Square-IT and Plan-Merge are software agents which assist in the process of creating manufacturing plans for small batch prismatic machined parts. Squaring is the process of generating a sequence of operations that prepares the stock so all surfaces are parallel or perpendicular to each other. Most automated process planning programs, and many machinists, perform squaring as a separate process completed prior to manufacturing the part. Although this practice simplifies planning, many opportunities for efficiency are lost when squaring and shaping the part into its final form are achieved in two completely separate plans. A far more efficient plan (i.e. fewer setups) can be achieved when squaring and feature cutting are treated as two types of operations included in a single, more globally efficient plan. Square-IT and Plan-Merge together perform this process of merging these two types of operations. The efficiency savings are dramatic. Setups can be reduced by 10 to 40 percent. Reducing set-ups also increases accuracy of the part by reducing opportunities for error. In future work we hope to adapt Square-IT and Plan-Merge so that they can be used as training tools that teach proper squaring and planning efficiency principles.

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