Trailer and camper manufacturer nüCamp RV uses ALPHACAM nesting to boost efficiency and eliminate errorThe thrill of camping and art of woodworking converge at nüCamp RV, where the manufacturing of trailers and campers reflects both traditional craftsmanship and the adventure of hitting the open road.
Based in Sugarcreek, Ohio, nüCamp RV produces teardrop trailers and campers, and truck campers noted for traditional Amish craftsmanship and creative design. While the company outsources its metal components, it produces all cabinetry and millwork to offer options for both rugged camping and luxurious “glamping” adventures.
“Our quality and our ability to work together as a team are what we offer that sets us apart from our competition,” said Cabinetry Foreman Robert Yoder. nüCamp employs a staff of 180 team members, including several computer-aided-design (CAD) engineers and a research and development department that continuously creates new designs.
"We want to be able to spend time on other tasks, so being able to have the machinery and the software taking care of a big share of the workload means that we can do that and still be productive."
Robert Yoder, Cabinetry Foreman
In 2016, the company implemented the ALPHACAM computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) solution to increase efficiency and improve consistency by reducing the amount of work done by hand. nüCamp had never before used CNC software, so the introduction of ALPHACAM was a significant change for the company.
“The reason that we went to CNC is that our trailers have lots of wooden parts with notches, holes and cutouts. We thought, ‘Instead of doing that by hand, why not get a CNC machine, where every part is perfect and team members can spend time doing other tasks?’” Yoder said. “Having CNC takes the guesswork out of things. We used to have a lot of jigs and now the machine does everything — and we can do more in a single operation.”
nüCamp purchased two nested-based routers and an SCM p200 state-of-the art edgebander from machining-solutions manufacturer SCM North America. Integration of the new machinery resulted in a reduction in the manual handling of heavy materials, along with an increase in time that could be devoted to other tasks.
“With our machines, we can throw a bunk of plywood down versus having to handle everything by hand, which saves time and our backs,” Yoder said. “There’s also almost no shavings on the line, so the addition of the machinery has meant a much cleaner work area and less for us to clean up.”
To begin jobs in in ALPHACAM, the programming team receives designs generated by nüCamp’s engineers and imports them into ALPHACAM. From there, programmers can manually or automatically identify part features, such as holes, rabbets and dados, and generate nests to cut as many parts as possible during a single operation. Once single parts are programmed or nests created, the software will generate G-code to be sent to the company’s machinery.
The nested-based routers, which are programmed by ALPHACAM to automatically generate efficient nests with maximum material yield, save countless hours that would otherwize be devoted to cutting everything from panels to small, complex profiles by hand. As users are able to edit automatically-generated nests in ALPHACAM, they retain the flexibility to make changes and program jobs exactly as they wish.
“The ability to nest our parts has given us a reduction in human error, which means less scrap. We nest everything that we can and use the automatic nesting, which nests exactly the way that we want it to 99 percent of the time,” Yoder said.
ALPHACAM enables users to select parts to be nested from the screen or from a kit of parts, and allows their orientation to be fixed — which is helpful if grain direction needs to be maintained — or rotated at an angle. Parts to be cut at multiple depths, including those that require an onion skin, can also be nested in ALPHACAM.
The ability to nest a variety of different parts with an array of requirements eliminates the need to keep track of countless variables as parts make their way from the virtual drawing board to production and assembly.
“We like to trust the machine and the software to do what they do, so we are pretty much strictly automatic when it comes to programming. The machinery is more consistent than a human being could ever be, so we know that we will be getting perfect parts every time,” Yoder said.
“We want to be able to spend time on other tasks, so being able to have the machinery and the software taking care of a big share of the workload means that we can do that and still be productive.”
As the company grows to use more of the tools within ALPHACAM, Yoder would like to eventually take advantage of the system’s Automation Manager, which can be used to batch-process multiple 2D or 3D CAD files.
“Having all of the parts on a spreadsheet and importing it into ALPHACAM, which will automatically nest the parts, would save even more time,” Yoder said.
About the Company
Name: nüCamp RV
Business: Trailer and camper manufacturer
- Ability to accomplish several tasks in a single operation
- Nesting for greater material yield and efficiency
- Reductions in human error and scrap