Nov 14, 2011

Radan – the Cool Software for "Green" Fridges

One of the UK's leading fridge refurbishment companies uses the powerful Radan 3D CAD system for designing environmentally-friendly components which are instrumental in encouraging major superstores to think about the “green” aspects of their fridges.

Bond Retail Services has over 30 years experience of producing refurbished in-store display fridges for leading supermarket chains. Looking and performing like new fridges – and often lasting many years longer than modern cheap imports – Bond’s upgraded refrigerated cabinets offer savings of between 20 – 40% against new.

“And encouraging retailers to refurbish their fridges instead of throwing them away is much better for the environment,” says Drawing Office Manager Phil Harding. The Bond refurb process can involve partial or complete rebuilding, including new efficient evaporator coils, energy saving fans, solenoid and expansion valves, energy-saving LED lighting, internal and external panels, and energy-saving ballasts.

The world’s most powerful sheet metal CAD/CAM software, Radan, plays a key role in the production of almost all components. It creates the nests and toolpath CNC code for all parts that are cut on Bond’s two Nisshinbo punch presses, such as shelves, brackets and panels – including powder-coated colours in keeping with a store’s livery. It is also their CAD system for designing refrigeration components like coils and fans, which combine to keep the fridge operating at the required temperature.

“A key aspect is our ability to design, draw and manufacture any type of part for refrigerated display cabinets,” says Phil Harding. They have over 50,000 drawings spanning every make and model. “Producing what are often complicated assemblies would be impossible without Radan 3D’s sheet metal design and automatic unfolding. It just couldn’t be done from a 2D drawing, so Radan is an absolutely integral part of our design and manufacturing process.”

Based on the ACIS solid modelling kernel and employing modern parametric techniques, Radan 3D provides design flexibility and a unique 2D-to-3D method of creating 3D objects, along with automatic unfolding, automatic associative drawing elevations, and associative 2D dimensioning on drawing elevations and flat blanks.

“We use Radan 3D for drawing all the components; then we make anything in-house that can be punched in stainless steel and mild steel between 22 and 16 gauge. Components that need to be lasered, or manufactured in other ways such as the coils, are outsourced, but they’re all designed in Radan.”

He says customers are growing increasingly concerned with making their fridges more efficient, both from a cost-saving efficiency point of view, and wider environmental issues. “So we’re always looking to invent new products to increase efficiency, enabling us to show customers the ‘green’ aspects of refurbishing their old fridges.

“We draw the prototype of the environmentally-efficient parts in Radan and employ Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software to demonstrate air flow, air spillage, and how much cold air is mixed with warm air in the aisles. Then we highlight the percentage savings that refurbishment can give them.”

When R & D secured the budget for CFD, a system requirement was Autodesk Inventor, which they also use for rendering. “Many customers nowadays like to see a proper detailed rendering, not only of how the fridge will look, but how it will look in situ as well.” Radan is fully certified for use with Inventor under the Autodesk Inventor Certified Applications Program. The Radan designs are exported into Inventor as SAT files and then rendered.

Bond have used Radan for around 14 years; 13 adorning the drawing office wall dates back to 1997 and is for Jon Longhurst, who is now Production Director. In those days the software drove an Amada Pulsar before Bond switched to the Nisshinbo CNC turret punches with auto indexing stations, controlled via DNC link direct to Radan. “Radan’s capability of being post processed to any brand of machine means that when the time comes to replace them we can opt for any machine we like, knowing it will drive them just as well as it drives the Nisshinbos,” says Phil Harding.

the oldest training certificate in a collection of Radan’s punch press capability maximises Bond’s material utilisation with single part layout and automatic nesting, while fully supporting all the Nisshinbos’ machining features. Combining sophisticated technology with ease-of-use, it brings maximum productivity to the machine tools.

With a total of five staff currently using Radan virtually full time, three of them concentrate on the flat development and tooling in the drawing office, with a programmer on the shop floor creating efficient nests and CNC code, and an R & D technician making the most of its extensive design capabilities. Programming only takes a matter of minutes, and Phil Harding says they leave it to the shop floor because they are fully aware of the work schedule.

As well as their nationwide refurbishment service, which can be carried out at their headquarters in Sheerness, Kent, or in their customers’ stores, Bond manufactures new fridges, and also has an extensive fleet of chiller amd freezer cabinets for short or long term hire.

The Bond Group is currently lobbying the Government on the environmental downside of supermarkets throwing their old display fridges away and buying cheap replacements that may not last longer than five years They claim refurbishment is the better “green” alternative, fitting energy-saving devices to older cabinets while reusing as many components as possible.