With a market cap of $115B, one of the world’s largest aircraft engine manufacturers bought state-of-the-art CNC machines with OSP 300 controls installed to cut very complex and intricate parts that go into aircraft engines.
Let us tell you a little about what in the heck are OSP 300 controls. Well, Okuma makes one of the best Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines in the world. They recently opened a factory of the future called “DS2” – Dream factory in Japan that is every bit of a smart factory. Now the CNCs we are talking about are very advanced 5 Axis milling beasts. For instance, it takes a concrete maker expert to level it where it is supposed to be installed. These are certainly not for the typical job shops. The ones we are talking about are called MU8000 Vertical Machining Centers. The control on them called OSP 300 is also built by Okuma. The Numerical Control software on them runs on MS windows and that’s where we come in. Gotta love these OSP 300 controls!
So, like any other manufacturing plant in the world, these very advanced machines need highly skilled machine operators. They are not your typical Joe Blow. Again, they are Skilled Machinists. It is a joy to watch them operate these machines in real time.
We don’t want these machinist having to waste time poking around in MS Windows, do we? They are there to run these amazing engineering marvels and not learn MS Windows. They need to be able to load a part into the chuck of the machine, close door, find the right CNC part program, select and load it and finally hit cycle start. Of course, there is more to that right? Like where do they find the part program, who gave them to run, which specific part program, are there any sub-programs associated or call outs, what if the part program needs to be edited for correction? The final result is that a CNC Machine cuts the expensive part and out comes a shiny new thing that eventually goes into an aircraft engine. Amazing huh!
Now, here’s where dataZen Engineering comes in. Inspired by these highly skilled machinists and their process challenges, we came up with a better idea. Goal was to allow these CNC machinists on the 5-axis machines to work even more efficiently.
What and how???
For instance these ultra modern CNC machines are capable of connecting to their Automation Local Area Network (LAN). Leveraging the LAN, we kept the CNC Part Programs securely stored on a network server, not on the control itself. Security is a critical business driver for this. Next, we wrote an application that scans the operator’s badge#, pulls out the appropriate part program(s), sub-programs etc. from the secured automation network, applies validation, and loads them directly into the CNC machine showing various colors for status of the part program that was scanned – Red (couldn’t find or load), Yellow (searching in the vast connected network) and Green (found to select and load) and ready for the operator to hit Cycle Start. Amazing huh? This is Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in action where Humans and devices are connected through technology and a process.
Now if the operator steps away momentarily then guess what happens? The HMI screen of the CNC machine goes into an automatic lock mode. Meaning no one else other than the assigned CNC machine operator can unlock and kick-off the operation again.
dataZen Engineering’s application, called P-SCANNER provided a highly skilled machinist with the ability to scan a barcode from a manufacturing order (MO) or a Traveller and load the associated part program automatically either from local machine folder or from over the network. When the barcode is successfully scanned, the associated program details are populated on the screen in color codes and ready for the operator to hit the cycle start!
Did we eliminate some non-productive time? You bet we did.
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