CNC Programming Automation: Removing the Fear of Forgetting a G-Code

CNC Programming Automation: Removing the Fear of Forgetting a G-Code

Customer’s market:

Hydac provides custom hydraulics and components, including parts between the ranges of 2” to 40”, to OEM’s, manufacturers and end users alike.

Customer’s goal:

Hydac’s goal was to be more efficient in programming and to eliminate “bad” moves; which can cause a variety of issues including: scrap parts, increased lead time and machine downtime due to crashes.

Criteria:

Hydac needed to have all programs ready before the parts got to the machine to help increase efficiency and to ensure maximum machine uptime. In order to check for issues beforehand, the company also wanted to be able to see the part run in the Edgecam before running it in the machine.

The Silverhawk Solution:

Silverhawk provided Hydac with Edgecam for a solution to their programming needs. Hydac was especially appreciative of our customer service through the process. Our knowledgeable Application Engineers were always ready to help any time they had a question or got stuck using Edgecam. Hydac also remarked about us helping them understand the basics of strategies and automation.

Results:

When Hydac launched Edgecam, there was about a 3-month period where they were in training and getting a feel for the software. There were a couple of normal bumps and bruises along the way as they got up to speed on using Edgecam instead of programming manually, but that is to be expected.

Before Edgecam, every man programmed his own parts at Hydac. They had no measured process for programming, so they had very little control over the process, or the time wasted with valuable men programming at the machine.

Some were better than others at programming; but it was not uncommon to hear machines crash on a monthly, if not weekly basis. At any given time, there would be a couple machines sitting idle while an operator was programming at the machine.

Hydac used to have 100% of their programs written by operators; but since deploying Edgecam that has reduced to about 10%. The strategies and automation have been helpful to streamline the programming process. 

For many simple turning parts, through the use of strategies, they can be programmed in about 5 minutes. More complicated turning parts can be programmed in about 20 minutes. Hydac is currently writing about 1300-1500 programs a year. 90% of these are written in Edgecam and they now have only one programmer doing this.

Another benefit with Edgecam is that, unlike in the old days when a programmer would have to remember all the specifics of each machine when programming, the post handles gets the code correct so all the programmer has to focus on is the toolpath. 

This allows the programmer to be able to multitask without the fear of “forgetting” a code.

Scottie Anderton, CNC Programmer at Hydac wrote:

My favorite part of Edgecam is the automation. We are constantly tweaking these to allow our process to improve. The possibilities are endless with what can be accomplished through automation using strategies in Edgecam.

For example, in hydraulics we are very specific on how we cut our seal grooves as that is a “critical to quality” component to our product. So, we have written a strategy that allows us to just pick the groove feature to be machined; and it will perform the entire process specifically as we want it to. This strategy runs in about 1 second and many times it puts out about 20 – 30 tool moves. 

The ability to micro-manage the process at this level is a real benefit.

The simulator has also been very helpful as it will detect any undercuts or collisions. A quick 30 second run of the simulator watching that nothing flashes red helps to ensure that there will be no issues when running at the machine.

As we do run quantities on average of 2 to 4 pcs, it is hard to give solid numbers related to Edgecam; but the benefits are easily seen here. 

With so many setups being done, and with such small quantities we had always operated as a “job” shop. Hire the best, most qualified, and often highest paid men to ensure that you get quality parts made. 

The issue that we were faced with is that there is a declining number of skilled workers in the market so we have had to work around this in a shop where we are constantly setting up and running new parts.

By having one programmer, the operators can focus on setup and running the machine without worrying about the code. This has allowed us to allow new employees to be trained within days instead of weeks and months. 

For example: In our machining center department, we currently have 1 experienced man and 3 men who have worked here less than 6 months. This happened due to unforeseen circumstances and in the old days would have really slowed down production. If we relied on them to program, then we would have major problems; but things are running relatively smoothly thanks to the programs already being written for them. 

Overall, Edgecam has sped up our programming process and has reduced the number of crashes caused by bad moves; and has also helped us to standardize our processes to ensure that we can stay competitive in this highly competitive market. I would highly recommend Edgecam and say that it has met our expectations.

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Replacing system for system is not enough, you must revolutionize the way the customer works, to provide him an exceptional return on his investment. Then support them with outstanding customer service, building a lasting relationship.

Steve Harrison Signature

President

– Silverhawk Solutions

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