Software CAM Systems: Licence fee instead of subscription model

Editor: Alexander Stark

For SRD Engineering, the change from a license to a subscription CAM system didn’t fit with what the Oxfordshire company wanted, so they made the switch to Hypermill from Open Mind.

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Hypermill in action at SRD.
Hypermill in action at SRD.
(Source: Open Mind)

As a subcontract machine shop founded in 1989 in Oxfordshire, UK, SRD Engineering is a manufacturer that services clients in the motorsport and automotive sectors as well as the aerospace, oil and gas and medical industries among others. However, when its CAM software provider opted to change to a subscription-based model with its customers, the Bicester company started to investigate the alternatives.

Until recently the company was paying a subscription for their CAM software. However, SRD Engineering Production Manager, Chris Bryant wanted to pay a licence fee, and started looking around. He and his team calculated that by switching from a subscription model to a licence the company would save over £ 20,000 in three years. “Another reason we invested in Hypermill is that our customers use it and that is really good for us. Especially if we want to discuss any particular projects and similarities in the parts that we are making. This also helps us in supporting our customers”, Byrant says.

Multi pallet Matsuura at SRD is optimised with Hypermill.
Multi pallet Matsuura at SRD is optimised with Hypermill.
(Source: Open Mind)

With regards to productivity gains from Hypermill, Chris continues: “Since we have been using Hypermill, we have optimised our run cycles and there is a lot less ‘air cutting’. Additionally, some of our finishing cycles are a lot faster. We have one job that we were previously running at 45 minutes per part, and this is now down to 30 minutes. For this component, we produce around 60 parts a year and this gives us a saving of around 15 hours.” This 30 percent cycle time saving is magnified throughout the business, especially when considering that SRD has five 5-axis machines that includes DMG Mori machines and multi-pallet centres like the Matsuura HPlus-300.

The 80-employee business manufactures over 1,000 5-axis parts each month and according to the company, the savings on these complex components has been significant. “We have one motorsport part that was a batch of over 130 parts and the cycle time was over three hours per part. By re-programming this job with Hypermill, we have reduced the cycle time by 45 minutes per part, saving us over 100 hours of machining on just one job. We also have another component that we are producing at present for electrical testing machines, Hypermill has reduced the cycle time on this batch of 40 parts from ten hours to five hours per part — a 50 percent cycle time reduction,” continues Chris.

The machine shop at SRD.
The machine shop at SRD.
(Source: Open Mind)

Since investing in Open Mind’s CAM software last year, SRD Engineering has rapidly ramped up to nine seats of the industry-leading package with many of the shop floor machine operators programming their parts at the machine. “By programming at the machine, the operators take responsibility for following each job from the start to the end of the process. With often lengthy cycle times on complex parts, the operators can identify and eradicate any potential issues on the machine. With long-running parts, our team can also programme the next job whilst the machine is running. One feature in Hypermill that has saved us a lot of time is the pocket milling feature. It can machine straight and inclined pockets with any contour and with automatic recognition of islands and rest material areas. Open and closed pockets can also be machined easily when using the pocket milling strategy.”

The company has also invested in some 3-axis and 4th-axis machines, and will be running Hypermill on those machines in the near future too.

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