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The secret to increasing the productivity of CNC machines.

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As manufacturing processes continue to evolve, and new technologies revolutionise traditional methods of production, there's one attribute that remains as important now as it ever was— productivity.

The constant search for increased productivity is an essential component of reducing costs and increasing profits. And it can be quite surprising just where improvements in productivity can be found.

It could be assumed, for example, that the automation and precision offered by current CNC machines ensures manufacturing cutting tools is as efficient as possible all the time. But the technology you choose and, even more importantly, the way you use that technology can offer significant improvements to your business's productivity.

Small changes in operation will lead to small savings in time. And these small reductions in time will grow exponentially to create major improvements in profitability.

Let's talk specifics.

Off-line preparation and measurement.

Tool and cutter grinding machines always require some form of preparation to batch grind cutting tools within a production environment, loading blanks into the pallets, gathering the required collets, support shoes, pallets, grinding programs and so on. This is an integral part of preparation. But it's possible to save a significant amount of machine downtime by having a skilled grinder manage these activities for each job before they're needed. In most cases this is done by the operator while a batch is being ground on the machine. They gather the required tooling, drawings, measuring the wheel packs off-line. At the same time, grinding programs are also downloaded directly into the machine control to further increase efficiency.

Quick-change tooling quickly increases productivity.

Reducing set up times is the fastest way to increase production and profits. For instance, the automatic wheel changers, standard on ANCA machines, is one of the quick-change tooling techniques that assists you to choose and organise wheel packs to suit a variety of cutting tool types. The wheel changer software tracks wheel use and can be programmed to deploy a different wheel via the "Redundant Wheel pack" function. All this significantly reduces hours of machine downtime.

The automatic collet changer is another option on ANCA machines that allows you to program a variety of tool types on multiple shank diameters, thus eliminating the setup time in changing the collets for a given shank size. Again, another time saving feature to increase productivity.

Up-to-date equipment ups productivity.

Technology is ever evolving, and you're always going to find that the latest equipment is more precise and efficient than previous versions. If you hang on to a machine for too long, you may discover that the time spent on secondary operations to bring its output up to satisfactory levels makes replacement financially worthwhile.

Inventory management that manages efficiently.

Proper inventory planning can make a huge difference to your bottom line. You don't want to run out of something you need and disappoint a customer with late delivery. But, at the same time, holding too much inventory unnecessarily can jeopardise your cash flow. The right enterprise resource planning can help your business run as efficiently as possible.

A wizard that'll really help.

ANCA CNC machines come with a conversational programming software wizard that can really save you some time. Simply answer three or four questions about the project and it'll immediately set most of the parameters for you. Then, just finesse the details to get exactly what you want, and now you're ready to go.

Of course, if you've made the tool before, it's even easier. With the tool browser you can call up a previous program in seconds and get straight to work. Calling up a packaged bundle complete with files for tool grinding, wheel, dresser, measurement operations and loader means you're ready to grind on demand.
Wheel packs let you keep rolling.

Another timesaver is our Wheel Pack System. The FX, MX and TX Linear range offer multiple independent wheel packs with up to four wheels in each that allow you to swap wheels on the go, as needed. No more downtime as you head off searching for the right wheels in storage or, even worse, realise you have to order the one you need from a supplier.

What's more, as the wheel packs change, the coolant lines change too. So, you save additional time by not having to adjust the coolant lines positioning every time you change wheel packs.

Get into in-machine measuring.

Naturally, all ANCA CNC machines come with in-machine measuring to ensure you're getting exactly what you're expecting, without the need to remove the tool and measure separately.

The all-new runout measurement and full compensation software digitises the runout on the blank closer to the collet and at the end of the tool. The measured values are then evaluated and the cutting features ground on an actual blank centreline. This means increased productivity and reduced scrap.

The iView system uses a camera to measure the features of a tool and also compare the tool with an ideal overlay profile generated by the software to guarantee accuracy. You can also choose ANCA's premium in-process tool measuring system, LaserUltra. Mounted inside the machine, this fully automatic system uses a laser beam to measure a cutting tool's dimensions without removing it from the tool grinder. The software then compares a ground tool's actual measurements to the nominal tool geometry. If needed, the machine automatically compensates to ascertain tools are consistently within required tolerances. As well as saving time, you'll save money with a reduction in scrap parts.

The RoboMate will become your best friend.

ANCA's RoboMate loading system also saves you time by completely automating the loading process. Loading parameters, such as tool pick-up height, or collet insertion depth, are controlled by the LoaderMate software. You can even load different groups of blanks and collets and have the machine automatically change from one program to the next at the appropriate time. This offers truly autonomous operation and enables the operator to work on something else while the machine just gets on with it, again greatly increasing productivity.

The RoboMate comes standard with two pallets on the MX range but can be upgraded to a four-pallet option with no increase in the size of its footprint.

Productivity equals profit.

With technology and software continually evolving, the opportunities for further increasing productivity are inevitable. But by using the current capabilities of ANCA CNC machines in as efficient a way as possible, you can already significantly increase your business's productivity.

This will ensure you're ideally placed to meet current demand and have the potential to continue to grow your business.

16 February 2022