March 4, 2013
Nesting software continues to evolve. Once a relatively simple program that allowed you to achieve a fairly decent nest with minimal engineering, today’s software provides enhanced material management and whole-operation connectivity.
Nesting software has come a long way since it was first introduced. In the past the software simply provided a quick, easy way to achieve a fairly decent nest with minimal engineering. In recent years, however, companies have been asking more and more from nesting software. Their requests have forced nesting software providers to grow their capabilities to keep up with the changing shop environment. Improvements such as quicker machine motion, better cut quality, higher yields, and faster production time all help fabrication companies gain the most from their material. So the question is, What is next for nesting software? How do you choose software for your shop’s future needs?
When choosing nesting software, the main consideration is material usage. Common-line cutting, bridge cutting, and pierce reduction techniques all have an impact on material usage and need to be considered. With these different options available in most software packages today, understanding them is key.
Most software packages offer common-line cutting, but each uses a different technique to optimize material yield. Most common-line cutting packages can be used only on identical parts. But what if you run dynamic nests with a large variety of parts? You have several options. Some nesting software can common-line-cut multiple parts at once or multiple parts on a single conjoining part. This makes common-line cutting a feasible option that can be used in everyday programs to help save material.
Pierce reduction also is an option in most nesting software. Prepiercing, a lengthy process that is fairly common among plasma programmers, requires a considerable amount of consumables and burns a large quantity of good material. Using pierce reduction tools, you can create these prepierce points on-the-fly and increase production speed without sacrificing material, thus retaining more usable material for future use.
Material tracking is an important component of any good nesting software. Remnants, or scrap pieces, which usually are thrown into a recycle bin or used to cut single parts, can be an important resource. Using nesting software, you can view what is out on the floor and actually renest on these remnants. This creates a new use for this so-called scrap.
When choosing a nesting program, give your ability to renest on remnants top priority. Be sure to select a dynamic nesting program that gives you remnant traceability and allows you then to nest on these remnants. Good nesting software also should help you establish which remnant is the best fit for a specific job. With this functionality, you can actually see your inventory, control it, and plan accordingly. Visibility and control enhancements are important elements of nesting software’s evolution.
In the past large, costly, independent database systems were used to provide visibility and control. But these systems often lacked the intelligent connection to the fabrication environment. To improve this connection, nesting software developers released their own manufacturing resource planning (MRP) systems that connect the entire operation to one database.
Basically, anyone, from a programmer to upper-level management, can see what is happening on the floor. The single database connectivity gives you the ability to track remnants, renest these remnants, and track any following operations from one source.
This single source of data helps the entire organization control stock and gain a better understanding of the operation. When a nesting program ties into actual work orders, it not only creates the best nests on material, it also helps communicate the use of this material. Accounting can receive notifications when sheets are used, and buyers can generate purchase orders for material.
You can use the information to determine your shop’s true capacity and set realistic goals. For example, you can better understand your costs and use the nesting software to lower these costs while bidding on higher-paying jobs.
Although you have many nesting software programs to choose from, the biggest factor in selecting the right package for your operation should be how it affects your bottom line. Since material is one of the largest expenses in any shop, maximizing its use needs to be a top priority.
Make sure you understand the capabilities of the nesting packages and how they differ from one another. Know your fabricating machines and how they process your material. Consider if and how the software will track your material and give you the ability to renest.
Last, when planning for the future, choose a system that connects your entire operation, allows you to see what’s happening on the floor, and positively affects the rest of your operation.