Omega Plastics: “Getting you into production better than ever before”
Established in 1984, Omega Plastics is a world leader in tooling and injection molding solutions for prototype and low-volume production applications, with a global client base in a variety of industries including automotive, consumer packaging, medical, and security & safety products.
Speed and quality are the backbone of Omega’s success. The molding and tooling facilities are only separated by a door, creating an open channel of communication throughout the project. As a result, Omega is able to get multiple samples and approved production parts to a customer quickly. “Getting our customers into production quicker and better than ever before is our mission,” says Jeff Kaczperski, President.
An important part of Omega’s ability to deliver value to the customer is by providing design for manufacturing (DFM) expertise. “We have a great group of tooling experts that are eager to provide input. We are RJG certified and have scientific molding capabilities in house, so we understand it’s all about the part,” says Mike Pavlica, VP of Operations.
“When a customer sends us the product design, we don’t say that is good enough. We are going to look at it to see what is best for manufacturing from the customer viewpoint. If there are changes that can be made to reduce cost or to improve the product, we recommend those up front. We are able to do this because we have a technical sales and engineering team. Our customers really appreciate having that kind of a secondary arm of their engineering staff to support them,” comments Chris Buch, Sales Director.
Challenges: Driving towards automation for consistency and speed
To further improve the speed of delivery and the high level of product quality, Omega was looking to establish greater consistency and higher level of automation throughout the production process. In the past, a single mold maker was responsible for the process from start to end. This created less consistency because the quality of mold was dependent upon the ability of the individual. There were also timing constraints. Even if a highly skilled person could work 80 hours a week, he could not compete with equipment and processes that run 24x7.
Using separate software packages for design and manufacturing required frequent translation from one to the other, and the lack of associative properties slowed down the production process. When a customer issued an engineering change to the product, Omega would have to follow the tool design changes with manual updates of the cutter paths. In addition, some of the software that Omega had in place was difficult to use. These various factors resulted in wasted resources and time.
To address these challenges, Omega needed an end-to-end solution that would enable them to automate processes and increase efficiency across the organization. “Our goal is to get our customers into production more effectively, better than they have before. We wanted to improve our processes. This is why we started driving towards automation, and this is what linked us to Cimatron,” says Mike Pavlica, VP of Operations.
Solution: Cimatron provides end-to-end solutions from design through production
Today, Omega operates a mold manufacturing process, with experts that specialize in specific functions such as design, NC programming, EDM, etc. “Before we start working on any part we get the entire team together so everybody can give their input and we lay out a plan for how we are going to work this part from start to finish,” explains Pavlica. “Once we move forward, we are able to get multiple parts of the process worked on simultaneously. As soon as we are done with the preliminary design we can get it out to the floor to get some of the work started.”
The process is aided by extensive automation, ranging from robotics to a production control system that enables Omega to see where every part of the tool is at any time. “With our automated cells and the systems we have in place, we are able to cut and burn totally unattended with lights out operations,” says Pavlica.
Omega Plastics chose Cimatron to support the mold manufacturing process with an integrated solution that enables associativity from design through production. “Over the course of the past four years we have invested over 2 million dollars in tooling equipment and technology; we also continually train our people. Cimatron is the latest addition to this process,” notes Pavlica.
“We went through quite an extensive review where we talked to five or six major providers of CNC cutter path and design software,” recalls Pavlica. “Cimatron came in and were actually able to accomplish everything they said they could do. It was amazing to see how many vendors were able to show us great demos but could not get it done on our parts. Cimatron was able to demonstrate their associativity in real-life scenarios throughout the entire process, from design through cutter path and even into electrode design and manufacturing.”
Cimatron also stood out for their high level of support. “What we really appreciated was their genuine interest in helping us accomplish our business objectives versus just selling software. Even before Cimatron made the sale they had been in several times to support us and more importantly, since the sale, they have continued to support us and provide us with additional training,” remarks Buch.
Results: Automation and standardization provide speed and consistency
Cimatron’s integrated solutions have enabled Omega Plastics to automate key processes and create more consistency, complementing the knowledge and experience of Omega’s employees so that they have the automation they need, yet control over areas that require their expertise.
“With Cimatron we are able to generate better cutter paths. This means you will find less hand polishing which saves time and makes for a cleaner part. We have always had a high level of craftsmanship, but now we have less handwork and more automation. This generates a great level of consistency for the customer,” notes Pavlica.
When engineering changes come along, programmers are able to take an initial file from the customer, incorporate the changes into the design, and have these changes updated automatically on the cutter path. The new and streamlined process removes many of the steps that were previously necessary and saves a great deal of time.
In addition, many hours of high-end labor are eliminated because Cimatron provides an automated default output of the electrode burn line. For additional time savings, Cimatron is currently working with Omega on automating the EDM setup process so the code can be written directly to the EDM machines.
Omega is also moving towards utilizing the Cimatron templates to implement the next level of automation and standardization. Pavlica notes, “There are still some unique characteristics to each mold, and those will require specialization. But if we can get to the point where 60 or 70 percent can be standardized or automated, then we are focusing our time on the high value added for the customer.”
“Continuous improvement is part of our culture. We continually look at how we can improve our processes and become more consistent so that our customers know that we deliver the same high quality part regardless of who worked on it. Cimatron helps us do that,” says Kaczperski.