No Time To Sit - How Software Can Improve the Flow of Bent Fabricated Parts Through Your Shop

The Problem 
So you have been thinking about how you can make improvements to your existing tube fabrication processes. You have been talking to the folks on the shop floor, a few people in the office, and anyone who might be able shed light on your needs. You have some ideas, yet you are searching for the big one...the one that will really affect the bottom line. As you walk out onto the shop floor, you are confronted with two large bins of fabricated components all waiting to spend time with the welder. 

After all you are in the business of making patio furniture and a chair alone requires at least three separate fabricated components. The holdup is you are waiting on a 3rd component so the welder can get started welding up the 1st chair frame! 

Then it hits you. Why wait? And you are right. You can solve several problems with one swooping process change. It involves funneling all the necessary parts to the welder so that the welder can assemble one chair at a time...all day long. 

For this to happen, the welder must be presented discrete kits…kits that allow the process to flow one chair at a time thru the welding cell continuously. No more piles of components sitting around waiting. No more waiting on the 3rd component to be formed before the welder gets moving.

To keep the discussion simple, let’s assume that all three of the parts required to build a chair are all made from 1” aluminum tubing. With this in mind, the process starts to shine at the cnc bender.. For the process to flow, the bender needs to bend the three parts in kit fashion. The parts within the kit may need some holes punched after bending. A good time to have the holes punched may be when the cnc bender is making a part (all in the same cell). 

Once the three parts are bent (one after the other), the kit is passed to the welder. The welder welds up the kit and passes the finished weldment to the next process in line. The goal here is to keep the chairs moving thru the paint line and heading towards the load dock. 

The Good News 
The benefits of this approach are obvious. To start with there are no piles of bent components just sitting around…waiting. This frees up floor space. Moreover, the number of completed chairs processed thru this cell per day will go up which adds up to lower cost of goods sold. 

In order to pull this off on a cnc bender efficiently, the bender’s software must allow for this type of processing. It is all in the software. CNC tube bending machines that support this lean approach allow a user to build groups (kits) of parts and process the individual parts in back to back order. This technique by definition doesn’t allow piles of components to build up and wait. 


The software most often allows a user to add or delete a part form within a group. Other common features of multi-part programming involved being able to arrange the order of the parts formed and review the count of the overall groups made.

This approach to forming a weldment lends itself well to higher volume products. However, setting up the shop floor to process 20 chairs a month would not work well with this process. As with all potential process changes, you need to first stop, sit, and ponder the possibilities. 


About the Author

George Winton, P.E. designs and builds CNC tube fabrication equipment for Winton Machine in Suwanee, GA. He can be reached at gwinton@wintonmachine.com or 888.321.1499

About the Machines We Build 

All of our semi-rigid coax and tube fabrication machines at Winton are designed, manufactured, and tested in-house.  We have a large line of standard products as well as the ability to engineer the best solution for our customer’s needs.  Our experienced sales staff makes sure that our customers can justify their capital equipment investment by offering a solution that is exactly what they need in order to manufacture their parts.  Please contact us today to discuss your project.