MoldMaking Technology

NOV 2018

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TIP 48 MoldMaking Technology —— NOVEMBER 2018 New software implementation requires management support, out-of-pocket costs and labor planning. How to Implement CAM Software SOFTWARE By Alan Levine Every new technology has a learning curve. For example, properly implement- ing CAM software poses challenges. When the implementation is done improperly, it can hinder a shop from mov- ing forward technologically. If unable to navigate the implementation, the shop owner faces potential stagnation by staying with existing technology. These challenges are more prevalent in small and medium-sized shops that may not have the formal business processes and labor support to manage the transition to new technology easily. However, shops can overcome these challenges. New software technology implementation requires man- agement support, out-of-pocket costs and labor planning. The shop should manage and track this implementation as another project, requiring labor and machine allocation. In the short term, a loss of billable time from the machine tool is possible. The owner should only move forward with new software implementation if he or she can realize a return on investment over a de‚ined period. Large capital investment may require a return that is measured in a few months or as long as a few years. Smaller items or more focused produc- tivity improvements can sometimes generate ROI over one subsequent project. Also, shops can attribute labor savings or machine savings to fundamental components of cost recapture. Other savings and return to the business may be from shorter delivery times or larger part volumes, the ability to win more orders and the ability to win more complex orders that come with higher shop rates. Reducing Risk Ultimately, risk is the key factor to manage during a transition. Risk is associated with unknown variables or those that are hard to measure. Risk can lead to indecision. For a business plan with a projected return on investment, reducing risk can be identi‚ied by asking, "What is the probability that the shop will achieve the business plan?" Here are some pointers for reducing risk: • Plan for suficient training. This can be standard classroom training or e-training, but often, hands-on custom training will have a more direct impact. • Enable workers to use new software. Consider uninstalling the previous software program—even if temporarily—to give the programmer a clear management statement to support the workflow change. • Focus the implementation on manageable tasks. Start with one project on one machine, and with one or two employees. Later, expand on the best approaches for the entire shop. • Build long-term support structures. This includes a tool database and a programming macro database. Look for other opportunities to automate regular tasks. This will save time on future work and instill a culture of adhering to work standards. • Acknowledge the risk of post-processor development and imple- mentation. Not all post-processor suppliers are the same. Find a software developer whose process is supported by a pool of similar successful implementations. Seek a test of the machine performance. De‚ine change requests as functional or cosmetic. Test in all conditions, including 'D, "D, index- ing, ‚ive-axis, canned cycles, turning and so on. • Use machine simulation to ease implementation. It can be a means to con‚irm new processes without tying up machining production. While the short-term solution may favor maintaining the status quo or adding new, trained staff on the current soft- ware product, the best long-term answer is often to invoke change. Following a training and implementation period, new software technology can provide a strong return to the business and be key to long-term success. Image courtesy of Knarr Group. CONTRIBUTOR Alan Levine is managing director of Open Mind Technologies USA Inc. FOR MORE INFORMATION Open Mind Technologies USA Inc. / 888-516-1232 / openmind-tech.com

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