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New Fiber Laser: Process Questions

New Fiber Laser: Process Questions

New Fiber Laser: Process Questions

We're an engineer-to-order manufacturer. We have a small sheet metal shop & cut all of our parts with a waterjet. We're buying a fiber laser, and we'll need to change the way we process jobs and materials to take advantage of the laser's efficiency and capabilities.

With the waterjet, we cut by job. We'd nest parts by material, and a project could have several different materials and thicknesses. Most jobs are small enough to be cut on remnants of materials. We spend lots of time loading and unloading material.

With the laser, I believe we'll want to consolidate parts by material so we can nest on full sheets and maximize efficiency. So, a sheet may contain parts for several jobs.

With the waterjet, the engineers (five of us) nested our own jobs. With the laser, since we're consolidating jobs we won't be able to (or want to) do that. I think we need a dedicated 'nesting' guy. The engineers will save the individual part files in DXF format, and he'd sort through and nest everything as he saw fit.

I'd imagine this is a pretty standard way of doing this. Instead of coming up with a system from scratch, I'd like to know if any of you could tell me how you handle this. How do you provide/organize the files... by material, or by job, or some other way? I appreciate any input, and I may have some follow-up questions. Thank you,


RE: New Fiber Laser: Process Questions

Are you paid by the job, or does the money you make come from making your laser operate "efficiently"?

What I'm asking is, would you delay one job, while waiting for the details of a second job with the same material thickness, even if the delays cascaded downstream? Of course not, if you are working in a job shop.

I'd plan to handle laser cuts just like you are doing with the waterjet, i.e. cut parts for a job, save leftovers where it makes sense, and then move on to the next job. If your company grows large enough that you are making standard parts and stocking shelves with them, you can start doing things to juggle machine "efficiency"...but even big manufacturers don't do this anymore, they try to operate as "lean" and "agile" as possible.

RE: New Fiber Laser: Process Questions

We're a combination of engineer-to-order and make-to-order. You're right - we wouldn't delay a job just to fill a sheet of material. That would be the exception though. We're large enough that most of the time there will be enough active jobs and parts to cut that we would be able to cut full sheets. If we stayed the way we were, we'd be inefficient by design. I want to put in place a method that uses the machine the way it's meant to be used, but we'll still have to break in and cut for hot jobs or emergencies as necessary.

I'm thinking most about file organization. What I'm currently thinking of doing: I could have a folder on the network where all of the files reside. Details of the parts & jobs can be saved in the file name using a format like this:


Using simple Windows search capabilities, the laser programmer could easily filter parts by material or job. He'd also have the traveler & BOM for reference (dates, etc.). Maybe he moves files into a 'Completed' folder after they're cut.

This seems like a simple, workable solution, but maybe there's another way or something I'm not considering... that was the reason for the question.

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