SRD Switches Up its CAM System
SRD Engineering Ltd | Bicester (Oxfordshire), United Kingdom
For any established subcontract business to switch from one CAM system to another can be a daunting prospect. When you consider the training and skills invested in staff, the legacy programs and the prospect of having to re-program those historical parts – many busy subcontract businesses will often stick to what they know.
But for SRD Engineering Ltd, 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 – a move the company is happy it made.
As a subcontract machine shop founded in 1989, SRD Engineering is an innovative 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. As SRD Engineering Production Manager, Chris Bryant says: “One of the main reasons we invested in hyperMILL® is because of the money. We were paying a subscription for our CAM software, and we wanted to pay a licence fee, we started looking around and we calculated that by switching from a subscription model to a licence we would save over £20,000 in three years.”
“We have one motorsport part that was a batch of over 130 parts and the cycle time was over 3 hours per part. By re-programming this job with hyperMILL®, we have reduced the cycle time by 45 minutes per part.”
Chris Bryant, SRD Engineering Production Manager
The financial savings should be enough to turn the heads of any subcontract business, but when the lower-cost alternative has a reputation like hyperMILL®, and its performance and innovation is industry-leading – why wouldn’t you make a change? During the initial period of getting used to OPEN MIND Technologies hyperMILL®, SRD Engineering felt the system was comparable to its previous system. However, once the subcontractor started to get familiar with the features of hyperMILL®, that perception changed. As Chris continues: “Now that the guys have got used to hyperMILL® and gone through a transition period, it’s definitely better.”
“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.”
With regards to productivity gains from hyperMILL®, Chris continues: “Since we have been using hyperMILL®, we have definitely 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% 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 the savings on these complex components has been impressive. “We have one motorsport part that was a batch of over 130 parts and the cycle time was over 3 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 10 hours to 5 hours per part – a 50% cycle time reduction,” continues Chris.
Since investing in OPEN MIND’s hyperMILL® 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 support has been incredible. Unfortunately, we made the change during Covid, so that didn’t help with things, but the support and online training has been very good. We even had specialist Teams meetings, so we had any queries the development engineers at OPEN MIND would look into it and try and make the processes better for our engineers. The OPEN MIND team are customer-led in the development of the product to stay ahead of the curve. They want to have the best product out there and the best way to do that is by speaking to the customers and developing the product with the customers.”
“We have also invested in some 3-axis and 4th-axis machines, and we will be running hyperMILL® on those machines in the near future too. We really want hyperMILL® being used on as many machines as possible because of the capability it gives us. We have no regrets from making the switch over - we are saving money, the machines are producing parts quicker than ever before and the surface finishes and overall quality has improved too,” concludes Chris.