Radan has become an integral part of the production process for manufacturing a wide variety of body panels for buses.
Indicators International, based at Magherafelt, near Belfast, uses Radpunch to drive its Finn-Power E6 Punch Press that produces front, side and rear body panels, along with engine doors, rear doors and window cappings.
With one of their main customers being a major bus manufacturing company, Indicators International design engineer Sean O’Loughlin says: “It’s extremely important that the parts are manufactured with high precision. In the automotive industry the quality of the finished panels has to be perfect. We go through a lot of quality checks in the factory to ensure we get everything absolutely right, and thanks to Radan, we do.”
Features of the Finn-Power E6 include versatile punching, nibbling, forming and bending capacity all in a single machine tool – its punching speed is 900 hpm at 1 mm pitch, and the maximum sheet size without repositioning is 3,074 mm x 1,542 mm.
However, Sean O’Loughlin says they found the standard programming software that came with it was too restrictive for their needs. “I brought in Radan three years ago to increase the machine’s capability. A big plus is that it is so user friendly while saving us considerable time on tooling and nesting, along with ensuring consistency and quality.”
Generally, customers supply a 2D drawing of new parts, which he imports into Radan as an Autocad dxf file. “It’s so easy to tool it, nest it and create the CNC coding. The auto tooler is very useful in setting the tooling quickly and accurately, and a good nesting program is absolutely key for us as we need to keep the manufacturing process moving as smoothly and efficiently as possible. If the nesting isn’t right, a lot of extra tags and extra work is needed, so Radan’s nesting program saves us a lot of time,” says Sean O'Loughlin (pictured left).
Bulk quantities of aluminium produce finished panels ranging from lengths of 800 - 1,200 mm, by a metre wide. Radan also programs the Finn-Power to put the numerous fixing holes into the panels. “Again, this is a big time saver, as we have thousands of different panels. Without Radan we’d have to manually click each hole, but once the CNC programming has been done, Radpunch simply punches them all out.
Radpunch combines sophisticated technology with unrivalled ease-of-use, delivering maximum productivity. Its user interface and graphical display mean that all relevant information about the production process is readily accessible for use in future programs.
“Because we’re got thousands of Radan programs stored, we can use one of them as a template when customers bring out new panels, or alter existing ones. It saves us having to start from scratch again every time, making it so much easier to produce prototypes or make changes,” says Sean O’Loughlin.
He carries out the programming in his office and saves everything to the server. “Programming an average panel with Radan takes just a couple of minutes. When it’s done, the operator sees the program number on the Finn-Power’s screen, then simply sets the machine to manufacture the parts.”
Once a panel has been programmed, he says they know that every one coming off the production line will be the same, the holes will be in the right place, and the cuts will be perfect. “We need to produce a lot of new parts regularly, and we know that with Radan we will always get high precision, bulk parts moving through the machine quickly.”
Radpunch has strength in depth to match the sophistication of today’s punching machinery. There is comprehensive built-in support for many types of tooling, including wheels, slugless slitters, scribing tools and shears. Because Radpunch understands the engineering behind these tools, it is able to apply the appropriate constraints to the process. For example, close proximity slitting tools that allow punching near to the clamps, are fully supported. And with its huge library of post processors and machine simulation program verifiers, no other system offers such built-in understanding of sheet metal punching equipment.
Radan is also used for another aspect of Indicators International’s business – manufacturing panels for a company producing domestic step lifts.
Indicators International has been in business over 40 years, and has always majored on the automotive sector. They began by producing manually-wound destination signs at the front and rear of buses, and grew organically on to fabricating body panels.