PieceMaker Programming Information
PieceMaker is a registered trademark and copyright of EMI. PieceMaker Software works with ROUND MATERIAL ONLY. It is supplied with the machine and will be kept current through the calendar year of purchase.
It will not expire but like all software in time, if not kept current, will obviously become less supportable and be missing any updates or new features. In general an update or new feature is released 2-3 times per year.
There is an annual maintenance fee to remain current. In most cases this is simply a remote software update. The more years that go by between installed updates the higher the chances of the process becoming complicated and involving an onsite visit.
The associated expenses and time are billable at standard rates. This is usually but not always known up front. As with any software, there will be a point where hardware may need to be updated to keep up with new function and features. Any required hardware updates are not included.
PieceMaker not only creates geometry and G-Code but handles the other aspects of running the machine such as torch control, lift management, auto-loading, and part nesting.
The software’s strength is that generally anyone involved in the industry who is adept at reading prints or who can sketch the desired structure with a pencil can program accurate circular cross section parts (tube and pipe) without an additional CAM package.
PieceMaker does have some limitations to the kind of geometry it will create. Most everything hand rail and many structural people get involved in is covered but please discuss your application with your sales engineer. Programming can be done at the machine or in an office with network connectivity.
This is particularly helpful for companies without engineering resources who are just interested in making pieces from sketches or supplied prints. Many of our customers fit into this category.
PieceMaker has limited but increasing data importing abilities.
First, it imports cut lists for previously programmed parts. Second, importing piece and batch level data by customers who are savvy with Access databases and who managed to get the relevant data formatted themselves. Generally it should be assumed that the structural steel packages will not, on their own, output suitable data to program or run the machine without 3rd party manipulation.
Having said that there is a 3rd party import option we have is a module for TEKLA. We are working towards building one for SDS/2.
These modules come at additional cost and require their own support packages. Please research this subject thoroughly prior to purchasing a TPC, PieceMaker, or other related software. Please discuss this with your sales engineer carefully.
Somewhere in each programming process there is a data file prepped and sent off to or for any machine. Same thing here. The detailers will be done doing what they do and somebody in production will then want to coordinate production so each and all of the pieces get to the assembly tables in a sequence that makes sense with the rest of what is going on.
We have to keep in mind that each shop and job has its own idiosyncrasies on how they handle miters and bends and weep holes and corner posts and while the detailers show final dimensions there are a lot of parts done per your preferences and historical procedures that will not come from the model. If your fitters are anything like most I have met they currently make the joints the way they want them regardless of what may or may not show up in the model.
The machine operator will do these mods at the machine without TEKLA or SDS/2 or the model. He will simply be looking at the prints and understanding what the fitters/welders want. We provide the necessary tools for the production people to get the job done with their shop based requirements and preferences.
1.0 Our machine is going to work for 90-95% of parts in a typical job. I would say the deciding factor has a lot to do with the other tools and resources in the shop. It is sometimes just better to do special parts in other ways. Like 19’ pieces….They are still usually sawn. There are exceptions to every rule.
2.0 The Export/Import software is going to work for most of the parts on some jobs and a few of the parts on other jobs.
3.0 Exporting/Importing parts with bends does not work. Hand programming these parts might/will in most cases work.
4.0 Some customers use pipe caps to make corner posts some do not. This is never in the detailers details it is only in the shop floor manufacturing process. There is no export tool that will get from what some software engineer thinks you might do to the way your grandpa did it. Handrail shops are full of grandpa’s way of doing things and often for some good but forgotten reasons.
5.0 Some customers bend corners even when the print is modeled as a miter. Some do the opposite. The export tool is only going to miter the miters. It will not be able to imagine/predict whatever it is that the shop guys do when management is looking let alone when they are not.
6.0 Actual material utilization seems to stay about the same because the number of bad parts goes down. Initially it will look like the nests are not as tight as the BIM software nests. PieceMaker’s nesting is pointed at production rates not material utilization. Labor always trumps material in a miscellaneous metals shop.
7.0 We have a lot of customers very happy and making lots of money hand programming each part. It makes me feel good to know these are typically the little guys who are used to working real hard and that they can enjoy a competitive advantage over the really smart big companies who throw it all away in administration. It makes me sad that we can now see that the administrative load of dealing with the big companies is regular and predictable but not directly accounted for or offset in the pricing.
8.0 In every case so far the operators have risen to the challenge and made time and money for their companies.