Erie, PA--Herkules USA Corp., a machine shop specializing in the design, production, and retrofit of heavy-duty metal-cutting ma-chine tools, has incorporated the Machine Tool Management System (MTMS) into its production processes.
The product, a shop floor control networking system from Greco Systems, El Cajon, CA, is a software suite that combines five individual manufacturing software applications in one complete package.
Herkules' traditional parts-programming process re-quired storing parts pro-grams in the machines in an offline PC and downloading them into the memory of the machine-tool controls from a portable computer.
This 20-minute time-consuming process required frequently used programs to be stored on a disk and kept in a catalog or rack. When any of these programs are required, the PC is wheeled onto the shop floor and linked to the control. The necessary disk is then inserted into the PC and the program is downloaded to the control.
When Herkules introduced SoftCAM, a CAM system, and Heckert, a dual-pallet machining center, this 20-minute process became noticeably inadequate because 32 bits of memory is needed to store the longer SoftCAM programs.
This would become a greater problem down the road as Heckert will eventually be used to produce complex parts requiring long programs.
Further complicating things, an expected increase in work orders would triple the number of employers and re-quire more machines, making efficiency a critical factor in production.
To eliminate the wasted time, Herkules purchased the DNC networking system to manage the parts programs and the processes associated with them.
The system consists of two PCs and five software applications such as WinDNC software, a Windows-based application that stores and manages parts programs--including the long programs required by the dual-pallet machine, and the WinNC Editor, a package for part-program editing capabilities.
One PC features Windows 95 and runs the MTMS application. This PC sits in the engineering manager's office and has a direct link to the machine tool controls. The second PC, which uses Windows NT, sits in the programming area and runs on SoftCAM.
Programs are now stored in electronic files on manufacturing engineer, Al Bruneau's PC, allowing him to queue programs for operators to download directly to their machine tool control. Known as Remote Call Down, this feature allows operators to work from their stations and communicate with Bruneau without running back and forth to the office PC.
Downloading a program now takes only seconds, and operators mastered the system in about a day. "All they have to do is call up a program before they initiate the download," says Bruneau. "It was a no-brainer."
As a result of instituting SoftCAM and the MTMS software suite, Herkules realized a 10% total labor savings, specifically in parts tooling setup and, as a result of this, the company expects to save approximately $5,500 within the first year.
MTMS is customized to meet user applications and is available in a 16- or 32-bit version. It is also capable of communicating with nearly every NC machine tool ever made.