best practice machining and programming methods, running together with various different tailored machining strategies to automate the CNC programming and standardised all aspects of the CNC machine setting methods or procedures.

“We additionally introduced off-the-shelf production planning software that we heavily customised to manage our own individual production requirements.”

The purpose of the MergeTech software was primarily to increase efficiency in Kavia’s own facility; however, as the project developed, it became apparent the software may have wider appeal.

Mark continues: “The concept was first thought up to enable us to use the software for our own benefits. It became apparent very quickly that the software was unique and was very successful at what it was built to be used for, providing us with an opportunity to develop the software commercially.

“The MergeTech software works directly alongside the Sodick machines LN-Pro software to give offline programming and zero-point-transfer capabilities. The MergeTech software brings together Sodick’s LN-Pro software, the Electrode design software (CAD) and CMM (zero-point-transfer).

“The software is a production tool that dramatically increases productivity, whilst simplifying and mistake-proofing the Sodick die-sinking process.”

MergeTech Screenshot
MergeTech software acts as the link between all software output data that is required to run the Sodick EDM machine.
MergeTech software enables you to:
  • Work offline achieving next to no machine downtime
  • Mistake-proof and dramatically reduce human error
  • Utilise zero-point transfer of both electrodes and parts
  • Combine multiple electrode CNC programs
  • Assign part datum’s and electrode machine pocket positions
  • Automatically adjust the SODICK tank height
  • Generate a simple but detailed setting sheet
  • Standardise your EDM production process and workflow

Most of the development was done through Kavia tooling, for which the MergeTech software became a working prototype.

Development – Trial at HellermannTyton

The final part of the MergeTech software development was carried out in the field at HellermannTyton’s South Manchester site. HellermannTyton is a global brand and a leading manufacturer and supplier of quality products for fastening, fixing, connecting, insulating, and protecting electrical cables and network connectivity solutions.

At the Manchester site, one of HellermannTyton’s many world-class toolrooms runs two Sodick AG60L machines. Facing the same production bottlenecks as Kavia Tooling had suffered before the implementation of the MergeTech software, this gave both parties the opportunity to establish a close working relationship to further develop and implement the MergeTech software within the facility. 

The MergeTech software was then developed, tested and verified to ensure that it was ready to roll out on a commercial level. The six-month trial and development period within HellermannTyton Manchester was a complete success, giving the MergeTech software the confirmation that it ready for market.

HellermannTyton Tool
Example of a complex precision injection mould tool produced by HellermannTyton Manchester using MergeTech Software, involving multiple complex EDM electrode spark erosion operations.

Results – Increased Efficiency and Cost Savings

MergeTech software has enabled HellermannTyton Manchester to simplify and mistake-proof its production, whilst dramatically increasing its EDM manufacturing production. The company can now perform all EDM operations offline away from the machine whilst the machine continues to run.

It is also possible when using the MergeTech software to split and assign all the different EDM production tasks to multiple people, significantly speeding up the EDM manufacturing process. Historically most of the EDM production tasks had to be done on the machine, consequently stopping the machine and incurring lost production.

Also, it has given HellermannTyton Manchester the ability to fully utilise the capabilities of its existing Autodesk PowerShape and PowerInspect software’s, as the MergeTech software acts as the link between all software output data that is required to run the Sodick machine.

MergeTech also put in place at HellermannTyton Manchester tracking and scheduling software to help manage all the different production elements of the EDM design and manufacturing process. This facilitated the sharing, tracking and scheduling of all EDM design and manufacturing information, all in real-time, crucial in a fast-paced working environment, keeping everyone connected whether working from home, in the office or on the shop floor.

HellermannTyton Manchester’s world-class toolroom has now made the MergeTech software part of its EDM manufacturing toolbox. Having introduced the missing link needed to connect the Sodick’s LN-Pro software, the Electrode design software (CAD) and CMM (zero-point-transfer) it has given the company the ability to work offline, as all data is generated away from the machine, allowing the SODICK die-sink to carry on doing what it does best, with next to no machine downtime.

EDM production was increased by 50-80%, whilst simplifying the process, reducing errors leading to unscheduled downtime.

Kevin Young, Senior Engineering Manager at HellermannTyton Manchester commented: “Nothing pleases me more knowing we at HellermannTyton are forming partnerships with experts within the Plastics Industry to give our customers the confidence to know they are receiving excellently manufactured quality tooling on time.”

Conclusion

MergeTech software works directly alongside the Sodick machines LN-Pro software to give offline programming and zero-point-transfer capabilities, bringing together the power of LN-Pro, your electrode design software (CAD) and CMM (zero-point-transfer).

MergeTech is an EDM data management and NC control software, which has been developed to work alongside the SODICK EDM die-sinking machines. The MergeTech software is an EDM production tool that dramatically increases productivity, whilst simplifying and mistake-proofing your Sodick die-sinking process.

For more information, visit the MergeTech website.

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Kavia Tooling
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