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Patented Technology is a First in the CNC Controls Industry

ANN ARBOR, MI—For the first time in the CNC controls industry, manufacturing managers can now collect, manage, and distribute manufacturing data from a CNC machine tool in real time–automatically, without operator intervention, and without specialty hardware–and make it available across a company network. Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc.™ (MDSI™) announced the latest release of its software CNC machine tool control, OpenCNC┬« Version 2.1. Version 2.1 provides a new utility, Significant Events Manager™, to manage the collection and distribution of Significant Events™ data generated by CNC machine tools.

In addition, the latest release of OpenCNC software supports up to ten axes of simultaneous motion and provides many new functions to control a wider range of CNC machine tools.

The patented Significant Events technology of OpenCNC Version 2.1 gives managers the ability to view, manage, collect, and distribute machine tool events such as cycle start or program end from a remote terminal, workstation or PC, away from the shop floor, in real time–enabling manufacturers to use data captured from their CNC machine tools to run their operations more efficiently and cost–effectively.

"A manager or engineer sitting at a terminal three buildings away, three states away, or a continent away can view and distribute significant machine events–as they occur–on an individual machine or a collection of machines," says Jim Fall, MDSI vice president of marketing. "This provides the manufacturing staff the real-time data they need to make timely decisions and continuously improve their manufacturing processes."

Several types of data—including production, quality, and maintenance—can be collected from the machine automatically, without operator intervention. For production planning, data such as cycle times or part counts can be transferred automatically, in real time, to MRP or Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). For quality control, data that reflects the manufacturing process can be captured and integrated with SPC systems to understand manufacturing capabilities. And maintenance departments can obtain immediate information on machine tool performance and use it to predict when to schedule maintenance.

At the core of the OpenCNC software is a real–time database, which means that real-time data collection and distribution from a machine tool is an automatic result of running the software. Gaining access to the data does not require operator intervention or specialty hardware.

"Data can be displayed at the operator station," Fall explained, "or sent over a network to a spreadsheet program, database system or machine maintenance program."

OpenCNC Version 2.1 is being used at Great Lakes Industry (GLI) in Jackson, Michigan. "We're now able to take significant events from the CNC machine and compile a picture of what a machine tool is doing every single day," says Don Werner, GLI vice president. "We can monitor when the offsets on a program are being edited and spot when a program is not written correctly. If I see five changes to offsets being made in an hour, I know there's a problem. We can also create our own preventive maintenance programs. By adding sensors and writing our own soft logic, I can monitor following errors and see when a tool is getting dull. I can put vibration or thermal sensors on the machine and spot problems before they occur."

Werner also likes the fact that the data collection is done automatically. "Instead of relying on an operator to report problems to the maintenance department," he says, "now a message is sent automatically to the appropriate department and they have objective data to work with. We expect to be able to prevent breakdowns before they occur. And because the control also signals automatically when a cycle is completed, we can determine the number of completed cycles that have been run, instead of relying on an operator to manually count them."

Dennis Sherman, GLI controller, set up the system that allows OpenCNC data to be captured by the company's database. "We're currently monitoring floor cycles," he said, "which are comprised of machine time, flip time, and idle time. We then summarize this information and average it into one-hour segments and start to track profiles or trends. We are getting more information than we were ever able to before, in less time, and it's more accurate. This will change the way we run our factory."

OpenCNC is the only production-proven, unbundled software-based CNC machine tool control on the market. Unlike traditional CNC controls, OpenCNC uses no proprietary hardware or motion control cards. The entire control is delivered on a disk. Because it's unbundled software, manufacturers are not locked into proprietary arrangements for hardware, control repair, or control upgrades.

OpenCNC has been proven through more than five years of production at a wide range of manufacturing sites.

Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. supplies factory automation software and services that increase manufacturing flexibility and enable agile manufacturing. The company's primary product is OpenCNC, a software-based CNC control that reduces machine tool control costs and extends the productive life of machine tools. MDSI's business strategy emphasizes technological and price/performance leadership, hardware independence and comprehensive customer support. The company's customers, spanning virtually every industry, include Boeing, Caterpillar, Dana-Spicer, Detroit Diesel, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Lockheed-Martin, Tecumseh Products Company, and Teledyne.

OpenCNC is a registered trademark of Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. MDSI and the MDSI logo are trademarks of Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. All other brand or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.