This article is part of an ongoing series from our Product Managers on how we design and develop new features in SigmaNEST. Today’s article features enhancements to the Continuous Nesting module that were released in SigmaNEST X1.5 and developed by our Nesting and Architecture team.
What is Continuous Nesting?
Continuous Nesting has been a SigmaNEST feature for quite some time. It’s used to group parts by work order numbers during nesting, which makes it easier to offload parts onto pallets or carts after cutting.
For example, let’s say I have parts in my workspace from three work orders named WO1, WO2, and WO3. When I enable continuous nesting, SigmaNEST will nest all parts in WO1, then all parts in WO2, then all parts in WO3. There are also other options I can use to determine whether or not parts from different work orders can be mixed.
Evaluating feature requests
We’ve received more than one feature request related to this functionality in the past, specifically in the case where customers want to group parts by what we call “Next Operation.” For example, all parts that need to be bent should be nested together, then all parts that need to be deburred, etc.
When we decided to add this feature to SigmaNEST, we started looking around at how we can go beyond the initial request while we’re already working in the code for that function. This is something we always ask ourselves: “What other functionality can we add while we’re here that will also add value for our customers?”
In this case, the customer was using a Part Data field to store their “Next Operation,” so at minimum, we would have to make all Part Data fields available for use with the command. We also looked at other data that might be useful to sort parts by. One customer had requested to sort by Due Date, so that was added to the list. We also thought of use cases for things like Customer, Part Name, and Drawing Number, so we added these to the list as well.
Choosing bite-sized pieces for development
One of the biggest challenges I face in development is knowing how far to take a feature. Too little, and it’s not enough to add value for our customers. Too much, and I risk delaying a release or having to push the feature back to a later release. But I felt that adding these fields would be a reasonable amount of work for my team to complete in time for X1.5, and as you can see, we met our goal.
What happens next?
One of the ways we’d like to add to this feature in the future is by expanding the Color by option (in the Attributes) so that you can color by the Part Data fields, Part Name, and Drawing number. Another idea is to add more functionality to the Continuous Nesting module itself, so that you can sort the groups. For example, if you have used your Part Data1 field to store Next Operation, we’d like to give you the option to pick which operation will be nested first.
Again, these are things that I chose not to target for this release because I wanted to ensure a timely release with the features we’d already developed. But it’s something we plan to work on in the future.
Tips and tricks
If you’re wondering how the customer I mentioned above was able to rename the PartData1 field to “Next Operation,” there’s an easy way to do this in the SigmaNEST Configuration.
- In the Configuration, open the Part Data tab
- For the Part Data item you want to edit (for example, Part Data1), click the corresponding ellipsis (…)
- Enter a caption (for example “Next Operation”)
- Choose the types of values that can be entered from the Type of Edit list (more info on each of these options is available in the SigmaNEST Help Center)
- Click OK to save your changes
- The next time you open the Part Parameters, the Part Data field will display the new caption
With this release, we also updated the batch command for continuous nesting to use the new/updated parameters. Here’s a sample batch command that I might use during nesting: