Three cutting technologies, a single software in the Marchesini Group

The Marchesini Group is a cutting edge company supplying complete lines and machines for packaging. Alma software is the one single system for programming machines used in their plants, whatever the cutting technology. While being connected to the Baan management system, act/cut drives simultaneously laser, waterjet and routing machines.

Situated in the heart of Bologna’s ‘Packaging Valley’ (Emilia Romagna region, Italy), the Marchesini Group has become a leader in the supply of complete lines and machines for packaging thanks to the originality and reliability of its products. The figures are evidence of this success with over 9.000 systems installed worldwide, an overall income of 150 million Euro in 2007 and orders growing continuously.

Founded in 1974 at Pianoro near Bologna, where you will still find its headquarters today, Marchesini has been able to form a solid group which, through acquiring and forming partnerships with complementary companies in the sector, is able to handle the entire packaging process, from start to finish for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. Today the Marchesini Group is divided into three separate production divisions, six acquired companies and two partner businesses. Each of these can boast experience in the design and creation of machinery for packaging in specific production areas.

An offer available ‘off the rack’ which can be tailor made to suit the clients needs

Marchesini Group provides complete lines for packaging which are highly personalized to the client’s requirements. “The packaging sector”, asserts Managing Director Maurizio Marchesini, is in continuous evolution and so, in order to be competitive, it is necessary to stay in continuous contact with technological innovation. We are convinced that we are the perfect partner and together we can explore new possibilities and find the ideal solution for the needs of our clients.”

In this way, the Group’s strategy is centred on research and development, in order to provide the client with an ever more complete product range. This is coupled with the tailor’s care and attention to detail when it comes to design, after sales service and assistance on a global scale. For this reason, the engineering and design phases for every machine are carried out at the head office in Pianoro in close collaboration with the Marchesini technical team and the clients themselves. The machines are produced in one of the Group’s various facilities before being assembled into complete lines in a central production unit and then forwarded to clients all over the world.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the Marchesini Group is that headquarters serves as the cement holding the various companies together by using the same means of design and information exchange in every phase of production. In this context, the need to reduce the machine’s programming time in their production plants has led the company to rely heavily on Alma’s act/cut Professional programming software. This unique solution is able to offer a CAD/CAM support for all cutting machines with a powerful nesting capacity capable of memorizing and re-utilizing off-cuts and above all an automatic dialogue interface with the Baan management system.

The ability to manage the nesting and the saving of various sheet off-cuts in order to re-utilize them in later runs was very important in making our choice for act/cut. In addition, one of the things that tied us to choosing act/cut was the possibility guaranteed by Alma of interfacing their programming software to our Baan management system.

Managing the automatic archiving of off-cut shapes at various levels

Apart from optimizing the use of materials, Marchesini’s principal expectation with the software is to cut just a few parts from one sheet, unload the off-cut and then update and re-utilize it various times to cut small quantities or even single parts. “We are specialized in the working of specific sheet metal and aluminium parts necessary for the construction of the lines” explains Mirko Fortunati, manager of one of the production facilities, “and we don’t produce large numbers of parts. Moreover, our production is based on small series, prototypes or even single parts and this is why the ability to manage the nesting and the saving of various sheet off-cuts in order to re-utilize them in later runs was so important in making our choice.”

The nesting program of the Alma software, apart from the automatic functions, is very flexible and allows the automatic archiving of the off-cuts at different levels so that it is able re-utilize even the off-cuts from off-cuts. “In our workshop, we have a Trumpf laser cutting machine and two Flow waterjet cutting machines with a working field of 3,000 by 1,500 mm”, points out Mr Fortunati. It is unlikely that we will use the whole field so we need to be able to store the off-cut and use it again, especially considering the cost of primary materials today. The functional capability of the nesting module integrated into the act/cut software allows us to save the ‘skeleton’ after nesting. This can take place automatically, semi automatically or manually. This means that with the set up of the next production run using that skeleton, the outline and shapes of the parts already removed are shown and taken into consideration by the system as holes present in the sheet. When the skeleton is presented again the nesting module recognizes it and takes into account previous holes for the next nesting operation.”

The only programming system for all the machines, routing included

The flexibility and simplicity of programming offered by the act/cut immediately let Marchesini see the possibility of having a single programming system for various machines, even though the company is dealing with different technologies including CNC routing. “We become aware of this necessity and possibility when we were choosing the system. As work load increases it becomes fundamentally necessary to be able to program operations both using the waterjet and the laser cutting machines with just one software system used by just one person. As well as this, the use of a single programming system in each of the group’s production plants puts us in the position where we can strategically interchange. If, for example, in another plant in Calderino where we work with plastics, we have a problem with the program, we can intervene and help them to overcome the difficulty.”

Some of the specific functions of the act/cut make it suitable for programming routing operations as well when working with aluminium and plastic. Alma has also recently supplied Marchesini with the CAD 3D interface which imports CAD files and automatically applies milling tools to geometries while recognizing their three dimensional forms. Initially aimed at the 2,5 axis machining of wood panels but of course suitable for plastics, this interface uses the STEP and IGES formats to read the 3D designs from Pro/ENGINEER, the CAD system adopted by Marchesini. Once the principal face to be worked on is chosen, with the possibility of identifying the fibre direction of the material specified in the files provided by the CAD software, the interface automatically applies the milling, hole pocketing and drilling processes to the 3D designs based on the three dimensional model of the part. After this, it transforms the 3D model into 2D which contain the operations and the distances between the parts for the next nesting, while taking into account the space limitations of the tools involved. At this point the parts are ready to be optimized by the nesting process on the various formats of the sheets and then processed into NC files.

The use of a single programming system in each of the group’s production plants puts us in the position where we can strategically interchange.

The import/export interface for Baan management

“One of the things that tied us to choosing the act/cut software,” explains Mirko Fortunati, and a fundamental element in making the decision was the possibility guaranteed by Alma of interfacing and connecting the programming software to our Baan management system.” This is the hub, around which the entire Marchesini Group rotates, from the client’s order, through the whole series of sequential processes, both with the production of single parts and components for the creation of machines and finished lines. So Alma has developed this specific interface for importing and exporting production orders. It allows act/cut to import management information regarding formats and the quantities of materials in the warehouse, off-cuts and partially used sheets and the orders for parts to be produced with quantities, materials and thicknesses. At this point, the act/manager module groups similar parts according to material and thickness and automatically generates the job order. Once the process has been carried out, act/cut automatically sends information relating to formats and quantities of material used for the production run. This includes quantities of parts produced and processing times which allow the Baan system to calculate the right production time and consequently the correct price for every single piece.

While talking about the benefits obtained with the adoption of the act/cut software, Mirko Fortunati underlines the extreme ease with which the Alma system can be used in general and then places particular emphasis on the nesting function for common cuts when driving the Flow water cutting machines. He then speaks very highly of the excellent professional conduct of the Alma people who, even though they were providing a cutting edge software product, made themselves completely available, personalizing and optimizing their outstanding product to the real needs of the Marchesini Group.

Marchesini machines managed by Alma:

– Router SCM Group RD125N with CNC NUM1040
For routing, pocketing, drilling and marking of plastics (Plexiglass, PVC, Teflon, etc.)

– Water Jet FLOW T11 with CNC S840D
For waterjet cutting and marking of steel, inox, AntiCorodal aluminium, Plexiglass, PVC, Teflon, rubber, etc.

– Laser Trumpf L3040
For laser cutting of steel, inox, AntiCorodal aluminium.

© 2008 – Alma

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