Your aged CNC machines and legacy Distributed Numerical Control (DNC) software can work fine…until they don’t. Maybe the PC communicating to the machines starts dropping characters while transmitting the NC code, scrapping parts being machined if not caught by the operator. Or the hardware that has been in place for years fails, sending you on a painful and labor-intensive search for a fix. You’re not alone. There’s countless online machine forums in which IT, operations and engineers embark on such a mission to find the right parameters, mappings, connections or other ways to solve their problem stemming from an antiquated setup. This can often be the impetus for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), contract manufacturers and job shops to start re-evaluating their entire DNC solution.

One professional wrote about their DNC issue on a Practical Machinist forum, “I am trying to set up communication between OKUMA LB15 OSP5000 and a PC…the machine was connected to an ancient PC with old DNC software running on DOS, and it worked fine until the PC had perished.”

The Power of DNC System Integration

But a lot has changed among DNC systems over the past years that can make teams consider upgrading even before reaching a point of failure. Even more so, the integration of modern DNC with other solutions, such as Production Data Management, Manufacturing Data Collection and Touch HMI, can streamline manufacturing data across applications – something legacy DNCs typically cannot support. The benefit of such a proactive approach is often improved CNC workflow efficiency and productivity. Here’s a few recent DNC enhancements that have helped manufacturers realize these benefits by simplifying CNC program management and manufacturing data control.

  1. Wide OS and Database Support: Modern DNC solutions, like Predator DNC, have added support for Windows 2019 Server, including x64 editions, and compatibility with Microsoft SQL Server 2022 and SQL Server 2022 Express. They should also work with Windows 10 and Windows 11 to ensure seamless integration with the latest operating systems and database technologies so you can avoid security risks, elevated IT costs and industry compliance concerns with CMMC 2.0 and other requirements.
  2. Enhanced CNC Equipment Support: Manufacturers migrating to a new DNC or upgrading their current version can take advantage of new protocols for Fanuc Focas and MoriSeiki to facilitate the serial transfer of Cincinnati Press Brake and Punch Press programs, for example, through one central server.
  3. Machine Error Log Centralization: Up-to-date DNC solutions provide access to all command errors in a single machine-specific error log to easily track errors and troubleshoot issues. This consolidation of errors provides transactional visibility across shifts to allow for consistent support on the floor.
  4. Greater Security and Control: For manufacturers in particularly security-sensitive industries, like aerospace, medical and defense, upgrading to a modern DNC solution can enable you to securely access and manage the “EditLock” key switch on a machine tool through the DNC to lock and unlock CNC memory so you can effectively:
    • Control edits of G-code on machine tools
    • Eliminate physical edit keys
    • Report lock, unlock, and sending activity
    • Enable maintenance control with an override switch to disable

At the same time, automatic compression, encryption, and batch file operations features of advanced DNC solutions grant heightened security and control over CNC communication – which is critical when CNC controllers that use outdated Windows OS are left behind when connecting them to the corporate network. A well-designed, secure DNC enables such CNC to remain on the network by installing a small executable on the CNC and bypassing the domain requirements.

  1. An Intuitive User Experience: Modern DNC systems tend to have refreshed user interfaces with color schemes and toolbar buttons that offer an intuitive user experience. Other enhancements, such as improved FTP support, including passive mode and automatic file deletion, simplify the file transfer processes for manufacturers, while comprehensive online help resources give users the self-directed guidance they need to maximize productivity.

The integration potential of modern DNC to other manufacturing applications streamlines data to improve CNC workflow efficiency and productivity, which is something legacy DNCs typically cannot support.

These developments of the latest DNC software can be reason enough to upgrade your existing setup. Through the integration of a modern DNC system with other manufacturing applications under one solution, however, manufacturers can experience even more efficiency and productivity on the floor. Discuss the automation potential of your environment with manufacturing integrator Shop Floor Automations by contacting us today.

