1000 CNC machine factories

04 Sep 2019

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

CloudNC, which aims to use technology to disrupt the subcontracting market, has chosen DMG MORI as a partner for the thousands of machine tools it anticipates installing in its factories.

Theo Saville CEO of CloudNC says: “Factories with tens of thousands of machines already exist in China. We aim to be able to have this type of capacity but with fully automated systems complementing our breakthrough CNC programming capability. Our approach will use automation to remove dirty, dangerous and repetitive tasks, meaning our highly skilled workforce are focused where humans are still best – problem solving, lateral thinking and adaptive reasoning.

Mr Saville and CTO Chris Emery founded the company in 2015 and, as he explains: “The concept of CloudNC came about while I was working in metal additive manufacture research at WMG, where I became used to the simplicity of operating 3D printers, and increasingly frustrated with the total lack of automation in CNC machining. I met my co-founder and now CTO Chris Emery shortly afterwards, who had assumed - like most - that CNC machines were already automatic. Four years and £11.5M in venture capital funding later, we have a solution to the problem.”

The overall objective of the company is to transform subcontract manufacturing activities, drastically cutting the cost through the use of AI, advanced manufacturing processes and industry-leading manufacturing culture. The company, located in London, has opened a manufacturing plant in Chelmsford which is already delivering on that promise. Theo Saville adds, “We’re leveraging this software to produce components to aerospace grade quality at breakthrough prices. Reduced cycle times and a total lack of CAM programming costs are just part of the picture. We’re building advanced software to automate and streamline all aspects of the precision manufacturing process, from RFQ right through to dispatch.”

The software developed by CloudNC requires only information on the part geometry, tolerances, machine parameters and available tools. It then goes through an extremely rapid iterative process, using the vast computational powers available in the cloud to evaluate millions of possible machining methods before automatically selecting from the fastest and most efficient achievable with that specific equipment and tooling.

The company’s first plant “Factory 1” has been designed to take full advantage of the latest Industry 4.0 technologies and approaches and is on a rapid technology adoption curve to employ the most efficient and highly automated production techniques. From ordering and customer relationship management to resource planning, inspection, delivery and after sales service, customers can expect transparent, highly-automated efficiency as standard.

Central to its vision of offering faster and more cost-effective subcontract manufacturing services around the world, CloudNC aims to employ the very best human and machine potential available. This includes the selection of machine tool partners capable of delivering the 1000s of machines it anticipates installing. Theo Saville says, “We identified DMG MORI as a company capable of manufacturing and delivering the volume of machines we will require. It has an international presence and support and service network which will match our expansion plans regardless of where we go.”

The company has chosen the DMU 50, 60 EVO and DMU 95 Monoblock platforms. Theo Saville says, “We are planning to have at least three factories within two years and many more following that as we undertake international expansion plans. Factory 1 is a testing ground for the machines, their configuration and our software and methods. We will then replicate the best solutions at our future manufacturing plants.”

Within five years, CloudNC is anticipating exponential growth producing job shop and serial production parts at aero-grade quality assurance with short delivery times and at prices that cannot be matched anywhere else.