Case study: Ryan fights, with the help of Prodio, the most common causes of CNC machining problems

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    When Friday means troubles

    Picture this: your week is moving along nicely when all of a sudden, the CNC machines in your shop start to produce components that don’t meet the necessary specifications. Straight away, you start to wonder, what’s going on? What causes the machines to malfunction, where is the error? The same questions asked Ryan when he entered his workshop on Friday morning, only to find out there are many problems to fix before the weekend starts. 

    Perhaps the most common cause of CNC machining problems is poor programming. The programming of the computer software directly controls the machine and impacts the outcome. Therefore, incorrect programming leads to product errors. These issues can be difficult to diagnose, particularly for inexperienced operators. 

    To avoid such problems, you make sure to have an experienced programmer oversee operations and comprehensively train new employees.

    “When my partner and I started our company, we wanted to be the best. We didn’t start by buying bargain equipment or hiring the cheapest workforce. We focused on buying the best equipment and investing in the top people because we felt that to reach the level we wanted, we couldn’t afford to.” – says Ryan. 

    When operating appropriately, CNC machines offer many advantages by eliminating inefficiencies, reducing costs, and increasing consistency and productivity. If you experience issues with your CNC machining processes, establish a troubleshooting process, consider these common causes and establish a routine maintenance regimen, you can prevent problems before they happen.

    “It is all very well, but you must have skilled workers to do it,” – comments Ryan. “I am tired of showing them what to do all the time,” he adds. 

    “Manufacturing businesses need skilled workers, and at first, we didn’t have any mechanisms in place for transferring knowledge from retiring employees. There is a smaller pool of talent available now, which is quite alarming (…) every time we hired a new worker, we faced the same issue: the lack of an in-company database. I spent long hours showing them the ropes, so they learned the basics, and after some time, they were gone. And we were back to square one”.  

    Being an owner of CNC manufacture, you probably searched for production management software – and usually, it turned out that because of too many production options in ERP, you would lose flexibility and would be forced to hire someone to fill out all required data…

    “Due to many leasing contracts for CNC machines, we were searching for something which would help us increase profitability. Something with transparent product technology allowing us to collect in just a few steps all information about the product making process and necessary know-how, the sequence of operations and estimated efficiency.” – remembers Ryan. 

    “We aren’t a big company, so an expensive ERP was never an option. I started searching for manufacturing software for a small enterprise, and that’s how I came across Prodio”. 

    “Even during a 14-day trial, we knew it was exactly what we wanted. All documentation and product parameters are in one place, so you can share them wherever it is necessary. Forget spreadsheets/whiteboards at the production hall; plan work for machines and their estimated occupancy in hours/ days /weeks … It’s magic,” – says Ryan.

    Don’t be fooled by a simple form; thanks to clever modifications in the schedule, you can incorporate:

    • the division into preliminary / finishing processing,
    • different types of mount/tool on the same machine,
    • preparation/changeover time.

    And to avoid errors, you can print with one click technological guides containing all information about the product, following the production path making work clear and easy. You can also attach machine settings and set operations path for each product to follow.

    Technologist and machine preparation time is as valuable as real production time. Still, they are often neglected, hence not monitored – and in your industry, this is a possible money leakage.

    Make sure you add in production technology, a machine named “Technologist” and ask constructors, preparing machines software and technical documentation to clock it in/out each time.

    “Since we started using Prodio, the skills gap hasn’t been a major concern,” – smiles Ryan. “The knowledge stays in the company and is easily accessible for everybody. When the issue arises, guys at the production hall consult technical drawings or check the tags on product and comments. It feels like we are in the know”- he chuckles. “If you come from a budget-focused mindset as we do, you can’t afford to use Prodio,” – Ryan adds. 

    Read more on using Prodio software in the machining industry.