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How do you decide between conversational (shop floor) programming and
programming off line?
We are getting a new MAZAK vertical and I am wondering if we should switch
from manual G code programming to Mazatrol. Our parts are mostly simple and we
have small runs. I have done a little Mazatrol programming and it seems like a
very useful tool. Are you aware of any drawbacks to this method? I looking
forward to more great articles In MMS. Thank you. Darin Brockman
While there may be some in this industry that disagree with me, my feeling
is that conversational programming (like Mazatrol), while simple, should only
be used if its application fits. Generally speaking conversational programming
on the shop floor should only be used when there is no time to be preparing
programs while the machine is running in production. That is, the machine must
be down during the programming process. In this case, conversational
programming makes the most efficient method to get programs prepared. Maybe lot
sizes are very small and 90% or more of your jobs are new ones. Or maybe lead
time is extremely short in conjunction with a high percentage of new jobs.
These are common scenarios in contract shops (job shops) and tooling producing
companies (or tool rooms in product-producing companies).
If there is time to be preparing programs off line, I urge people to do it.
While it may take longer to get programs prepared, the machine can be producing
during this task. This way, programs can be being prepared while the machine is
in production. In most product-producing companies, for example, there is a
great percentage of repeated jobs, so very few new programs must be prepared.
Additionally, lead times are great enough to allow many things (including
programming) to be done up-front, before the job hits the machine.
Admittedly, many conversational controls allow programs to be prepared while
the machine is running, but with all the distractions an operator faces when
running production, this is rarely feasible.
While there may be other factors that contribute to when conversational
programming should be used, these are the most basic points. I hope I've
answered your question. If more come up, please feel free to contact me again.
from Joe at Caterpillar:
This in response to the conversational verse G code programming, and what
a story to tell. I work for a very big name , but our shop is very small, maybe
40 souls. During this recession we have done extraordinary things to survive,
mostly because of our will to and a very talented group of people. And last
,but, not least our Mazak machine tools, mainly the mills have helped us keep
up. We were able to bring in a lot of parts, efficiently and timely. Tooling
and proving at remarkable speed. I believe we could have had 3 full time
programmers and not met the deadlines imposed on us. We were able to do this
with our pool of shop floor talent, letting everyone excel. Granted you will
find G code in most of programs, because sometimes it is more cost effective,
but Mazatrol eliminates the redundancy, letting talented shop floor people get
the work out.
from Adam Fishman at Merlin Machine and Tooling
In response to your Mazatrol vs. G-code question, I have owned a Mazak
vertical that had the capability to use either Mazatrol or G-code, as well as
other Fanuc only machines. The question of whether or not to use the Mazatrol
might not matter if you do not have any communication software that will enable
you to download your Mazatrol part programs to your PC. I'm not sure which
version of Mazatrol you are using, but before Fusion, you needed another
program such as Griffo Brothers or Mazacam to be able to save part programs.
These programs are (were) quite expensive, and I think only the Mazacam allowed
the programming offline (it simulates Mazatrol).
Programming in Mazatrol is very easy, and quick, at least for simple parts.
Every once in a while, you will have to "lie" to the machine to
actually have it follow the path that you want. Experience will help here. Be
careful though, since the machine will be actually processing quite a few
movements from very little operator input, it is easy to "break"
things. For example, if your safe approach distance for drilling a series of
holes is +2.000 on Z, that doesn't mean that the machine will go up to +2.000
on Z BETWEEN the holes, but only on the approach to the first hole, and depart
from the last. The distance on Z that it will move to, before moving to the
next hole will be the clearance height for your peck drilling cycle. Not good
if you have clamps on the top of the part. Yeah, I've broken a tool here and
My advice would be to take the time and set up a Parametric system using
standard G-codes. If your machines have different controls and codes, then set
up one for each one. There literally is no faster and safer way to
program...yet. Or if you don't feel comfortable with that, look at buying a CAM
system - Gibbs and BobCad are easy to use. Communication can be managed with
any number of free communication programs, such as NCLink form OneCNC. For
cable wiring diagrams, refer to GE's Fanuc site.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to e-mail me at