Diversifying to Stay Competitive
Industrial Machine & Supply (IMS) was once a leading manufacturer for textile mills but needed to diversify as the textile industry waned in its area.
Automotive, Consumer Goods, Agriculture
When Industrial Machine & Supply, Inc. (IMS) was founded in 1967, its niche was firmly set in supplying parts for textile mills in the Southeast. But by the time founder Tom Williams stepped down to allow his son David Williams to take charge, the textile industry in their area had ebbed drastically. IMS could no longer thrive on just one market.
The younger Williams made the decision to expand IMS’s capabilities to serve international industries like material handling, agriculture, automotive, and consumer goods. “We’re basically a job shop. If it’s in our envelope, we’ll machine it,” said Williams.
With this diversification came the need for more advanced technology. “I was looking at jobs I knew I could get if I could just write the programs,” Williams recalled. He knew that IMS needed a powerful CAD/CAM software to work alongside its 3-axis CNC milling machines and 2-axis CNC lathes. Manually writing G-code wasn’t an option for his evolving shop anymore. The time it would take to accurately program by hand the complicated parts Williams wanted to create was prohibitive, and he was well aware of the risk of user error inherent in complex code writing.
Williams went to the 1998 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) to find a solution. There he met Allen Drost Jr., founder of CAD/CAM Solutions, Inc. (Snellville, GA), certified Reseller of Mastercam CAD/CAM software for Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. “Drost came directly to my shop after the event, loaded Mastercam on my computer, and ran a part right in front of me. He sold me on the software right there.”
“With this software, I’m able to take on complex jobs I could never even look at before,” said Williams. Several years ago, Williams machined a facial extrusion die for the composite decking industry that would not have been possible without his CAD/CAM software.
Now he knows he could be even more efficient with some of the new functions that his software is constantly developing. “That was several years ago, and if I were to do this same part today, I would look at different toolpaths such as OptiRough for roughing out the part,” said Williams.
“Another one of our longtime customers just brought us a job that we’re very familiar with and have done before. This time, though, I said, ‘We’re going to do this differently now,’ because there are so many more toolpaths I understand now that can make this easier,” he said. “We might have done a particular job before, and it would have taken us longer and cost us more than it would now. The Dynamic toolpaths have really changed the way I look at some of the jobs we get.”
Dynamic Motion technology, or simply Dynamic, uses a revolutionary approach to maximize cutting ability while minimizing stock, tool, and machine danger. Dynamic toolpaths rely on proprietary algorithms to monitor the stock material at all times and to make immediate adjustments to cutting speed and angle. This way, the most material possible is removed while virtually eliminating the chances for tool breakage and stock gouges. OptiRough is one of these advanced toolpaths and is a go-to for removing great amounts of material in the roughing stage at previously impossible speeds.
True to form, IMS’s software is just as diverse as its shop. Williams relies on Mastercam before he even begins a job. “It helps with quoting,” he explained. “If I have a complex job – especially one that has a lot of parts to it or maybe quite a few steps and operations – I semi-program it to see my cycle times.”
Recently, Williams was called on to provide a quote for some rollers that work in a conveyor system. The v-rollers, as Williams refers to them, start as 4” diameter, 21 5/8” long bars of 4340 tempered steel. To create his quote, Williams uploaded the drawing into his software and programmed out the part to find his cycle time.
“For roughing, I could have used a traditional turning toolpath with extra step-downs if I’d wanted the cutting path to go in just one direction. With the Dynamic toolpath, though, it actually went back and forth all the way down. It saved so much time.” Williams was able to run at 1,050 surface feed per minute with a 25 percent stepover. The program, which had approximately 15 operations, took less than 11 minutes to rough before it was finished with a standard contour toolpath. Because he could cut so much cycle time with Dynamic Motion, Williams was able to present the customer with a more-than competitive quote and earned the job.
Now turning away work for being too complex is a thing of the past. When asked what IMS is capable of producing, Williams answered, “Pretty much anything. If you have any machine work to be done, send it our way; we’ll do it.”
“With this software, I’m able to take on complex jobs I could never even look at before.”—David Williams, President, Industrial Machine & Supply, Talladega, Alabama
Expanding IMS’s machining capabilities with the machines they already had
Mastercam Mill and Lathe
- Network of knowledgeable, experienced Resellers who can introduce and explain new techniques and functions.
- Intuitive toolpath creation that minimizes computer time.
- Advanced Simulation that can predict cycle times.
- Dynamic Motion technology that reduces machining time safely.