At Olympic Steel, ProNest laser nesting software has been pure gold
The company and products
Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, and operating 15 facilities across the U.S., Olympic Steel is a value-added provider of flat rolled steel. A big part of the company’s business is cut-to-shape processing, which is done on more than 30 laser, gas, and plasma cutting machines from a number of different manufacturers.
While laser cut-to-shape processing has made a significant contribution to Olympic’s growth and profitability in recent years, the relatively high capital equipment cost of CO2 laser technology requires similarly high levels of productivity in order to achieve the necessary return on investment. And CAM programming plays a leading role in delivering that ROI. As laser capabilities were added, Olympic soon found itself using numerous OEM and third-party CAM software programs.
As a result, CAM programmers had to be trained to operate multiple laser nesting software products and the company faced mounting software update and maintenance costs each year. A strategic decision was made to seek out and implement a more global corporate approach to CAM programming that would help Olympic Steel achieve its productivity goals.
After an exhaustive evaluation period, the company decided on ProNest® for the majority of their CNC sheet and plate cutting operations nationwide. Cory DeWitte, CNC Planning Specialist, says, “There are so many ProNest features I really find fantastic and that we use; particularly for our lasers.” He adds, “ProNest’s Collision Avoidance option has been huge for us, especially for use on some of the older lasers where raising and lowering heads is slower. We can now traverse with the cutting head down versus a full retract between every pierce and that has translated to a savings of just over an hour of production time per day, per laser, which is awesome! We now see significantly reduced wear and tear on the laser machines; which reduces our costs.”
Speed enhancements and increased material utilization have been significant, a welcome contribution to the bottom line. DeWitte continues, “ProNest now allows me to program eight machines per day, so it has more than doubled our programming productivity. Also, we virtually always achieve a minimum of seventy percent nest utilization, even with the most challenging part geometries. He adds, “ProNest’s Common Line Cutting option has decreased our production time anywhere from twelve to as much as forty percent.”