CNC trainer shows how machine shops can use texting alerts
While large companies have been using technologies that can call, text or e-mail machine shop owners with alarm alerts technology for a few years now, systems are now available for small machine shops that run unattended cycles over the weekend and on holidays.
Randy Pearson, a longtime veteran of the machine tool industry, and currently a Siemens sales support manager who trains users on CNC machine tools, has recently begun teaching small to mid-sized companies how to use texting alerts for unattended operations.
“In the past, when you would setup your machines for unattended operations,” says Pearson, “you often had the following scenario: Load the bar feeder, set the program, go home and pray nothing goes wrong. About 15 years ago, some machine tool and fabricating equipment companies began to have call centers to flag you on an alarm, but those systems were often hit-or-miss, depending on the quality of the personnel and the chances of reaching you at your designated phone number. Entire weekends might have meant lost production due to a single tool break, bar jam, low lube or coolant level, air compressor stall, spindle speed slowdown or just a power spike.”
With the the @Event software in the Siemens Sinumerik 840D CNC (which is called the Easy Message feature on the new Siemens 828D CNC), machine shop owners and operators can get alarm alerts by phone, fax, e-mail or mobile phone via a call or SMS text message. “A message telling you what alarm has tripped comes to you automatically, because the software is encrypted right on the CNC,” Pearson says.
Using this technology changes the procedure for unattended CNC operations. According to Pearson, the new procedure is: “You load the bar feeder and setup the machine for a pre-determined alarm tag or sequence of alarms, since the machine can now periodically alert you to various parameter checks. Then, you set the program and go home. Since the alarm is set off the fault code on the machine, there’s no human intervention whatsoever, and the messages are completely automated.”
“These systems keep your productivity in motion, all weekend or anytime you can reasonably run unattended. For shops where you have more machines than operators, this can be an instant journey into the world of remote alarm sequencing, formerly the realm of only the biggest shops and captive production departments in automotive, aerospace and other dedicated production operations.”
Pearson adds that most popular CNC brands currently have some type of e-mail client server such as Outlook Express, but he considers the Easy Message and @Event systems to be the next step up, because the software is fully automated to send messages to selectable locations in different modes for an array of messages. The e-mail or text message, for example, can contain one or more alarm messages, with details provided as attachments. One e-mail or text can be set for each alarm or sent periodically with all the alarm messages.