Nov 6, 2011

Coventry Engineering enjoys triple success with FeatureCAM and Integrex

The addition of Delcam’s FeatureCAM feature-based CAM software and three Mazak Integrex mill-turn machines has been a triple success for the Coventry Engineering Group.

The combination of the mill-turn machines and a new programming system has increased productivity and shortened lead times, while maintaining consistently high quality. Coventry Engineering Group comprises three companies with a total of over sixty year’s manufacturing experience, which were brought together in a management buyout in 2003.

The core businesses are Coventry Toolholders, which designs and manufactures spindle-nose tooling and Centreline, which produces driven toolholders. The Group’s Engineering Services Division provides precision subcontract manufacturing. While it was initially established to fill any gaps in capacity in the other two businesses, the ESD has now grown into a successful operation in its own right.

“We have gained a big increase in productivity through the ability of the Integrex machines to machine many of our parts in one hit,” claimed Manufacturing Manager, Gary Skraga. “In addition, we have been able to take on much more complex parts.”

The increased complexity prompted Coventry Engineering to invest in a CAM system for the first time, having relied on manual programming for its earlier, less sophisticated equipment.

“Our first Integrex, which we added about seven years ago, allowed us to take on work that we couldn’t have attempted before,” explained Mr. Skraga. “However, as we moved into these more complex parts, programming with the manual control was becoming too long- winded so we needed to move over to using a CAM system.”

“FeatureCAM has made programming so much easier, especially the feature-recognition capabilities,” he said. “The software also gives you the flexibility to modify the toolpaths. If you don’t like anything in the program, you can override it to get exactly the results you need. In addition, the support from Delcam has been brilliant. Any issues we have are sorted out within a day.”

“FeatureCAM can take designs directly from our four seats of SolidWorks and generate the toolpaths quickly. We can also ask our customers for solid models instead of drawings. One recent project needed fourteen different drawing views to describe the part. However, with FeatureCAM, we could read in the solid model and complete the programming quite easily. When we looked at the length of the finished program, we were glad we hadn’t had to write it manually.”

“FeatureCAM has helped with our quoting because you can get a good idea of the cycle time from the simulation. It has also made it much quicker and easier to develop one-off designs on the basis of our existing models.”

Paul Pickering, Operations Director at Coventry Engineering, was equally enthusiastic about the benefits of FeatureCAM. “The Delcam software and the Integrex machines have allowed us to get into projects we couldn’t have tacked before across all the areas of our business,” he claimed. “For example, we are now adding a range of special-purpose milling heads to our portfolio for the simultaneous machining of complex parts. Previous programming systems used by the company had not given the expected benefits and were found to be lacking in certain areas. Delcam, with its close links to Mazak, came up with solutions to the difficulties that we had experienced in editing posts on such a complex five-axis machine.”

“On the subcontract side, we are also looking into new markets,” he added. “In particular, we are moving into direct machining of parts that we would have previously made from castings.”

“Our aim has always been to be highly competitive in terms of price and delivery, without any compromise in quality for speed or cost,” concluded Mr. Pickering. “FeatureCAM ensures that we can meet that objective and so is helping us to grow our business.”