GE Fanuc launches shop-floor intelligence software, new CNC

Charlottesville, VA—GE Fanuc Automation launched new software to reduce machine downtime, optimize performance, and boost quality; introduced its next-generation CNC to U.S. customers, and noted the manufacture of its 5 millionth ac servo motor, in three March 8 announcements.


Charlottesville, VA— GE Fanuc Automation launched new software to reduce machine downtime, optimize performance, and boost quality; introduced its next-generation CNC to U.S. customers, and noted the manufacture of its 5 millionth ac servo motor, in three March 8 announcements.

Shop-floor intelligence software
New iCellOEE shop-floor intelligence software, from GE Fanuc Automation Americas Inc., collects real-time availability, performance and quality data from machine tools and production systems. Such information aims to help companies understand the dynamics of the shop floor and identify root causes of losses due to downtime, setup, speed, minor stoppages, and part yield. The Microsoft Windows-based software is expandable and Web-enabled, built on GE Fanuc’s Cimplicity human-machine interface software development tools.

Process improvement requires data collection and analysis, says Douglas Peterson, GE Fanuc’s CNCs and lasers VP. “iCellOEE combines the Six Sigma process management knowledge of GE with the machine tool expertise of Fanuc to deliver a powerful productivity boost, which is exactly what machining companies urgently need to help improve competitiveness.”

By improving access to and analysis of shop-floor operations information to reduce machine downtime, boost equipment performance, and improve process quality, users can increase overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), explains Mark Brownhill, GE Fanuc’s machine tool services manager. He adds that availability, performance and quality feed OEE, a measure of planned output. Six related losses are setup, breakdowns, speed reduction, minor stoppages, setup yield, and production yield, he says.

Features of iCellOEE include graphical and tabular reporting with screens related to production and efficiency, part program management and maintenance management. Jim Spearman, GE Fanuc’s machine tool solutions manager, suggests that information availability helps make iCellOEE the next generation of shop-floor intelligence software. Users can access data on cycle and setup times and finished part status to pinpoint bottlenecks, evaluate machine tool productivity, and determine quality issues for an individual machine to improve OEE, locally or via Web browser. The software also provides tools to remotely diagnose problems with machine ladder logic and alarm and operation history displays with additional remote functionality for backup and restore. Users can connect directly to Ethernet- or high-speed serial bus (HSSB)-enabled CNCs and via data collection modules and RS-232 Ethernet conversion modules to legacy and third-party CNCs.

CNC debuts in U.S.
Following last fall’s introduction in Europe (in October 2003 at EMO in Milan), GE Fanuc is now introducing its Series 30i CNC in North America to help manufacturers achieve new levels of accuracy, reliability and efficiency in all machine tool operations, states the company. With what GE Fanuc calls “industry-leading” processing speeds, this new CNC can “reduce rework, increase throughput, and help users become more competitive than ever before.” Series 30i can control up to 40 independent axes and execute up to 10 independent NC part programs simultaneously. Interpolation cycle is eight times as fast as the conventional interpolation cycle, delivering quicker cuts with improved machining accuracy for improved quality and part cycle time.

Nanometer interpolation (1/1,000,000 mm) is done for all internal operations of the CNC, and is performed for all machining, milling or turning, enabling smooth and precise motor control. The look-ahead feature is expanded to 1,000 blocks, while block-processing time is as fast as 0.4 milliseconds. This timing significantly improves the minute linear segment block processing capability required for machining sculptured surfaces and complex die geometries. Series 30i capabilities include die machining; multi-process machining for milling, turning and grinding; five-axis machine tools; multi-head machines; dial index machines; transfer-line machines; and linear-motor-based machines, which use more axes and more paths to improve efficiency.

Bill Griffith, GE Fanuc’s CNC product manager, says integration of safety and controls allows more to be done with guard doors open, saving setup time. Users can do probing without expertise needed for G code. Griffith also sees as much as a 55% improvement in efficiency, compared to the previous servo system. Machine tool professionals, adds Peterson, face increasingly complex jobs, “while intense competition forces them to keep costs extremely low. With the new Series 30i CNC… machine shops can exceed these demands through improved process efficiency and shorter production cycles.”

Series 30i CNC, considered the next platform for the company, builds on current Series 15i-MB and 16i Model B, with more powerful and sophisticated CPUs and internal communication bus technologies. Series 30i has a larger display, a 15-in. color liquid-crystal display (LCD), in addition to conventional 8.4- and 10.4-in. color LCDs. New vertically arranged soft keys are said to permit more intuitive, easy-to-understand CNC operations. A standard “QWERTY” keyboard can also be provided. Any of 15 languages can be displayed and changed “on-the-fly” by softkey selection, making the CNC an ideal solution for global corporations or machine-tool professionals with a multicultural workforce. The PMC (programmable machine control) CPU is a RISC-type processor that does the sequencing for the machine control, enabling up to three ladders to run independently without degradation in the speed of the ladder paths. As a result, PMC can provide flexible, high-speed sequence control required for machine tools with peripheral equipment like part loading, gantries, shuttles and more. New error-correcting code and periodic back-ups of user data in flash memory, facilitate quick restoration of system memory in case of accidental erasures.

Series 30i is available as an open system CNC with the Series 300i, which is an Open CNC that supports Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP. Another option is Series 300is, an Open CNC using Windows CE.Net. Each supports Fanuc Open CNC API Specifications, Version 2 (Focas2), as the interface for information exchange between a CNC and a personal computer. For machine-tool OEMs, a variety of customizing tools allow value-added features for competitive differentiation. CNC screens are made up of combinations of parts, and users can employ definition files to freely change the layout of screen parts. With expanded custom macros, axis motion and I/O signal processing can be performed in parallel, while synchronization with the NC program is maintained. These enhancements allow simple control of peripheral equipment.

The 30i will be shown at Westec Advanced Productivity Exposition (Booth #3542) on March 22-25 in Los Angeles.

5 millionth servo motor sold
Fanuc Ltd. and GE Fanuc Automation announced production of their 5 millionth Fanuc AC servo motor, which they say is a record in the industry. Launched in 1982, with the S Series, Fanuc AC servo motors have “become a standard for reliability in machine tools, industrial robots, and electric injection molding machines,” according to the company. Many subsequent models include á Series servo motors, which feature high speed, high precision and less power consumption, and the ái Series with high-resolution pulse encoders for nano control.

Fanuc says its motors are used in approximately 75% of the machine tools in Japan and in 55% of the tools worldwide. Fanuc AC servo motors are produced in Japan at the company’s highly automated servo motor factory with 360 robots. Intelligent robots are used extensively to detect position and condition of the parts through vision sensors. The factory also uses GE Fanuc’s Cimplicity software to visualize and manage production status and quality data.

GE Fanuc Automation, a joint venture between GE and Fanuc Ltd. of Japan, provides an array of capabilities and products, including controllers, embedded systems, advanced software, motion control, CNCs, operator interfaces, industrial computers, and lasers. GE Fanuc Automation is part of GE Infrastructure.

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Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Mark Hoske, editor-in-chief

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