CNC outlook: making tracks in midrange products
Easier CNC programming is creating growth in midrange computer numerical control products, according to Siemens Industry. Advanced features—once available for high-end CNC tools used for aerospace, automotive, and medical applications—eliminate the need to be a CNC guru to gain competitive advantage when using new Siemens midrange product lines. These were among key points that Siemens Industry’s Rajas Sukthankar discussed with Control Engineering recently. Sukthankar, business segment manager, machine tools, said business is on an upswing with Siemens, with more than 20% growth in sales for the last three quarters. Greater capacity utilization, rebound of automotive industrial, and recent expansions in midrange CNC product lines have helped.
During the downturn, Siemens kept its focus on R&D, allowing great traction as manufacturing has emerged from recession, Sukthankar said. At the IMTEX machine tool show in India in February, and at others since, Siemens demonstrated the Sinumerik 828D Basic-series CNC and 1FK7 second–generation servomotor. (See links below.) These are among products particularly useful in the midrange domain of many job shops, between high-end tools and the standard machine tool marketplace with a lower degree of sophistication.
In the middle of the market, Siemens has broadened its offering, targeting areas traditionally served by competitor Fanuc, Sukthankar said. Catering to the needs of machine tool builders and their customers, Sukthankar noted that Siemens offers flexibility to move beyond G-code programming with intuitive CAD/CAM software right on the machine. It’s not either/or, Sukthankar said, and machine tool customers appreciate having that choice of control programming options.
“In some production environments, being able to program all parts directly on the floor make it very easy for an operator to set up and program a job on the fly, very quickly,” Sukthankar said. “It provides instant productivity through faster tool setup and workpiece setup. The interface is easy. You don’t have to be a CNC expert,” he said. See photos for additional examples.
While predicting the future remains a challenge, Sukthankar foresees additional Siemens development and manufacturing in China for that marketplace, a departure for the traditional made-in-Germany mindset. Local product development with Siemens Chinese colleagues is expected to result in faster tool development in line with local requirements, Sukthankar said.
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-Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, Control Engineering, www.controleng.com