Software helped a Hamilton manufacturer become more efficient.

Something big has come down the tube.

Hamilton steel tube specialists Industrial Tube Manufacturing recently switched to the latest version of its production management tool, designed and built by software specialist Company-X in Hamilton.

Tubemanager has become an integral part of Industrial Tube Manufacturing’s process, being the main tool that informs the turning of raw steel into standard lengths of precision-cut tube for bulk orders. Tube can be used for a variety of applications such as general engineering, furniture manufacture, automotive exhausts, header boards and roll cages, shop fitting and racking, sporting and outdoor equipment, fencing, glasshouses and crop protection structures.

Industrial Tube Manufacturing was established in 1985 by Peter Green whose son Julian, in 2006, asked Company-X director Jeremy Hughes for the first iteration of Tubemanager. The project is Company-X’s longest-running one.

The Tubemanager software interfaces with the Industrial Tube Manufacturing accounting system and uses data to calculate and optimise factory production. It has helped enhance some of the company’s lean manufacturing process pioneered by Toyota Production System in the 1990s to eliminate waste. Industrial Tube started its lean journey in 2010. They call their lean program ROC-IT (Rolling Out Change at Industrial Tube) and keep track of the progress and improvements on charts in the staff room.

Since then Company-X has partnered with Industrial Tube Manufacturing and updated the software through an iterative process which has delivered continuous improvements.

The software does away with the need for a customer order on paper travelling through the factory as the job progresses.

“It’s something new, something that we have to adapt to for us to carry on,” said machinery operator Don Hansen.

Industrial Tube Manufacturing assistant general manager Ian Foster was pleased with the way Company-X managed new releases and software updates and provided help desk support.

“When Company-X pushes the deploy button for a new version we get some full-time help with the changes,” Foster said.

“Tubemanager has been really valuable to us as part of the lean manufacturing process, it will help remove the need for physical job cards and introduce a paperless manufacturing system,” Foster said.

Tubemanager produces what Foster called a daily cut list, providing a single source of truth around orders and their progress.

The job list includes the specific details of each order, which might include laser cutting, precision straight cutting, precision angle cutting in round, square and rectangle, wire brush de-burring, swaging, pressing and punching, CN drilling, tapping, thermal drilling and milling.