Digitisation never stops, especially within Voortman Steel Machinery. The moment has now arrived to introduce VACAM 4.0. Every machine within Voortman Steel Machinery runs on VACAM. But what is it exactly? What does it do? And why is a new version needed? Robert Koster, Software Architect at VSM, explains.
VACAM stands for Voortman Automation CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing). To describe it briefly, VACAM is a self-developed software package of VSM that is needed to control the Voortman machines that are ultimately installed at the customer’s premises. It takes care of work planning, ensures that planned work is performed automatically and allows manual operation and diagnosis. In the case of a system (several machines that are linked and work together) VACAM allows these different machines to communicate.
Robert Koster joined Voortman as a Software Developer 13 years ago. He is now a Software Architect. ‘I help my colleagues with any software- or machine-related problems and develop new software myself. In my role I look at the functionality of the machine, provide guidance and maintain an overview of the capabilities of the machine when the right software is installed.’
‘We are now in a transitional phase. At the beginning of 2019 VACAM 4.0 will be released for the beam lines (drilling, sawing, shot blasting and cutting machines). VACAM 4.0 offers many advantages, including for the user.’ On the modern user interface the menu and navigation elements have been completely updated and are now much clearer. For example, functions are now grouped by task and only the options required are displayed. Eventually it will be possible to operate almost everything with a touchscreen. ‘In the future only the start and emergency buttons will still be physical buttons.’ Not only is the appearance now a good deal more modern, but the ultimate aim is also to improve control and make the machine even easier to adjust. ‘This is clear from the fact that VACAM 2.0 was mainly about offering functionality, while with VACAM 4.0 we are adapting the machine as much as possible to the end user.’
‘At Voortman Steel Machinery we often supply a complete system, which naturally means that communication between the various elements is extremely important.’ A good example? ‘We recently linked together 9 machines for a client. You are there in an enormous room and eventually all these machines work together and a product goes from beginning to end, plus processing, without human intervention. That’s incredible!’
The first machine to be completely developed in VACAM 4.0 is the V631, the successor to the V630. The V631 is a drilling machine with 3 drilling heads and features heavier drilling heads than its predecessor, amongst other things. Robert: ‘Voortman Steel Machinery works with a highend target group that is placing ever greater demands on the machines. Customers want to drill bigger and bigger holes with ever greater speed, for example, but also make their milling better and more precise. With the V631 that’s possible.’ Not only has the machine itself been improved, but the internal software has also been completely redesigned. ‘The V631 can apply a number of markings simultaneously, for example, and the process steps have been made clearer’, Robert proudly explains. ‘It is possible to achieve even more accurate positioning, as the speed of travel is based on the weight of the material.’
Adjustment has also been improved significantly for the customer: whereas with the V630 we still had to enter the positions ourselves, with the V631 you only need to make corrections to the standard positions.