Randy Pearson of Siemens Energy & Automation explains how, through short movie sequences and onscreen prompts in plain language, CNC operators can realize a what-you-see-is-what-you-get level of operational ease.

Whether you?re making a single part, small batch or production run, new CNC technology can help in many ways. This is often said, but it has never been truer than today, especially for the job shop. Turning and milling operations, once fairly basic and often very time-consuming on the old reliable machines, have advanced quite rapidly in the last decade during an integration of more complex tooling, multiple spindles, counterspindles and significantly higher levels of programming.

Furthermore, as the age of specialization came over the industry, training challenges and related expenses grew exponentially for the shop owner. Today, that situation has completely reversed itself, as the training of operators has been made much easier by the simple program language on the more sophisticated CNC platforms that are available.

The visualization of the machine cycle has been a longtime challenge. From the days when the machinist was armed only with his drawing, taped to the arbor with his go/no-go gage and a good deal of imagination, today?s video generation is more in tune with a visualization strategy of training and machine operation.

The result is significantly improved productivity, made possible largely by the CNC and its ability to blend the simple language commands with animated elements and onscreen prompts that help the operator/programmer both visualize and quickly amend the cutting path.

Both milling and turning operations can now be handled on an advanced CNC screen, such that every operator can be trained in both disciplines much more easily than in the past. This is an important development because every second counts in today?s highly competitive environment, especially when machining larger batch sizes.

For example, what do the parameters entered into a CNC actually do? They control the machine and cutter movements, of course, so if these commands could be instantly translated into short movie sequences, the long-standing questions about the difference between chip breaking and stock removal on a deep-hole drilling operation could be answered immediately. Imagine that.

This technology is actually available today. Likewise, the exact tracing sequence for corner measurement can be displayed and calculated for both time and practicality, on the spot. That?s not all. Onscreen, simple cursor text is now built into the CNC with an onboard help library of assists. Sound familiar? This development is modeled after the help menu on your home PC.

The days of lengthy plowing through manuals for an answer are fading fast. Need to know what helical immersion in an upmilled pocket is? The answer can be displayed at the touch of a few buttons and shown to you in a short movie. And all these features can be accessed from direct keys on the operator control panel, whether you?re in a milling or turning mode.

This is not cartoon time. This kind of animation will help you solve machining problems, cut your production time and, best of all, save money that can end up on your shop?s bottom line.

That?s definitely the ticket to success.

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Randy Pearson is the sales support manager for U.S. dealers and OEMs of Siemens Energy & Automation, Motion Control Business, 390 Kent Avenue, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007, As a longtime veteran of the machine tool industry, his special interest is the training aspect on CNC machine tools, through various seminars and classes the company conducts at votech schools and on-site at shops, as well as at Siemens training facilities around the country. If you have questions or comments on this or other CNC topics, call Randy at 847-640-1595 or email him at

Randy Pearson

Randy Pearson is the sales support manager for U.S. dealers and OEMs of Siemens Industry, Inc., Drives Technologies, Motion Control — Machine Tool Business, 390 Kent Avenue, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007, A veteran of the machine tool industry, his interest is the training aspect on CNC machine tools, which he conducts through seminars and classes at votech schools and shops, and at Siemens training facilities. For questions or comments on this column, contact Randy at 847-640-1595 or



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