Today, the market is increasingly competitive: manufacturers are asked for agility, ability to adapt to constantly changing needs, but also to comply with demands in constant growth that are manifested in increasingly tight batches and halved times. It is clear that, in such a situation, the term optimization related to the production cycles is not the usual ideal to strive for but an urgent need, an imperative to be achieved in the shortest possible time.
In practice, today it is essential to optimize the entire production cycle. The concept that productivity depends on the performance, reliability and accuracy of machines and operators must be integrated with the central role of software. In an increasingly complex and challenging market, the industry needs to refine design, sequences, micromachining, programs, team management and timing, that is all that elapses between the start of a project and a finished product that must comply with stringent standards of quality, lead time, minimize waste and errors. In a nutshell, excellent machines and competent operators are the solid foundation from which to start, but without an effective, advanced and even intuitive processing platform, the risk that various inefficiencies creep in becomes real and tangible.
Do not forget, in fact, that the traditional production cycle has to face many challenges that the software itself can provide adequate answers: we think of the setup times, which in certain processes (such as bending) end up falling violently on costs, but also to the fact that, during the prototyping phase, it happens that at the end of the process it is discovered that the piece is not correct in size. This causes a clear waste of time, since it is a matter of starting again from the technical office, as well as an obvious waste of material: in practice, inefficiencies on inefficiencies.
AMADA software and production virtualization
To meet the stringent needs of the market, we need (at least) two things: an integrated approach, which we could define holistic, towards the production cycle, and the ability to optimize it end-to-end. The AMADA software platform dedicated to the management of the production flow serves precisely this: to simplify, optimize and manage it centrally, going to accelerate the sharing of information and automation, and to bring down sources of inefficiency. The key element of the system is the digital database of AMADA (vSDD), which represents the main repository of all the information of the production cycle and allows to share them between technical offices and field operators, to achieve the time and cost optimization that is needed in today’s industrial ecosystem.
One of the key technologies of AMADA software is virtualization, the concept behind the VPSS 3i solution, which stands for Virtual Prototyping Simulation System. Through a virtual prototyping process, VPSS 3i reliably simulates the production process from the import of 2D/3D files to the offline prototyping of welding, bending and cutting processes; in this way, it allows identification (offline) of errors, bottlenecks and potential obstacles before the actual production begins, with the added optimization mentioned above
As part of the VPSS 3i solutions, AMADA provides customers with five prototyping and simulation suites - or Solution Pack, dedicated to specific sheet metal processing tasks: for example, Blanking Solution Pack for cutting machines, Bending Solution Pack for bending, Welding Solution Pack for welding and so on. Part of the components is obviously common to the different Suites, such as the CAD system AP100 EU, which includes sheet metal design and development functions, and the powerful Production Designer, which allows the import of different 2D/3D formats, the conversion into sheet metal models (3D SEM) and saving it in the vSDD AMADA database, so that it can be accessed and used by other AMADA software solutions. Production Designer is also perfectly integrated into the VPSS 3i suite as it is connected to CAM solutions.
Among the specific solutions, just as an example we mention VPSS 3i BEND, software included in the virtual package AMADA and dedicated to the management and optimization of bending operations. Strongly integrated in the AMADA vSDD database, VPSS 3i BEND automatically generates the optimal bending sequence and manages the equipment of the machine proposing the best possible layout depending on the programs and processes to be performed, so as to refine operations, reduce setup time, break down errors and accelerate production. All this, while on a practical level the operator simply scans a barcode that, drawing on the vSDD database, provides all the information necessary to carry out the work with simplicity, security and productivity. Obviously, the other packs also have specific solutions such as VPSS 3i Weld and VPSS 3i Blank (Blanking Solution Pack), which takes care, starting from a BOM, to create nesting, associate cutting attributes, generate machine codes and simulate machining, then saving the production plan in the database for direct recall in the machine via the aforementioned barcode scan.
In this way, even the most complex processes become simple and fast because coordinated by a single direction that optimizes phases and sequences, with obvious benefits in terms of cost, time, product quality and safety for those who work.