We require plenty of automation, and that's why ESPRIT has been good for us.
— Dan Westwood, Methods Department Supervisor
Working Round the Clock
Three shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's a day in the life at Hoerbiger Corporation of America, where 100 new jobs — each requiring programs and routers — hit the floor each day.
With roughly 800 daily jobs and just four programmers, the team at Hoerbiger hasn't the luxury of time to spare. "We require plenty of automation, and that's why ESPRIT has been good for us," says Dan Westwood, methods department supervisor at Hoerbiger.
Hoerbiger approaches its programming duties in three different ways: Some of its parts require manual programs, while others are designated for "semi-automatic" programs and still others are slated for "fully automatic" programs.
"Sometimes, when we do have a solid model available, I can just take the solid model into ESPRIT and run the KB (KnowledgeBase™) manager," says CNC Programmer Mark Grecko. "It will recognize all the holes, apply the processes and create the program in two or three minutes."
Working on the Fly
"At Hoerbiger, ESPRIT is used off the shelf, where we bring in solid models or create geometry there in the software, and have a programmer create everything on the fly," says Westwood, who adds that the company has designated "product families" of similar parts for which automation is ideal.
To do so, the team at Hoerbiger uses automation tools like the ESPRIT KnowledgeBase and API (application programming interface).
Automation at Work
"We've also spent some time developing fully-automated programming systems for our main product lines, where we can use the API and Visual Basic programming and actually not have a person run ESPRIT, but have a piece of software run ESPRIT," Westwood says.
This automation allows Hoerbiger to feed ESPRIT a list of part numbers so that the software can run unattended, creating programs without any user interaction at all.
"Over my long history of working in this machining and manufacturing environment, I've used lots of pieces of software," Westwood says. "There are only a few that can really handle multi-axis machines, multi-tasking machines and B-axis machines with part transfers. ESPRIT is very good at it and once you get into that sort of machining, it really narrows down the field of pieces of software that will do the job for you."