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Tebis CAD/CAM works wonders with wood at Lawrence Automotive Interiors

Lawrence Automotive Interiors became a Tebis UK customer in 2013 after seeing the superior quality of surface finish another division of its organistion was producing using Tebis CAD/CAM software. Since then it hasn’t looked back and continues to reap the rewards of the investment.

  • The business that puts the ‘L’ in Luxury

    Lawrence Automotive Interiors (LAI UK) is a manufacturer and supplier of premium decorative trim components to the global automotive industry. Over 95% of its work is with real wood veneers, such as walnut and macassar ebony. The company has over 30 years’ experience making the interior components of luxury cars that make them the truly luxurious. Each week LAI UK’s Coventry plant produces around 15,500 components, enough to fit out 1,550 top-of-the-range cars, on just one of its production lines alone. The stunning components are shipped all over the world.

    A finished component – cut to perfection by Tebis

    CAD/CAM software is used by Lawrence Automotive Interiors to produce 5-Axis trimming toolpaths. The automation helps LAI UK consistently produce components of the highest quality through manufacturing processes that enhance the visual attributes of the exclusive materials.

  • A machine is only as good as its toolpath

    You don’t need to own a top-of-the-range car to appreciate how important the surface finish of the interior components is. So, when Kevin Challenger, LAI UK’s Coventry Plant Manager, saw the difference in quality of a part produced using a Tebis generated toolpath compared to one produced using his existing CAD/CAM system, it didn’t take him long to pick up the phone. The Tebis toolpath produced “lovely smooth lines” on the machines in contrast to the very jerky motion produced by the software LAI UK had been using for 15 years. This uncontrollable jerking had been constantly damaging the wood’s veneer and producing a sub-standard result on many occasions. Before discovering Tebis, the LAI UK team had assumed it simply wasn’t possible to consistently produce a perfect finish. But, when the first part was produced with the newly installed Tebis software, the team was “blown away by its performance”, remembers Paul Murphy, a Lawrence Automotive Interior’s CNC Programming Engineer. He continues, “Our previous CAD/CAM experience had led us to expect that we simply couldn’t make a process as capable as we wanted and we managed our operations on that basis. Tebis dramatically changed our expectations. At our very first attempt with Tebis the process output was more capable than we’d ever previously achieved or thought possible”.

    FLAI UK fixture recreated in Tebis

    Tebis simulation of component held in fixture

  • What you see is what you get

    Paul Murphy has been equally enthused by the predictability of machine movements with a Tebis-programmed toolpath compared to one programmed in the CAD/CAM system previously used by LAI UK. He explains that a key challenge for any engineer is “getting the machine to do what you want it to”. He was, therefore, very impressed and pleased to discover that “what you see in Tebis is what you see at the machine”. He highlights the value of not having to worry about unexpected or sudden machine movements when the toolpath is applied at the machine. He also comments favourably on the simplicity of the Tebis code. He estimates it’s 90% shorter than the code his previous system would have generated for the same toolpath. Furthermore, he also values Tebis’ in-built collision detection capabilities and, in future, hopes to benefit further by deploying Tebis Simulator.

    Wooden component held in fixture during machining

    The completed component

  • Tebis delivers much more than a perfect finish

    The improvement in surface finish quality alone was enough to convince Lawrence Automotive Interiors to move to Tebis. Since making the move, however, Tebis has helped LAI UK realise many more improvements, which are transforming its manufacturing processes for the better and delivering huge commercial benefits to the organisation. Transforming a sheet of wood veneer into a completed component is a complex and multi-stage process. Reducing the possibility of rework or the need to scrap a part is, therefore, highly desirable. The switch to Tebis CAD/CAM software has delivered a staggering improvement in this area for Lawrence Automotive Interiors. The elimination of jerky, unpredictable toolpaths has led, not only to a smoother finish, but also to a more reliable one. Paul Murphy estimates there has been “a 70% decrease in rework and 20% decrease in scrapping of substandard parts” since deploying Tebis. This commercial benefit alone has justified the investment in Tebis many times over. This dramatic improvement in reliability has delivered additional productivity benefits for LAI UK, which go far beyond the production of the components. With failure rates and material waste close to zero, output rates and production efficiency have increased significantly. As a result, the engineers themselves are now able to be much more productive. They no longer need to commit time to resolving production issues and can focus their skills and energy on new projects and to delivering improvements to other parts of the business – something that was previously unimaginable.

  • Setting a new benchmark for excellence

    The switch to Tebis has been a game changer for Lawrence Automotive Interiors as the more reliable operations have given the team increased confidence in its processes and products. The business is still transitioning the production of all its parts to Tebis. Paul Murphy dreams of the day when that has been achieved. “I wish every part could run as smoothly as the Tebis parts”, he says. He appreciates this transition needs to take time, but what excites him most is knowing that what was previously considered impossible is now day-to-day reality – the new benchmark for machining performance at Lawrence Automotive Interiors. And he’s also proud to be able to showcase to prospective new clients how LAI UK is developing its business and leveraging technology to improve the results it delivers.

Overview

Quote

"We were simply amazed by the quality. Right from our very first test with Tebis, the result was far better than we would have thought possible."

Features

Focus:

Optimal manufacturing of high-quality interior components

Benefits:

  • Top-quality surfaces
  • Jerk-free toolpaths on the machine
  • Significantly more efficient manufacturing

Sector:

Component manufacturing

Company:

Lawrence Automotive Interiors Ltd

Location:

Coventry, United Kingdom

Interviewee:

Kevin Challenger and Paul Murphy

Position:

LAI plant manager, CNC programmer

Published:

2015

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