How to test and review CADCAM software for your company - Questions to analyze
Questions to analyze:
1 How many machine tools do we need to program? Will one or two seats (licenses) of a particular CAM software be sufficient to program machine(s) we have or do we need more than that? The answer to this question will very much depend on the level of automation and functionality you select for your new CAM system, but remember that more seats (licenses) also require more personnel to operate them. It is a false economy to save x amount of cash not buying advanced automation where available, if you then spend two, three times as much on personnel salaries within the first 12 months!
2 Should we replace existing CAM systems programming other machines within our facility to consolidate programming of all machine tools into one system?
3 Does the vendor have postprocessors for all of our machines and if not, are they capable to develop the ones they do not have?
4 How easy is it to get information in and out of the system (such as CAD files, reporting etc)?
5 If we need more than one seat (license) of the software, do we need them to all run concurrently? (Some vendors offer floating licenses which allow a set number of users to work with the system simultaneously)
6 What type of parts are we nesting? Do we need automatic nesting, and if so do we need rectangular or free form? How important is nesting efficiency? Are we cutting now or in the future expensive materials, ie. composites?
7 How much automation do we require? Can the CAM system we are evaluating be integrated with our MRP system? Can our MRP system supply the CAM system with component orders automatically? Can the CAM system receive such automatic ordering and report back to MRP current status? Would we like the CAM system to run and execute component orders and program machines unattended?
Like many industries the CAM business has a vast array of acronyms and terms to describe functionality. Whilst there will be features that you know you definitely will need, do not get too bogged down in creating a features list. Concentrate on the end goal accurate and efficient CNC programs to drive your machines, with the minimum amount of effort required to generate it. What you are prepared to pay (specifically in regards to automation) will essentially dictate the level of effort that will be required. Low cost systems might generate accurate NC code but it may not be optimised to run quickly on the machine, may waste material through inefficient nests and may be cumbersome to use. Automation may come at a price, but the savings quickly mount up and can often easily be quantified, making what might seem like a steep investment much more palatable.