Modern-day machining can no longer rely on the eyes and ears of the CNC operator. The necessity for employing smart technology systems is essential to optimize cutting, protect the machine and tooling, and boost production. Choosing and investing in the right technology to automate and advance manufacturing processes can be challenging, particularly if you are in the business of manufacturing pricy parts, have longer cycle times, or are machining hard and composite materials. Even with these manufacturing challenges, by integrating smart technology, cycle times can be reduced significantly, machines can run unattended, and tools can be maximized and safely used to their (almost) breaking points.
A product like Caron Engineering’s TMAC (Tool Monitoring Adaptive Control) system directly interfaces with almost any CNC machine control and utilizes a separate high-speed processor to react instantaneously to conditions and make real-time automatic corrective adjustments during cutting. TMAC monitors true spindle motor power to detect tool wear and breakage in real-time. Many systems monitor current, which is a non-linear, and therefore, can be a less accurate measurement of tool wear. TMAC learns the peak power and area under the curve (power over time) of the cutting tool and can monitor tool wear based on these parameters.
Caron Engineering customers are recognizing the benefits and quick ROI of investing in their technology.
One of Caron Engineering’s aerospace manufacturing customers had TMAC installed on five horizontal machining centers cutting titanium parts. TMAC has enabled them to get real data off the machines to show the programmers how the machines are reacting to their part programs. They have realized some very serious gains by implementing TMAC. To start, TMAC detects worn tooling during operation. Using the adaptive control feature, TMAC automatically slows the feed rate down during rough operations to keep the tool from breaking as it begins to deteriorate, allowing them to cut more parts per tool. These parts also contain a lot of air cutting. TMAC (adaptive control) automatically increases the feed rate in these areas to reduce cycle time. (see image A). They no longer need to be ultra conservative with their speeds and feeds, knowing TMAC will make the necessary adjustments for them. They are seeing reductions in cycle time of 20 – 26% per machine.
TMAC has also given them the confidence to run their machines overnight and during weekends, at times when there are no operators present. They can load up their pallet system and tool carousels and then walk away for the weekend. If TMAC detects a tool is worn, it will automatically call a redundant tool if it’s available in the carousel. The TMAC interrupt program will shuttle out pallets if there is an alarm, to automatically move to the next workpiece, eliminating machine downtime. They return to the shop on Monday and all parts have been cut, or the machine has stopped if TMAC has detected issues or exhausted its tooling and pallets.
PROTECT YOUR MACHINE & TOOLING
Another customer in the oil and gas industry has fully automated work cells. Unbeknownst to the customer, a robot loaded a part incorrectly into the workholding. This customer avoided a devastating crash since the machine was equipped with Caron Engineering’s TMAC system monitoring the real-time power load on the tool.
TMAC immediately registered the power spike as the power load deviated from the norm, triggering an extreme alarm. With TMAC’s direct interface to the CNC control, TMAC instantly stopped the machine before the next insert even came in contact with the material. (see image B)
Without any human intervention, Caron Engineering’s TMAC system shut the spindle off in time to save all the inserts and prevent the customer from destroying the workholding.
The transportation industry is also noticing considerable gains with TMAC. A customer machining compacted graphite iron engine block components has two large identical horizontal machining centers, running the same part and process. Both machines are running 6 parts per shift.
The customer implemented Caron Engineering’s TMAC system on one of the two identical HMC’s. The machine running TMAC saw an immediate cycle time reduction of 25% using the adaptive control option, automatically adjusting the feedrate through material cutting.
In addition, the operators were performing multiple critical checks throughout the process. With TMAC, these manual checks were no longer needed since TMAC runs these checks in real time. By eliminating these manual checks and gaining the ability to run the machine unattended, cycle time on this part was reduced by an additional 16%.
The implementation of TMAC on this machine resulted in a total cycle time savings of 41%. They are now producing 10.2 parts per shift, compared to only 6 on the identical HMC running without TMAC. This customer has since ordered nine more TMAC systems.