SST Shop Talk
How CNC Machines Helps Small Businesses Grow
Precision and accuracy
Computer numerical control has been able to help companies in terms of precision. With the need for more complex designs and more complex operations, human workers cannot consistently produce the level of precision required from the design. CNC machines are able to accurately and consistently produce that same design by allowing increased precision and lesser error ratios with regards to production. The CNC machine must be calibrated with a tramming tool in order to achieve the precision cuts.
Another important improvement that CNC has brought with it is the increased accuracy. The dimensions of components have to be very accurate. And since an increase in production speed also increases the error ratio, CNC has helped lower that ratio by the increased level of automation and the error detection capabilities that computers have.
In the industrial sector, speed is of the essence. With CNC technology, the normal production capacity has been increased exponentially. This means that effective and accurate production methods have been developed. Mass production requires more scrutiny for errors and mistakes. However, anomalies can also be corrected. The programming structures of CNC machines can be altered in a fast way. This means that mistakes do not have as serious an impact as they had before CNC was improved to this level.
CNC machines have become very versatile with regards to the tools that they use. They can easily be assigned to different tasks and thus can be very productive. Tools and networks can be switched without compromising the speed of the production. Aside from this, one machine can do more than one task at a time. This exceeds the normal human capacities as it allows more tasks to be accomplished at a faster rate than before. Different cutting bits are used for different jobs, so almost every cut imaginable is possible if you have the right cutting bit.
Furthermore, when one machine tool breaks down, it can easily be pulled off the grid to prevent it from affecting the whole production cycle. It can then be replaced or repaired on the spot.
Lesser Human Intervention
Since component production is a very tedious and repetitive operation, human error skyrockets as time passes. This is due to fatigue and other factors. Furthermore, the ability of a person degrades due to psychological and emotional factors. This means that if a person works on the same job for a certain amount of time, the person may eventually get bored or tired or both. This increases the possibility for the human to commit an error and thus causes a drop in the efficiency rating of that person. A machine, however, does not get tired or bored. A machine does not have any concern at all.
Therefore, a machine increases efficiency ratings by speeding up production and eliminating or reducing factors that threaten efficiency. In this case, one must simply program the machine to start a cycle. Furthermore, humans have to be fed, paid, and rested. Machines only have to be rested when failures occur to often and they do not need to be paid or fed.
This brings us to the conclusion that companies will be able to save a lot in the long run. While investing in CNC machines is not cheap, maintenance will only cost a fraction of what will be paid to manual laborers.
The first person is the CNC programmer. He is like the "playmaker". He will create the programs that the CNC machines are intended to execute. Since the programs are in the form of CNC codes fabricated like sentences, he should have mastered these codes because they work like a different language. The regular CNC machine can use up to 50 codes, so that's like learning 50 new words for the newbie.
Also, the programmer should have at least and engineering or machining degree. Remember that the CNC machine will only execute WHAT IT IS PROGRAMMED TO DO. If the program is wrong, the whole operation goes down the drain with it. Moreover he should also be flexible and have a fast turn-around because a CNC machine is often used to machine a huge selection of different work-pieces.
The third person that will need is the CNC technician. Although this may still be the programmer, it is more convenient to always have a technical expert on-call because in the long run, you may have more than one CNC machine and you may need to prioritize over the other in case both gets crippled at the same time. Just like the programmer, the technician should also be flexible and articulate. CNC offers a lot of complexity when it is running right, how much more if it is behaving badly?
So, if you are having job openings for positions that need to be handling a CNC machine, ask the applicants first to do a demo for you and make sure that during the demo, they know what they're doing. An exam may also do wonders too. If they have no experience with any kind of CNC machine, it is advisable that you encourage them to take short courses on CNC.
Eighty-hour courses are available online and hey, it is better than nothing. Experts even encourage employers to hire CNC machinists who have finished AND PASSED the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) assessment just so they could be sure that their CNC machines will go to good hands. After all, a CNC machine is still an asset.
The second person that you need is the CNC operator. He will simply recheck the programs loaded to the machine and push the right buttons to get the work done. However, thinking that a CNC operator can have little or NO SKILL AT ALL is wrong. A CNC machine operator must have at least basic machining skills and he should have undergone some form of training to run a CNC machine.
These machines can produce very intricate motions, making it possible to make shapes that cannot be created on conventional machine tools. So, the operator should foresee this complexity and know how to cruise with it. The skills that an operator must have though, are lesser compared to the operators of conventional machine tools.