The modern manufacturer seeks ways to improve all aspects of production. Many have turned to Machine Data Collection (MDC) to provide deeper insights into what is occurring on the shop floor. Implementing MDC can be challenging, however, considering the age, make and type of CNC machines utilized. This guide will help you plan ahead for an MDC installation and start to consider some possible roadblocks before you get too far down this road.
CIMCO MDX-Max is very closely tied to DNC-Max. This is because of the integration between both the DNC system itself often providing key information for the data collection system but also between the MDC software and other related applications such as MDM and/or NC-Base. Let’s start the planning by identifying how you presently communicate with your machines. There are 6 methods that files are uploaded to your controls:
- By hand (USB or Floppy)
- Via RS-232 Upload or Remote Request
- Via RS-232 Drip Feed (Not stored on control/continuous feed)
- Ethernet – FTP
- Ethernet – NFS
- Ethernet – Directory Monitor
In many cases existing infrastructure can be used or altered slightly to accommodate the MDC solution. There are actually 3 corresponding ways for MDC to gather data for a particular CNC machine:
- Via dprnt statement/Macro (RS-232 Machines w/ Macro Support)
- Via network system (Fanuc FOCAS, Haas Mnet, MTConnect, Heidenhein LSV2)
- Via Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) signal acquisition
Using dprnt statements provides much more limited information from the CNC. Basically you can only gather cycle start, cycle stop, and part count. Network systems are extremely useful and provide much more detailed information right out of the box. This is our preferred method whenever possible, to gather MDC data from a CNC machine. PLC Signals are very reliable but can require great knowledge of the CNC machine in order to gather all of the required signals. They often tie into the pilot lamps to get the basics – cycle start/cycle stop. More advanced signals may or may not be supported depending on the machine.
If you currently use USB or Floppy disks to get files to your CNC machines, your road to implementing MDC will be longer. If you have Ethernet or RS-232 cabling already in place, things should move much more quickly. Ethernet is our preferred method, we can use it for any type of machine. We provide a document you can use to survey your equipment for the most important variables. To receive a copy use our Service Inquiry Tool or call +1-925-736-9114. Older machines may also lack some features that are necessary for advanced MDC installs. If you have very old CNC Machines, you are likely to experience some roadblocks to implementing advanced MDC functions, so also keep that in mind.
Planning for Operator Input
There are a number of situations where human input is required to appropriately track what is occurring on the machine. For example if a machine alarms, it is possible in some cases to get data about the alarm from FOCAS, M-Net or MTConnect but what about other cases? Or how about when a CNC Machine is idle, won’t we want to know why? For this reason the most common operator input is planned or unplanned downtime reasons such as:
- Tooling Issue
- Scrap Part
- No Operator Available
These are just examples of the reason codes, depending on your application these can be customized and inputted one of several ways:
- Barcode Reader
- Computer Terminal
- Via MDM Barcode Scheme
- Custom (Via API)
Each of these methods has it’s own unique advantages and it’s often a matter of preference or access to existing equipment. If for example you have Windows PC’s on your network located around your machining cells it might make sense to just utilize that existing equipment. Most of our customers use bar-code readers, which can do double duty such as remote-request files from the DNC system. With the new web client you can use almost any device. It is also worthy of mention that a number of things can be derived from the .nc file itself including the part number, client name or virtually anything. If you own CIMCO MDM, you can also use the client to initiate a Barcode Scheme that results in an MDC message.
It is sometimes perceived that an MDC system will be viewed like “big brother” watching the employees. The reality we have discovered is that in many cases MDC is instrumental in informing management of things that the operators may already know. Good examples of this are problems related to maintenance, materials or even tooling. Get input from your operators on what they feel the bottlenecks are while planning your MDC install. This tool will also allow for precise measurement of your most efficient operators. Generally speaking, a healthy culture of constant improvement creates a much more rewarding work environment.
What Information do You Need?
Manufacturers often look at industry key performance indicators such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). You might have other metrics that are equally important if not more important to your facility. You might also have specific problems or bottlenecks you are trying to solve. Our customers have identified everything from raw material quality problems to high tooling cost issues. The basic MDC install is designed to see if your machines are running and if they aren’t why they aren’t. Do you want more? Think about your specific challenges and share those with us during the process. You don’t have to be an MDC expert, that’s our job. Still not sure how to proceed? Contact us using the form below or send an inquiry and we’ll help you make sense of it all.