While we all recognize the value of new and innovative equipment, we sometimes overlook the competitive advantages that innovative software creates. Modern machine and software innovations drive greater productivity and efficiency. They provide the competitive advantage companies are looking for. Without innovative software and control systems, machines would be powerless. Today’s modern software and controls can truly make all the difference in getting from the order to the finished product in a timely and efficient manner. They can also make the hiring process much easier.
Today’s advanced technology continues to forge new paths that accomplish tasks faster and better than ever before. Today’s high-end fabrication machinery has built-in “smart knowledge” that’s been incorporated directly into the machine’s software by the equipment manufacturer. The bottom line is that you no longer need to hire only experienced operators. For the most part, “old-school” knowledge has been incorporated into the modern CNC control software that drives the machines.
As smartphones and tablet computers have become more powerful, the opportunity to create mobile applications to monitor machine productivity is now also a reality. Fabricators are now able to monitor the production status of their CNC machines. System messages can be monitored remotely. Web-enabled, high-definition cameras allow users to keep a “virtual eye” on the machine without having to physically be there.
New control technologies allow a tablet to replicate some of the functions that an operator would normally perform on the machine control screen. With the Remote Tablet Machine Control, an operator can take the tablet with them and operate certain machine functions while at a different location at the machine. This also enables operators to control functions remotely without having to return to the main controller.
New machine software can communicate machine and production data to Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and Overall Process Efficiency (OPE) software systems for production and statistical analysis. This analysis helps manufacturers to streamline production and increase the overall efficiency and effectiveness of their equipment.
How ‘smart’ is the CNC control software on your current machines? Are your machines over 10 years old? Are they complicated to operate because they are using older technology that requires specialized knowledge?
Modern CNC control software makes learning to operate today’s complex machinery faster and easier, enabling operators to be productive almost immediately. Attracting qualified young people to the metal fabrication industry is hard enough, so why not entice them with the latest modern CNC software operating technology?
Operating machine controls that reflect current interfaces such as touch screens and other features found on today’s modern smartphones/tablets is an enticing start. CNC control software capabilities are often influential factors when a prospective candidate decides whether or not to accept or decline a position as a CNC machine operator.
The next time you are looking for a metal cutting or bending machine remember to spend some time looking closely at the software. Don’t just look at the offline programming software. Look at the embedded software systems and controls that drive the machine and make it easy to operate. Software and controls can truly make all the difference in getting from the order to the finished product in a timely and efficient manner. They can also make the hiring process much easier.
By Frank Arteaga, Head of Product Marketing, Bystronic Inc., Hoffman Estates, IL