In many ways T-Top Manufacturing is a typical job shop. Employing a variety of cutting, punching, and bending equipment they are constantly searching for ways to streamline processes, maximize resources, and control costs. Like most manufacturing facilities, with diverse machines, programs, and systems, the shop floor represented the company’s largest opportunity for significant improvement.
Equipment driven by its own unique software. The result was excessive maintenance costs, redundancy, and required a number of programmers each specializing in a particular application. Additionally, OEM-supplied software generally lacked the sophistication needed to significantly impact production.
“With the purchase of a second turret punch it became clear that we could not continue to add nesting programs. We had to find a software program that would drive punch, laser, and waterjet. We couldn’t become efficient with machinery operating as islands.”
T-Top set out to standardize on a single nesting program. The single source solution had to be powerful yet easy to use. Even more important was it had to drive current and future cutting equipment regardless of type or brand.
Software was evaluated from several sources including Radan, Lantek, Stryker, and SigmaTEK. In the end SigmaTEK’s SigmaNEST® held a number of advantages over its competitors:
Strong punch package
Conformed nicely to windows-based navigation
More User friendly
Advanced overall functionality
Easy part import
About this same time T-Top began using SOLIDWORKS. Together SigmaNEST and SOLIDWORKS delivered a tremendous return on investment.
“SigmaNEST integrates seamlessly with SOLIDWORKS. We immediately saw a difference with importing entire assemblies rather than importing separate parts.”
Resulting savings represented a 75% improvement in programming time. Additionally a single programmer was now able to perform the work previously requiring three.
Shop Floor Integration
While such results were certainly noteworthy, T-Top had only scratched the surface. When SigmaTEK’s SimTrans™ was added to the equation savings skyrocketed. SimTrans is an online transaction manager bridging SigmaNEST and MRP/ERP, order entry, and other management software solutions.
Because the fabricator cuts more than 15,000 parts a year, a large material supply was traditionally kept in stock to support jobs runs. T-Top is now using SimTrans to tie SigmaNEST to the company’s ERP system. This allows just most commonly used sheets to be stocked rather than maintain an extended inventory. According to Dugan the result is a quarterly savings of $100,000.
While T-Top remains a typical job shop in many ways, it is safe to say that by embracing leading technologies they have leveraged man and machine-power into a competitive advantage. Today they are achieving new levels of production coupled with unprecedented savings. And they aren’t done yet. Thanks in large part to SigmaTEK’s SigmaNEST and SimTrans programs, T-Top is well on its way to implementing a true Just-in-Time and paperless fabrication process.