TDM case study – SANDVIK

Faced with the growth of tooling data, Sandvik Coromant’s Mebane, NC production facility turned to TDM System’s Tool Lifecycle Management software to streamline its production operation.

TDM case study – Sandvik explains how the production facility in Mebane improved efficiency using TDM software. 

Improving management of process data is key to efficient production

Sandvik Coromant needed a better way to track and manage tools and streamline production. “Managing costs, important information, optimise processes are important to a company like Sandvik Coromant,” says Julio Vasconcelos, Engineering Manager at Sandvik Coromant’s plant. “We value digital solutions, lean manufacturing and efficiency.” 

Sandvik Coromant Mebane produces approximately 3,000 tools each month. The production includes mostly standard rotary tools (mills and drills) but some special tools as well. The company maintains data on tools it has already made and shipped. To produce all these tools, it uses over 2,000 primary tool assemblies (tools, collets, holders). 

Lost information caused tremendous costs

“Along with downtime, which of course translates into extra cost, at a certain point, we realised just how much money we were spending on lost information. There was some information stored in process documents for particular product lines, and there was information that resided in our CAM system, and there was also some information that resided only in EXCEL spreadsheets. Keeping track of that information was difficult. It just wasn’t efficient. It was challenging for our people to remember where to put everything, and everybody seemed to have a little bit different take on how particular tools were used. This, too, was a situation that was costing us time and money.”

Leandro Pereira, Automation Engineer at Sandvik Coromant Mebane, remembers it well. “Everybody had their own process of dealing with information, and where they kept the information varied. Perhaps most detrimental was the fact that the information wasn’t necessarily being shared amongst different users.”

Linked Tool Data

“Tool Lifecycle Management ensures tool data is available where it is needed, when it is needed,” explains Robert Auer, Director of Business Development N.A. for TDM Systems. “It links CAM systemspresetting and crib systems, as well as CNC machine controls, but it can also extend upstream to the planning and execution level, such as PPS, ERP and MES systems.”

“So many companies have standalone areas of information,” says Auer. “This is because the old process has always been to get a job and turn it over to engineering to design and plan the process, then turn it over to NC programming. Once the NC program was defined, they would take the program to the shop and look for the tooling for the job. The machine operator would then see if he had what he needed to make the part, based on his preference for tooling.”

“In a typical company they have tooling data everywhere,” Auer continues, the key point is that there is no central tooling system and this information isn’t digitally traceable or searchable.”

TDM tool management software

The power of information with tool data management

Getting organised began with the actual definition of the tools, the first step in Tool Lifecycle Management. This was no easy task for the Mebane production facility with its thousands of tools and tool assemblies.

“Using TDM tool graphics and equipment production modules takes the guesswork and uncertainty out of tool creation,” says Vasconcelos. “TDM allows managing the tool data from the CAM software, to simulation, through to the machine and operator.

“We needed a simulation system that sent info into CAM and ultimately to the machine tool operator. From TDM we export files to our simulation program. Now the programmer can trust the tools he’s using and be confident that what is passed onto the operator from simulation is correct.”

“We can use that complete information anywhere. We don’t have to unnecessarily change a tool when a new product comes in, saving time and money,” continues Vasconcelos. “And the system can classify the desirability of options, so we don’t have to have less than desirable assemblies in the machine (holder, collet, tool), saving space.”

TDM is vital for machining productivity

“Keeping track of our thousands of tools and tool components used to be a headache, and consume needless people hours,” continues Vasconcelos. “Now we know what we need to stock in terms of cutting tools, tool assemblies, you name it, so that’s definitely streamlined the purchasing function.” he adds. Another benefit was reduced inventory expenses, since a full knowledge of their tools and the capabilities of those tools has allowed them to reduce their purchases in some areas.

Summing up, Vasconcelos judges that “TDM has become a vital part of our successful operation and an element in our vision of the future.” And what is that vision? “We don’t see ourselves as merely being a better tool factory, we’re interested in being the best.”

TEKNOVA is the official sales and aftersales agent of TDM Systems GmbH in Australia and New Zealand and we can scope and implement TDM tool management software in your CNC manufacturing operations in order to reduce tool costs, increase machining productivity and maximise tool potential. 

To find out more about TDM software visit our website.

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