Future expansion plans include Industry 4.0 and paperless factory
Quickstep Technologies [ASX:QHL], a leading global manufacturer of composite solutions for the defence and commercial sectors, have selected and implemented JETCAM Expert nesting and the CrossTrack composite manufacturing suite to manage nesting and pre-preg composite location and life tracking for its facility in Bankstown, west of Sydney, Australia.
The company had initially identified potential improvements that could be made in nesting for their three CNC knife cutters, but after investigation saw that further benefits could be achieved in surrounding departments handling operations further on in the process, such as layup, tooling and at the autoclave. David Doral, CTO and Head of Engineering at Quickstep commented; “We were already investigating several nesting software systems, most of them limited only to nesting. We came across JETCAM in January 2020, after being recommended by an existing CrossTrack user and looked at the wider implications of such a system.”
Eastman cutter at Quickstep Technologies, being driving by JETCAM Expert nesting software.
CrossTrack is automatically importing orders for parts and generating NC code for multiple cutters with just a couple of clicks.
The project has been broken down into two phases – the first was to roll out CAD import and nesting, to immediately benefit from the material efficiencies of JETCAM’s high performance nesting. Phase two will expand CrossTrack to the shop floor, allowing staff to schedule nests for cutting, track layup tools and monitor the location and shop/shelf life of both raw material and kits around their facility. After performing a nesting benchmark comparison with several systems it was clear for Quickstep that the ROI in material savings alone would offer a payback in just 6 months for phase one of the project.
The decision to select CrossTrack was made in May 2020 based on both affordability and current and future functionality. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it was decided that both installation and training had to be performed remotely. JETCAM created a virtual environment, based on Quickstep’s CNC configuration, and generated and tested a replica installation in-house. Once proven, the software was installed and tested remotely the following month, with sample NC code immediately proven. The first test nest was produced within two hours of the first remote installation connection and further training provided online. A virtual machine was created on the same server with a replica of their JETCAM/CrossTrack setup, allowing Quickstep to plan and test the rollout of phase two in a duplicate environment without impacting on their day-to-day operations and system configuration.
Martin Bailey, General Manager of JETCAM International s.a.r.l. noted; “The pandemic forced us to think about this implementation in an entirely new way, which will become a blueprint for future installations. We worked closely with Quickstep’s IT and engineering staff along with our own staff across multiple time zones to minimise the installation and configuration time online. The implementation was fast because CrossTrack is a standard off-the-shelf solution. It’s designed specifically for composite manufacturers and bridges the gap often left by financial-driven ERP system.” David Doral commented about this point that “remote installations across different time zones can be challenging and grind a project to a halt. JETCAM have been very responsive and flexible when providing training and support. Clear communication and transparency from both teams have been crucial in delivering a solution that not only suits Quickstep’s needs but is on-time and budget.”
CrossTrack prepreg composite material nesting software
Phase 2 will extend CrossTrack to provide automatic roll allocation when nests are created and raw material/ply location and life tracking.
Quickstep also benefitted from the JETCAM University – an online portal for customers providing hundreds of tutorial videos covering every aspect of the software. This allowed staff to back up their knowledge obtained through the online training with short videos focussed on specific tasks.
As Quickstep had many legacy nests in DXF format that they wanted to import they also took a short-term subscription of JETCAM Order Controller (JOC), which includes DXF splitting. This drastically reduced the work required to get this data into CrossTrack. Once split, they were able to create a CSV file containing both individual ply and assembly (part) information and import them with just a few clicks.
Just two weeks after installing the software the company is entering the final stage of testing, after which they will switch to CrossTrack to generate all of their nests. Quickstep’s preliminary results indicate a 3% savings in pre-preg material consumption is almost a given. These benefits will be applied to Quickstep’s main program, but the company is expecting to increase the magnitude of those savings when the system is applied to all their cutting operations. They will then start the testing of phase two before rolling it out later this year. Investigation is already underway as to how CrossTrack might help with managing layup tools and scheduling for the autoclave. David Doral finalised; “As part of our strategic plan to constantly drive operational improvements through new technology investment, we are looking at various options going forward, where CrossTrack will be integrated with our ERP system, provide Industry 4.0 functionality and help us enable a completely paperless shop floor. With the system already paying for itself in a few months on material savings alone, any further savings will go straight on the bottom line.”
About QUICKSTEP HOLDINGS
Quickstep Holdings Limited (ASX: QHL) is the largest independent aerospace-grade advanced composite manufacturer in Australia, operating from state-of-the-art aerospace manufacturing facilities at Bankstown Airport in Sydney, NSW and an R&D/ process development centre in Geelong, Victoria. The group employs more than 270 people in Australia and internationally. Quickstep is partnering with some of the world’s largest aerospace/defence organisations including Lockheed Martin (US), Northrop Grumman (US), Boeing Defense (US), and BAE Systems (UK), as well as Victorian-based Marand Precision Engineering and Chemring Australia. Quickstep is currently working on new opportunities with a number of additional defence and aerospace companies.
David Doral – CTO and Head of Engineering
Quickstep Holdings Limited
361 Milperra Road,
+61 (2) 9774 0300
About JETCAM International s.a.r.l.
JETCAM International has been developing and distributing its JETCAM Expert range of CADCAM software since 1986, serving the sheet metal and aerospace/automotive composite cutting industries. In use in 82 countries worldwide, JETCAM software supports virtually every CNC punching, laser, plasma, routing, waterjet and flatbed cutting machine available today, and provides automation and Industry 4.0 IIoT connectivity. The software has received various accolades and awards due to its high level of automation and fast return on investment.
JETCAM International s.a.r.l.
9 Boulevard Charles III
+44 (0)870 760 6469