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Integrity Tool and Mold Takes Aim at the Top, with Help from Tebis

This once small shop has grown into a $150 million company and world leadership in the moldmaking industry in less than a generation.

In recent years, Integrity’s drive for continuous improvement and commitment to goals like quality and efficiency have been aided by Tebis software from Tebis America, Inc., a pathbreaking company which, like Integrity, is committed to finding innovative new solutions to existing problems. Tebis is an integrated suite of CAD/CAM products. Apart from the power of the many individual modules, the fact that each module uses the same database and user interface maximizes the speed and accuracy with which part data can be moved into production, a key factor in Tebis’ rapid growth over the last decade. 

             Jason Henderson, CNC Programmer and operator on the 5-axis Fidia GTF 35 machining centerJason Henderson, CNC Programmer and operator on the 5-axis Fidia GTF 35 machining center.

“In 2011 Integrity started to move to Tebis in a big way,” recalls Vernon Benson, Tebis Account Manager. “They had a strategic vision of having one main software comprehensive enough to encompass their entire process, with all of the advantages that would bring, and from their research they determined that Tebis could be that software. They were also attracted by the capabilities of individual modules.”

Like simulation. “It’s vital that we thoroughly and realistically check our programs before we release them to the shop floor,” says Ryan Hotchkiss, Director of Manufacturing for Integrity. “Tebis allows us to do that and be very confident in implementing lights out machining.  A few years ago,” he adds, “we were using a different simulation software and we didn’t have the confidence to run lights out in a significant way.”

  • What accounts for this difference?

    That confidence comes from the multiple capabilities of the Tebis software module. It allows users to reproduce entire machining sequences and do it on virtual versions of the machines on their floor. Helping to optimize machine operation are functions like collision avoidance, tool length checking, and the ability to interactively define optimum tilt direction.

    These tools are particularly useful for 5-axis milling, which is increasingly important for Integrity. Prior to actually writing a machining program, the Tebis simulation software gives users a decided edge insists John Kowalczk, Tebis’ Senior Manager, Global Strategic Accounts. He says it does this in a number of ways, such as its ability to perform extensive analysis of tool tilt directions, alluded to above, along with collision avoidance functions that employ models of the user’s actual tools taken from the Tebis tool library. Additionally, Tebis simulation helps users assess the productivity and surface qualities of machining programs before any metal is cut.

    Ryan Hotchkiss, Director of Manufacturing (left) and Tyler Upham, CNC Programmer review Tebis and a machining project on
    a Promac Sharav GVT 5-axis machine.

    The benefits of this robust simulation capability are many. Along with the unattended, lights-out machining mentioned earlier, with its concomitant reduction in time and expense, it helps prevent tool damage and expensive post-collision repairs to the machines, and reduces setup and run times. Additional downstream effects include improved accuracy, less rework, and high-quality surface finishes. It also provides support for job costing, a vital aid in planning and scheduling.

    Kowalczk mentions another benefit of the Tebis simulation module, one that is often overlooked; namely, that it is a fully integrated part of the Tebis software system. Generally simulation users employ third-party simulation software, forcing them to repeatedly transfer data into and out of their CAD/CAM systems. “As a result, says Kowalczk, “programming is slowed and opportunities for error are increased. With the Tebis integrated system this doesn’t happen.”

  • Automation standardizes programs and supports speed

    The process at Integrity entails much more than just simulation, as important as that is. “The automation in Tebis, with features like their template style programming, has been very valuable for us,” says Hotchkiss.

    The automation he speaks of draw on the Tebis process libraries. These reflect the actual manufacturing environment. All tools, machines, and clamping devices are stored there along with their geometric and technical properties. This benefits NC programmers as they select the appropriate machine in this virtual environment, define the optimal setup and select the appropriate tools, speeds and feeds.

    “So, the program is partially written beforehand,” notes Benson. “The programmers can then employ our feature-based, template style approach, aided by robust algorithms within Tebis that speed preparation and programming, even for large components and complex geometries. Programming speed is also boosted by our ‘Tool Match’ and ‘Multiple Setup’ functions. Plus, Tebis’ simultaneous calculation processes are a key factor in shaving time off the process.”

    “The keywords are to simplify and speed,” stresses Hotchkiss. This is a benefit for any shop but especially for one like Integrity that has expanded so quickly oftentimes it is difficult to find quality programmers. Here’s where Tebis can play another vital role. Its template based programming standardizes similar programs so that a new programmer can get up and running faster than with another software. This makes the task of finding skilled labor a bit less daunting.

    Of course, a fast and simple process that resulted in a mediocre product would not be much of an advantage. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Tebis. “Tebis programming is superior,” says Hotchkiss. “It is a robust, surface-based machining software that doesn’t depend on mesh models, which is especially valuable for Integrity since our products feature highly complex surfaces that require a high-degree of accuracy.”

    Why the big difference between the surface-based and mesh approaches? Tebis’ Benson likes to characterize this difference with a soccer ball analogy. Mesh data, he explains, is like the pattern on the surface of a soccer ball, which is composed of a series of pentagons. This comparatively large number of pentagons, or smaller surfaces, create a surface that is “heavy,” which can create problems when generating toolpaths. The Tebis surface-based approach, on the other hand, generates surfaces that are “light,” making them “easier to work with, resulting in higher quality and more accurate surfaces.” The result: higher quality, more accurate surfaces with Tebis.

  • Single solution streamlines process

    Along with simulation, Integrity has over 80 Tebis seats and employs a broad array of Tebis modules, including mold & die, collision check, viewer NC, surface morphing, BREP, reverse engineering, electrode prep, and a number of different 5-axis milling modules to name just a few. But apart from the capabilities and success of individual modules and functionalities, Ryan Hotchkiss feels the biggest benefit of the Integrity-Tebis collaboration may be that gained from having a single software system that delivers a complete process, taking the design from the CAD systems right through to finished product.

    “There are numerous efficiency gains from the whole shop, essentially, being run from one software system,” says Hotchkiss. “It means having one file. Multiple file setups in different softwares takes time and invites errors. This way, there is less human interaction, and people are not wasting time referring to multiple files. The situation is magnified in the case of engineering changes.” Also, he adds, it is easier to train new employees—especially important given the speed of Integrity’s growth and the challenges in finding highly skilled workers.

    Integrity Tool & Mold boasts over 257,000 sq.ft. and over 100 spindles in three locations; Oldcastle, Ontario, Pulaski, TN and Queretaro Mexico.

    But as successful as its software is proving to be, the folks at Tebis know you can’t just drop off a software system and hope that it works. Long term success comes from working together to solve problems and craft new solutions. Here, too, Tebis gets high marks.

    “The quality of their service is second to none,” reports Hotchkiss. “Once a month we have a continuous improvement meeting between our team and the Integrity team,” says Kowalczyk. “This is to work out issues and discuss next steps. We know that Integrity is going to continue to grow and to investigate new ways of cutting and new processing because they’re cutting edge, and we plan to be right there with them.”

Overview

Quote

“The automation in Tebis, with features like their template style programming, has been very valuable for us.”

Features

Benefits:

  • Robust simulation capabilities
  • Single solution streamlines process
  • Automation & standardization speed programming; increase throughput

Sector:

Mold manufacturing

Company:

Integrity Tool and Mold

Location:

Oldcastle, ON, Canada

Interviewee:

Ryan Hotchkiss

Position:

Director of Manufacturing

Published:

5/8/2018

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Integrity Tool and Mold Takes Aim at the Top, with Help from Tebis

This once small shop has grown into a $150 million company and world leadership in the moldmaking industry in less than a generation.

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