The client is a manufacturer of custom hollow metal doors and frames operating out of 100,000 square feet of manufacturing facility in the West Coast, USA. With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, the company supplies order-to-manufacture doors and frames across the country.
The sheet metal manufacturer wanted to:
- Reduce design lead time and bring down errors in Bill of Materials to zero.
- Engineers needed to restructure the drawings folder to organize manufacturing drawings and NC files to feed the data directly to CNC machines for cutting.
Door designs that were developed from scratch could not be automated using SQL database as there was no data readily-available. These complex sheet metal designs for frames and doors with multi-component assemblies involved repetitive tasks of drawing and were error-prone which needed quick rectification.
- Hitech’s Design Automation specialists conducted an internal work flow audit for the repeat orders that comprised about 70% of the total orders.
- Half of the orders were generated from DriveWorks, so its data was available in the SQL databases which could automatically generate BoMs.
- However, for the custom doors design, models were developed from scratch which did not have any pre-existing data in SQL. It forced engineers to manually prepare manufacturing files and BoMs which were prone to errors.
- The team suggested developing Macros using VB tools to fetch data from SolidWorks models and properties, and populate it to SQL database to automate BoM generation.
- This tool was also intended to auto-generate PDF and DXF files and restructure the folder by saving drawings to the specified path.
Solution & Results.
The automation team gathered all the information related to design models, customization requests, forms for design specifications, and manufacturing capabilities. Automation in various areas began as below:
- Tools and Macro development:
- The development team created separate tools and macros in Visual Basics to address the challenges of repetitive tasks and obtaining data from the SQL database for DriveWorks generated products.
- It offered a design checklist for model steps and properties and added data into SQL for new designs to enable auto-validation.
- All SolidWorks macros created passed strict QCs and combined into one to be able to run auto-pilot mode
- VPN tunnel creation:
- It hosted the communication with the client SQL to get BoM data and merge it with the current database and enable auto-generation of BoM, cut list, and other manufacturing data.
Development of SolidWorks macros facilitated validation of various parameters such as sales orders, custom properties, and defined quality checklists. It offered:
- Perform Delete and Patch function for the small radius to reduce Machine stop because of errored DXFs
- All NC drawings were converted into DXF files automatically and renamed to unique NC no. as per CNC machine requirement.
- Automated folder structure creation based on client requirement and moved files in appropriate folders
- Assign sheet numbers, page numbers create PDFs in a structured format
100% error-free BoM creation even for new designs
Easy file search with unique NC numbers
Reduced errors in modeling tasks
Eliminated repetitive modeling tasks