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How to Get the Most Out of Your Control

Date:2016-10-17 16:33:43View:

First, we’ll discuss technology maximization, a techie term for identifying overlooked software features that could maximize productivity. The second section covers training assessment, and how a small investment could lead
to more customers and/or more projects from existing customers. Finally, we’ll review technology upgrades and tips on how to keep on top of emerging technology that could make your business more profitable.  
Top Photo: A mold for a chainsaw case is machined on a 3-axis machine with control features that optimize surface quality and run time. Images courtesy of Hurco.

Old Dog. New Tricks.
Are you maximizing your control’s technology features? It’s easy to get complacent and rest on your laurels when it comes to process efficiency. You’ve invested time and money in getting the right people and the right CAD/CAM system, and they both work well. But could everything work better?

Continual improvement is the primary goal. For instance, if your control has shop floor features, you can maximize the productivity of both your operator and your CAD/CAM department by trying something new. Utilize the CAD/CAM programmer for 3-D features of the part, yet save time by allowing the simple 2-D features to be programmed at the machine—this gives you the best of both worlds!

Your control might have conversational programming that you’ve never even evalsuated. Due to advancements in user interface design and software capabilities, many features that used to be complex have been simplified for the user, which means you can maximize each employee’s participation in the process.

Trickle-Down Training
At a past American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) convention, a panel of members discussing best practices touched on this issue (the discussion summary is available at amba.org). “We have so much technology that we don’t use efficiently,” explains Roger Klouda, president of MSI Mold Builders (Cedar Rapids, IA). “We get as much out of the equipment as we need to do the job and no more. As mold shops, we need to share how we do what we do and learn from each other to get more efficient at machine utilization.”

The panel also acknowledged the value of the under-30 generation’s technology perspective. “Don’t be afraid to hire from the under-30 group, the baggy-pants generation,” notes Tim Holland, president of Metro Mold & Design. “You might be amazed at what they bring to the party. It has helped us to grow and keep up with technology.”

Another benefit of learning your control inside/out is the opportunity to bid on new jobs you never thought about before. One job shop in Indiana has made the reworking of problem molds a central part of its business. They have developed a reputation for their expertise in this area. Their technical knowledge of their equipment and software is their secret sauce in effectively fixing mistakes made in another part of the world.

Do You Know Your Control Inside and Out?
evalsuating the controls on your current equipment is important to understanding future needs. What’s holding you back? Do you have to drip feed programs because your control doesn’t have enough memory? Would different connectivity options be helpful, such as USB or Ethernet? Is the control’s graphics program useful for test runs? For instance, run time graphics combined with an interrupt button let the operator see where he is in the cut, which saves valuable time. Once you know what you need, it’s time to find out the full capabilities of your control and assess training needs. You might be surprised.



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