At Secal, we are futureproofing against the industrywide recruitment crisis that is leading to a lack of available skilled engineers. It is not a secret that within the manufacturing industry we are entering a shortage of skilled workers. According to ‘The Manufacturer’ an overwhelming proportion of respondents, close to 70%, stated that they struggle to recruit experienced and skilled workers. This week, Jeremy Corbin, speaking at an EEF conference, said he was concerned that our skills crisis would turn into a catastrophe. He was referring to the impact of the reduction of skilled migrants.
Like many companies in the engineering sector, we are planning for the future. We have previously talked about our well-established apprenticeship program and we are also investigating new technology to standardise our manufacturing processes and make them more accessible to less experienced employees.
Our latest improvement is the introduction of Radan 3D and Radbend.
Radan 3D is a modelling package designed to simplify sheet metal design and engineering assembly modelling. Our engineers use Radan 3D in conjunction with Inventor, producing accurate drawings for the machines at Secal, using Inventor for assembly work and Radan 3D for our lasers and punch machines. Radan 3D specifies the desired material type and thickness, with the capability to view the drawn part from all angles. Different colours are used to code the required bends, allowing the machine to understand exactly what is required. The software accurately nests parts optimizing sheet yield and preventing waste. Intelligent guidelines are available so our skilled engineers can draw parts accurately, producing folded and cut parts to the highest standard. Our engineers have created a tooling database within the software, giving the opportunity to choose the best tool for the operation, machine and material with the ability to change if not fully satisfied with performance; it gives the machine operator and engineering department a two-way communication stream to produce the best quality parts every time.
Working along-side Radan 3D is Radbend. Radbend will support our highly skilled fold team operating Secal’s 7 press-brakes. Radband is an offline programming solution for press brakes, enabling full accurate 3D-model stimulation for the bending process. Radbend is fully integrated with Radan 3D, it is improving productivity, allowing us to reduce material waste, set-up times and is further educating our machine operators; overall it is a great investment for Secal. Radbend allows us to take a skilled operator or engineer and produce a programme of sequences that can be followed by our fold team; this is a great opportunity for in-house training with apprentices as well as existing employees.
Radan provide training courses for engineers to make full use of the software, this is also a great opportunity for our apprentice, Logan Thomas, to learn new skills during his education here at Secal. Logan said “the training provided was informative and will improve my input to the company, I have also expanded my knowledge and skills for the future.” Overall, he feels the new software provides great value to Secal and makes creating folded parts much easier as it does the maths for you. Patrick Langan, Press Brake Operator, added “it is a great aid to assist with further educating operators on press brakes, giving the opportunity to find the best tool for the job and is very easy to use.”
Radbend and Radan 3D have been very valuable for us, the comments I have received from the engineers and the press brake operators have been nothing but positive. We currently have many skilled press brake operators but future proofing for potential recruitment issues is a must for us. I now think we have the solution in place for our fold team and we expect to see a significant reduction in internal rejects due to problems relating to setup in our folding department.
For more information about the services at Secal please call 01952 588231 or visit our website www.secalltd.co.uk