First published in the August 1997 issue of Cutting Tool
All CNC users share at least one common goal. Everyone wants to increase the
effectiveness level of their CNC machine tools. Improvements to CNC utilization
can come in many forms and commonly differ from one CNC user to another.
Reducing setup time may be of great importance to a company having small lot
sizes. Reducing cycle time will be more important to companies with large lot
sizes. Reducing programming time is important to companies seeing little or no
repeat business. There are many CNC utilization improving goals and some are
quite common among CNC users. Everyone would, of course, like to improve
quality, extending tool life, and make better use of their CNC people.
Since each company has different needs, improvements to CNC utilization
often conflict from one CNC user to another. This can lead to confusion and
controversy among CNC users and even among people in your CNC environment,
especially since machine tool, control, and accessory suppliers tend to make
their CNC-related products sound right for everyone. This can easily lead to
misapplication and detract from optimum utilization, based upon your
companys specific needs.
About the only way to truly eliminate utilization conflicts is to thoroughly
understand your companys priorities, corporate identity, and corporate
goals. Truly, the quality of your decisions simply reflects your understanding
of your company. And the most damaging waste stems from not understanding
The primary objective of this article will be to get you thinking about your
companys optimum CNC utilization -- and how far you may be from achieving
it. This involves having a thorough understanding of your companys
priorities. These priorities must, of course, be understood by everyone in your
CNC environment. While much of what we present is relatively easy to
understand, you may be negatively surprised at the number of misconceptions and
misunderstandings that currently exist among people in your CNC environment.