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Managing technical data on the factory floor: new type of reporting system takes advantage of existing DNC networks.

New type of reporting system takes advantage of existing DNC networks.

Distributed numerical control (DNC) networks are being used to communicate NC machine code between computers, one or more program storage devices, and CNC units on machine tools, robots, and other production equipment. These dedicated local-area networks could carry other useful information, but seldom do.

At the same time, operators observe many important conditions at their machines or workstations, but have not had an adequate means for reporting those conditions quickly, fully, and accurately. Shop managers could make good use of timely reports on machine status, jobs in progress, tool conditions, setup, and so on, but thus far the only tailored reporting system available has been the operator and his trusty clipboard.

Now, though, users of NCNet, the DNC networking system from RWT Corp, Mt Prospect, IL, have a better way to collect shop-floor technical data, analyze them, and transmit and display them to concerned managers.

Called Shopview, this PC-based system takes operator and machine data-collected by NCNet from both NC and non-NC machine tools and workstations-and creates a visual summary of current status at each station. In addition, Shopview processes the information to provide reports on machine performance, order history, repair, maintenance, and idle time.

In effect, therefore, Shopview is a system for collection, analysis, and display of factory data that makes use of existing DNC wiring and display facilities. The system enables you to monitor or record up to 16 events or functions on each work order, and provides automatic monitoring of up to 64 machine-tool functions.

Shopview runs on any computer having an MSDOS or PC-DOS operating system. Both NCNet and Shopview employ the company's RWT 6080 industrial operator terminals, along with optional RWT 6035 operator consoles with input by bar-code wand and keypad. Once a network and terminals have been installed for NCNet no additional hardware is required for Shopview.

Visual summaries

Shopview's display of current status produces a visual summary of each workstation, showing what's happening everywhere in the plant. "Shopview gives management better control of the plant, and provides information necessary to identify production delays and make timely decisions," says Richard A Myers, RWT vice president.

"Without an information-reporting system, management has only slow, inaccurate ways to identify delays and control them. With our system, the operator simply presses a key or two, and management knows exactly what's happening."

An important delay factor is machine setup time. The operator may have to wait for tooling, fixtures, or material before he can go into production on a job. Shopview tells management the precise cause of setup delays, so they can be shortened or eliminated.

Another type of delay comes from the need to replace tools that are dull, broken, or out of adjustment. "Minutes lost to these delays soon turn into hours, and hours into weeks," Myers points out. "A good data collection and reporting system helps to pinpoint and prevent delays caused by tool problems."

Status displayed

The system's current-status display identifies individual machine and operator, order and operation in process, and current machine mode. This may be setup, production, maintenance/repair, or standby.

When a machine is idle, the system captures the reason for the idle status-no order, lack or material, lack of fixture, or other. If a machine is being repaired, Shopview identifies the nature of the repairs-e.g., hydraulics, spindle, servo, or other.

A useful feature of the generated reports is calculation and display of actual production time versus total time available. This provides a running summary of station productivity.

The standard report package includes a history of any order in process, and an operations summary. This shows all orders in process during a given time period. A machine utilization summary by machine tool, an idle-time summary, and a maintenance/repair summary can also be displayed or printed out.

An optional program displays management reports in graphic form as pie charts, line drawings, or bar charts, all in full color.

A machine utilization summary enables you to compare productivity of different machines. This information helps to correct problems quickly, and contributes to better machine-purchase decisions.

A maintenance/repair summary helps you to pinpoint causes of delays and their frequency. Examples include bad seals in hydraulic pumps, and toolchangers that need rebuilding or replacement.

Menu-driven editing

Shopview provides easy, menudriven editing, so you can specify machines, orders, and time range of information for reports. For example, if you want a report on a particular machine tool or order during a six-hour period, the menu makes it easy to customize the report according to these parameters.

An automatic database maintenance feature is included. Data more than six months old are automatically transferred to backup memory.

RWT Corp says that worldwide, over 5000 machine tools now operate through NCNet DNC links. The company also reports an installed base of some 1200 programming stations.

For more information, write to RWT Corp, 1601 Feehanville Dr, Suite 500, Mt Prospect, IL 60056. Phone: 312-390-0200. 2101
COPYRIGHT 1989 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:distributed numerical control
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jan 1, 1989
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