With technological advance comes the need for new skill sets and methodologies. A recent article from Modern Machine Shop delves into Nolte Precise Manufacturing’s transition from cam actuated machine tools to CNC servo-driven machines, focusing on the use of specialized software – including a DISCUS Software inspection package – to drive the manufacturing process. While the move has not always been simple, according to the man in charge of the company, Doug Coster: “it has been worth the effort.”
Software is a Key Strategy to Serve a Diverse Customer Base
Originally a screw machine production house, Nolte has successfully survived the transition to CNC servo-driven machine production, shifting support functions from the traditional mechanical methods to modern processes like CAD/CAM programming. Difficulties and complexity arising from the chip-making side of the business, including dealing with a more diverse customer base and managing the “what, how, and when” of machining has led Nolte and many other shops to depend on shop management software for their day-to-day operations.
Nolte uses Shoptech’s E2 data collection software for quoting, order entry, shipping and accounting. The E2 software acts as a general router, describing how a part processes through the shop and creating the manufacturing plan for the job. However, the complexity of the entire procedure calls for the use of even more specialized computational support.
The other software package Nolte uses complements its E2-generated manufacturing router by creating an inspection plan that travels with the router to the shop. It uses a software package from DISCUS that is especially designed for inspection. They are autonomous software systems, Mr. Coster says.
Automating the Entire Inspection Process
DISCUS’ software package allows Nolte to automatically match incoming customer prints to the shop’s quality plan. “Before we automated this function, Mr. Coster says, “I had an engineer manually balloon prints as they came in from the customer. He would fill in the numbers, get the inspection report, type the data into the inspection report, highlight what the features were, what the acceptance criteria were, how we were going to measure the first article and subsequent parts as needed. DISCUS allowed us to automate the entire process. And automatically generate PPAP and other inspection forms based on the inspection data requirements from the customer. That has been a big help for Nolte.”
For a company of Nolte’s size, having custom software developed for manufacturing purposes is not an option. Although significant modifications to internal procedures were required to accommodate the E2 software, with the help of Discus technology Nolte is a now smoothly functioning organization.