Open Architecture CNC Controls Optimize Machine Tool Performance
Capital investments on CNC machine tools often come with some heavy baggage. While short-term gains are measurable and impactful, the use of a proprietary CNC control system may close the door for future system improvements.
The challenges of today's CNC machining industry create a need for smarter, more flexible solutions. Open architecture CNC control systems provide a platform for customization and ongoing upgrades that provide users with the kind of controls they need to maximize lean performance. This keeps the door open for continuous process improvement, greatly increasing the lifetime return on investment.
Any CNC machine tool can cut metal, but one of the keys to improving the process is capturing and analyzing the data associated with the processing and cutting. The CNC control plays a critical role in being able to capture that data. A Windows®-based, open architecture system provides connectivity, traceability and adaptability. This enables end users to continuously improve processes, implement management control, reduce costs and improve quality.
All CNC controls allow you to operate the machine - turning, cutting, drilling or milling - whatever the machine capabilities might be. However, machine functionality provides only one part of the production picture. To truly improve CNC machine tool performance, it is essential to have the ability to control and upgrade the various inputs in order to impact the long-term manufacturing or cutting capabilities of the machine.
TRUE OPTIMIZATION CAN ONLY BE ACHIEVED WHEN THE END USER HAS CONTROL OF THEIR CONTROLS
THINC® (THe Intelligent Numerical Control) is the industry's first open architecture CNC control that grows with emerging technology even after a machine is on the factory floor. Its true PC compatible motherboard runs all aspects of the CNC machine, including real-time motion as well as all Windows applications. Because of its single processor design, it can easily be swapped to remain technologically current over time. Memory can be upgraded independently by the end user, eliminating expensive memory options and providing the ability to use any preferred off-the-shelf technology. The standard PC-compatible Ethernet and multiple USB ports at the motherboard allow easy integration between the factory floor and corporate communications channels, allowing for a paperless environment and data acquisition, plus easy integration of computer and industrial peripherals.
HOW IS THINC DIFFERENT FROM OTHER CONTROLS?
Conventional CNC machine capability is frozen in time and obsolete the day the customer takes delivery. The THINC open architecture platform grows with technology, allowing it to adapt to changing customer requirements. Anything that runs on a Windows® system can run on a THINC platform.
Traditional CNC machine design is a static reflection of the customer's needs, as perceived by the corporate development organization. This can limit growth over time. Now, an open and fluid platform allows the end user to take advantage of new capabilities as they become available from various sources, without a costly CNC control overhaul. Expansion of capabilities over time can be made using off-the-shelf, or even custom, solutions.
The result is a dynamic CNC control platform that provides optimization efficiencies resulting in a distinct competitive advantage.
TRUE MANUFACTURING SOLUTIONS REQUIRE CONNECTIVITY
By connecting various programs, equipment and information, layers of intelligence can be added, allowing for collection and analysis of data. This provides the tools needed to make informed decisions about process improvements.
Open architecture CNC controls such as THINC provide a link between the machine, the human and the information components of manufacturing. THINC enhances the ability of the machine to cut parts by interfacing, via Ethernet cable or USB connection, with peripheral equipment, accessories and information sources.
The ease of connectivity and the ability to read and process information reduces the need for redundant inputs, minimizes human intervention and provides security controls.
DEMANDS FOR TRACEABILITY CREATE A NEED FOR SMARTER CNC CONTROLS
Traceability of product and processes is important in many industries for a variety of reasons: compliance with regulatory directives, product recall risk aversion, quality intelligence, or building customer trust. With the THINC CNC control, it is possible to trace things such as the origin of raw materials, what tool was used, which operator was running the machine, the time the parts were made, on which machine the parts were made, etc.
ADAPTABILITY ALLOWS FOR ROBUST MONITORING AND MEASUREMENT IN A VARIETY OF MANUFACTURING ENVIRONMENTS
Storing and processing data on the control (using API) provides the capability to adapt to various manufacturing environments, formats, and philosophies. Each part program may require a different level or routine of measurement, and the THINC CNC control can flexibly adapt to these requirements. Even if you have a flexible manufacturing system (FMS) with multiple pallets and multiple part programs, each can be custom handled. From statistical process control (SPC) to 100% inspection, the control will adapt.
Touch-sensitive probing is used to gauge, measure and verify key features on a part. If a part is found to be out of spec, a variety of actions can occur:
- A flag or alarm can be triggered
- In pre-process situations, geometry can be identified and adjustments made to avoid damage to the tool, workholding or machine
- Part rejection
- Reworking of the part
- Other human intervention to determine cause and resolution
Adaptive Control Software monitors software and sensors within the CNC machine to make automated, real-time decisions regarding feed rate and depth of cut. Applying predetermined parameters, the CNC control makes adjustments such as decreasing the depth of cut when an increase in horsepower is detected, or increasing the feed rate with a decrease in horsepower.
Monitoring and measurement through the CNC control provides end users with robust, adaptable tools that reduce waste and downtime.
THE OPEN ARCHITECTURE APPROACH: AN OPEN DOOR TO PROFITABILITY
Given the challenges and demands faced in today's CNC machining industry, incremental process modifications are inadequate to produce the scale of efficiencies needed to remain viable. A sea change that shatters the traditional silo model of doing business is not only needed, it is inevitable.
Open architecture is based on a philosophy of removing the barriers, limitations and planned obsolescence imposed by proprietary CNC control systems. It places focus on continuous improvement by allowing ongoing incorporation of best-in-class upgrades. This involves opening the door to connectivity, which has traditionally been viewed as risky. The truth is, it allows all parties to focus resources on expanding performance continuously.
THINC's open, integrated CNC control system maximizes machining efficiency via a real time adaptive control.
With the ability to monitor and make adjustments based on data collected and processed by the CNC control, quality can be maintained and tracked to support the most demanding requirements. By reducing opportunities for human error and using the CNC machine control to aid in the decision making process, greater accuracy, repeatability, and quality can be achieved.
By increasing productivity and improving quality, overall cost per part is reduced. Increase profitability By combining the THINC CNC control with the power, stability and accuracy of Okuma CNC machines, manufacturers have the ability to cut nearly any part imaginable − opening up profitable new markets.
True PC compatible motherboard
Upgradable single processor
Independent memory upgrade capability
Standard PC Ethernet
Multiple USB ports