Recently patented, the optimization program BatchBan by Billco Manufacturing Inc. of Zelienople, Pa., might eliminate some of the bottlenecks fabricators face on automated production lines and improve yields, says Kevin Lear, Billco software engineer.
The software was tested at Cardinal Insulating Glass’ Spring Green, Wis., plant and has subsequently been introduced at other Cardinal IG plants nationwide.
Eric Rapp, vice president of Cardinal Glass Industries of Eden Prairie, Minn., and manager of the Wisconsin plant, said the software completes a cutting department comprising primarily Billco equipment and offering a high degree of automation including robotics and other programmable aids. A single network serves the entire plant; Cardinal technicians have fabricated their own insulating glass assembly lines and related software, with the exception of some specific modules such as BatchBan.
Cardinal installs low-conductivity stainless steel spacers and low-emissivity glass in most IG units, adding a dual-seal system of polyisobutylene and silicone. Its Wisconsin facility produces around 6 million units a year, primarily for the residential market. Three Billco cutting systems support the IG lines, working in conjunction with 108-by-144-inch Billco Ultra Series LM Cutters with Tilt Loaders supported by Model FSB Multiple Rack-Glass Storage and Crane Loading Systems. The cutters feature Z-95 SuperHeads powered through MagnaDrive systems.
Rapp licensed BatchBan software more than two years ago and said it was easy to install with little development work required at the time. “By design, BatchBan continually optimizes the remaining cutting requirements that an individual factory may have,” he says. “In doing so, it allows you to have fewer harp racks for individual lite storage and allows you to sequence those harp racks in the order that you need them.”
Typically, the Spring Green plant may cut 40-to-50 different types of glass daily. “BatchBan continually re-optimizes the remaining glass to be cut to continue to produce high yields,” Rapp says. “We completely use each piece.”
Once cut, Cardinal workers manually place the glass on the harp racks. “You may be cutting 300 pieces and you need the system to optimize and cut them to give you optimal yield, but the pieces are not cut consecutively,” Rapp says. “Cut No. 1 may come with cut No. 300, shown on an accompanying screen for a read-out indicating to you with alphanumeric characters where each piece of glass is to be placed by rack and slot number.” The racks then move to an IG line.
By eliminating the notion of a production “batch,” the software makes greater use of stock by storing and organizing an entire shift’s, day’s or week’s worth of production, according to Billco documents.
“BatchBan has enabled us to cut in a more orderly fashion, reducing the amount of work in process on the floor and maintain or slightly improve our cutting yields,” Rapp says. “It presents goods to you in the order you want to consume them and thereby helps overall work flow. We’re continuing to work with BatchBan to further take advantage of it.”
Lear explains that BatchBan requires the latest version of the Billco Optimization Software System and Billco cutting tables. BOSS can still drive other optimization programs, but they are not necessary with BatchBan. Fabricators who already use Lisec, PMC, Albat + Wirsam or other optimizing software must abandon those programs for generating cutting patterns. At the same time, BatchBan, along with BOSS, can interface with such third-party order-entry systems, as long as they provide bridge files that can import data into BOSS. BatchBan works with existing scheduling systems by providing a single ActiveX interface callable across a network. Such previous programs are “useful for order-entry, rack allocation, reporting or label printing,” according to company documents. BatchBan imports BOSS, GED and PMC bridge files and Billco technicians will work with customers to import other formats. For more information, visit www.billco-mfg.com.