WHY CNC IS THE WAY TO GO FOR NEARLY EVERY MACHINE SHOP
Simplified interface refers to the ease with which modern advanced CNC technology has reduced the commands needed to effect a machine operation. Compared to just a few years ago, up to fifteen lines of code were needed to program a function that now requires just three lines in many cases. Words can also be used for many functions, rather than those complex sequences of code commands that were previously required. And quite often, a program can be preset by using tagged function blocks to execute fairly complex operations that are represented by a single onscreen icon.
The CNC saves offsets and tool information for quick recall. Onboard tool management programs are also available to assist the shop in proper tool selection for specific functions, tool change sequencing for similar part paths, routine machine maintenance alerts and program modification to allow faster implementation of design changes into the control.
All of this is particularly helpful for job shops working with the now-popular configurable component customers, where slight modifications are being made to standard programs and delivery schedules are critical. In one folder, an operator can maintain all of the tool table settings for just such cases where over 90 percent of the settings are identical for repeat cycles.
Since the math on a CNC is built into the numerical control kernel (NCK), there is less step-by-step sequencing required to build programs. And, while many shops still maintain separate files and codes for their sub-programs, many CNC models now have this functionality onboard. This essentially means that, rather than using numbers from 0001-9999 for example, the program and subs can be assigned names that are more easily recognized for reference because the CNC software does the ordering of the files. If you want more details on this topic, please email me.
A quick note: One tip on program transfers that I emphasize frequently – because I’ve seen its disastrous consequences on the floor – is to never run programs off the memory sticks. While it’s easy and tempting to do this, this shortcut will compromise your cycle and could cause serious errors. Plus, on a practical note, those sticks can get bumped or dislodged from the machine, thereby ruining expensive workpieces and wasting our most precious commodity: time.
One other note: Using compact flash devices vs. PCMCIA cards is more effective for memory adds because the flash devices have auto-recognition and don’t require a reboot.
There are certainly many more reasons why today’s CNC is not only not your father’s NC tape drive; it’s also not even the CNC of ten years ago. CNC has come a long way, baby, because you can now have everything that has been described here at a very affordable price on new five-axis machines or even old knee mills. Think about it. And stay tuned, because there is much more on the way.
See you at IMTS! Please visit me and bring your questions!
Pages: 1 2
About the Author: 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, www.siemenscnc.com. 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 email@example.com.