How to test and review CADCAM software for your company - CADCAM tips and tricks
Points to remember:
- Automation without high reliability may be worse than no automation at all
- In general, lesser automation means more human resources are needed and the scope for costly mistakes is larger
- A well implemented reliable, highly automated and efficient CAM system can and will save your company, no matter how large or small, a sizable amount of cash in material utilization, reduction in human resources, machine utilization and other areas
In evaluating a CAM system you should also ask:
- Is this product reliable (as there is no true automation without reliability and even if not automated an unreliable system will be losing you money one way or the other). In general, the more support personnel vendor has, the less reliable and/or understandable their software will be. So if a salesman tells you that they have large support department to answer your calls, ask yourself a question why are they expecting your calls in the first place.
- Will it offer good support for all machine tools we have now and may acquire in the future? Is the software scalable so we can upgrade to support more machines, higher functionality or full automation in the future? Does this higher functionality and automation already exist and can it be demonstrated?
Other issues to consider:
- Installation - How much time, consultation and effort will be required to install and satisfactorily implement the CAM system you are contemplating to acquire and how much and for how long will it disturb your day-to-day operations? This varies dramatically between different products and vendors.
- Training - How much training is required before the CNC department is sufficiently proficient? Is the software intuitive and easy to master and use?
- Software Updates - how difficult is software update implementation? Is it as simple as inserting a CD into the drive and waiting a little while, or will it require support from the CAM vendor
- Update compatibility - will new updates be fully compatible with all work files, technology databases and settings regardless from which to which version you are updating?
Reliable answers to many of these questions can only be obtained from existing users. So ask for references and talk to them. It may save you a lot of grief in the future.