Nesting Software | 4 Best Practices When Kit Nesting

Optimation Assembly Manager Nesting Software

Optimation Assembly Manager Nesting Software

Some manufacturers – maybe you – build products out of component parts.  Those completed products are kits or assemblies or units, depending on the term you use.  Some parts are sheet or plate metal; some are not.  Some parts involve extensive post-fabrication work (bending, forming, painting); some not.  But the one thing all kit parts have in common is that they belong together.  Kits are designed as a unit and need to be programmed together, nested together, cut or punched together, assembled together, and ultimately delivered together, which creates a rather difficult production challenge.

How do you keep the assembly parts together in a cohesive unit, while reducing the programming time, managing the material yield, and not slowing down machine productivity?  There are sheet metal software best practices to help.  Often times one or two of these goals are sacrificed to achieve another goal in what is seen as a zero-sum game.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  There are tools and practices that can help achieve all of these goals in concert and without sacrificing one good for another.  Let’s look at some of the day-to-day challenges kits present and some solutions to the problems.Four Best Nesting Practices to Kit Building Challenges

Challenge – Time Consuming – Kits take an inordinate amount of time to order (taking the bill of materials and communicating it to production).  Each part geometry needs to be ordered separately – maybe in multiples, but separate from other geometries.  There may be dozens or even hundreds of parts to each kit.  That’s a lot of ordering! And placing the order to have them manufactured, pulled from inventory, ordered from a supplier is a very complicated, time-consuming task.

Best Practice Order your kits as whole units.  Imagine your orders as files with subdirectories reflecting each piece part with associated quantities needed for the completion of one unit.  Your ordering utility within your CNC sheet metal software should be able to explode those aggregate subdirectories into individual piece part orders and multiply them against the total quantity needed.  Doing this can automatically produces parts for nests accurately reflecting your production due dates and timelines.

Challenge – Error Prone – With the amount of detail involved in ordering the individual piece-parts for the nest, the opportunity for human error is enormous.  It is easy enough to order the wrong part, the wrong quantity of parts – too many or too few, ordering them with the wrong due date to sync up with downstream processes, or missing a piece-part order altogether.  Any one of these simple mistakes can amount to giant headaches on the shop floor.  An ordering mistake can mean confusion on the floor, delays downstream, mistakes downstream, and worst of all an unsatisfied customer due to inaccuracies or delays.

Best Practice Minimize the human interaction in the process.  Eliminate the piece-part order keying for each kit for production.  Assuming the orders are already in electronic form – an Excel worksheet would be sufficient – automatic nesting software can pick up the order number, part number, quantity, designated material, and any other assigned information without human interaction or human error and bring it into the nesting software quickly and painlessly.

Challenge – Tedious CNC Programming Work – The plain truth about kits is that they are a programming pain.  No programmer looks forward to working with kits because it is slow, detailed work that in reality takes a lot of uninterrupted concentration, but not a lot of intelligence to perform.  The degree of repetition is high simply because the same grouping of parts needs to be ordered over and over and over again.  It’s not fun work.

Best Practice Step away from the commitment to routine, dull work and lean toward higher value activities.  Where programmers and engineers really make a difference is in their ability to assess processes and look for more production-improving tools and troubleshooting – handling the exceptions to the process.  Is there something more productive, engaging, and frankly, interesting you could be doing?  Lean into to that and turn over the mundane to an automation tool – automatic sheet metal software.

Challenge –  Disaggregated Kits – The whole idea behind producing a kit is to build a kit, not a mish-mash of incomplete sets of parts.  And that’s only possible of all the parts for the kit can be moved through the production process together.  The right parts hit the laser, the punch, the paint room, and the welding cell at the right time and in the right order. With all of the parts coming together as if by magic to be assembled.  Timing each process and making it as error-free as possible are the secrets to keeping a kit together.  When the component piece-parts of the kit are disaggregated, the whole process can quickly come off the rails. And the shop floor turns in to chaos. Then the time involved in assembling the kit and the opportunity for even more errors go up exponentially.

Best Practice Just-in-Time (JIT) Kit Nesting. JIT Kit Nesting is a process by which an entire kit is ordered for nesting, one kit at a time or “Just in Time.”  All of the piece-parts of an assembly or kit are ordered at one time, simultaneously, and are processed in the nesting algorithm as one, cohesive unit.  The automatic sheet metal software keeps parts together in the nesting process while material efficiency is optimized.  As the parts and part quantities dwindle for the first kit, the piece-parts for the second kit are integrated in the sheet metal layouts.  Again, keeping the kits separate, yet optimizing the material efficiency and machine up time.


There is no getting around the tasks inherent in ordering and nesting kits.  The piece-parts need to be ordered, errors need to be eliminated, kits need to be held together, material must be optimized, and then there is the ever-present downward pressure on programming time.  The good news is that there are best practices and automatic nesting software that can make a better – even positive – experience out of the nesting of kits.

How are you managing kits?  Have you created workarounds to make it more tenable? What’s your story?  Let us know.

For more information about Optimation and the Assembly Manager, contact us online.

Notice: This work is licensed under a BY-NC-SA. Permalink: Nesting Software | 4 Best Practices When Kit Nesting

4 comments on “Nesting Software | 4 Best Practices When Kit Nesting

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