As manufacturers across North America spend time reflecting, strategizing, planning and budgeting for the year ahead, leaders are debating how to defend against disruption and strengthen their offense. It’s a great time to ask yourself: How did my department stay on track with its goals? In what ways was my team successful? Where did we go astray, and why? Did we “make bold investments in talent, technology, and innovation?” Forbes stresses that those manufacturers who made the right decisions post-crisis can be on the road to major rewards.

Leverage the Present for Future Success

The good news is that you don’t need to limit your action to these responses to just 2023. There are three strategic ways you can reallocate excess budget now to get a head start on your future goals and positive economic indicators, while minimizing what Deloitte refers to as “historic labor and supply challenges.”

  1. Invest in your team. What opportunities have your shop floor teams identified for efficiency gains? Are you looking to reduce the amount of NC program transfer time and effort to CNCs? Is the ongoing maintenance and changing of RS232 serial cabling consuming already-limited resources? By factoring in valuable team input into your automation strategy early and leaning on your preferred manufacturing integrator for execution, you can invigorate crews while making inroads to continuous improvement initiatives.
  2. Lock in your support and services. Workforce limitations can impede project timelines, particularly as more and more companies are turning toward automation to complement skilled labor. By securing manufacturing integration support and services prior to year end, you can rest assured that your priorities will stay the course – and faster than your competition.
  3. Map out a phased approach. If you’re looking to increase communication on the shop floor or reduce programming waste in the new year, there are tasks that can be completed prior to year end for an efficient and effective start. The piloting of a few machines or setting up of a network connection can be relatively smaller undertakings that can position your organization for success in the year to come. Robert Jackson, a manufacturing engineer at artificial lift manufacturer Flowco, decided on a phased approach to bring on Predator DNC with Shop Floor Automations. “We didn’t have a network at the time, so we chose to start with four machines for the first phase of our implementation,” explained Jackson. It took two days to set up the network wirelessly. Flowco then added 12 machines. Six months later, the company had hooked up 11 more machines to the Predator DNC network and are expecting to do the same to five more in the near future as a result of significant growth.

While next year can hold a lot of promise for companies making the right moves, Deloitte predicts that “supply chain issues including sourcing bottlenecks, global logistics backlogs, cost pressures, and cyberattacks will likely remain critical challenges in 2023.” The remaining part of 2022 can set the stage for success if planned out strategically. Contact SFA for help designing a budget to fit your strategic automation plans for 2023 today.

shop floor automations blog Document control. Gcode editing. OEE calculation. Documentation of any variety is important to us at Shop Floor Automations, and not just for our customers. We welcome you back to our Legacy Blog series, where we archive past press coverage.

We appeared in the October 2017 issue of MFG News, with a piece reviewing the top three benefits to machine monitoring appearing from us. Updates to DataXchange and an overview of Touch HMI features were also in the issue. We were also in the August 2017 issue of MFG News.

The benefits of cloud-based machine monitoring are reviewed in this piece from us, published in Modern Machine Shop this past January, plus we were mentioned in this piece on R&D Manco. Speaking of Modern Machine Shop, we were also in the February issue with an ad and an article. We have photos of our appearances in this issue on Instagram, too, so be sure to network with us and the #instamachinist movement!

Finally, in the January 2018 Production Machining Magazine issue, we were part of the annual product directory. You can find us under Software>CAD/CAM, Software>ERP & Other Shop Management, Software>Data Collection Devices, and the general directory.

For more information, we would love to start a conversation with you for your productivity needs. Call (877) 611-5825 or fill out a contact form so we can get back to you on your time. 

An infographic for Predator Software with a marker and several clip art gears and symbols relating to DNC software. Predator Software Top Reseller

We are proud to be the top reseller of Predator Software 16 years running and we are determined to continue this streak for the years to come!

“There is something happening with our business, knowing our customers are our biggest fans, referring new business to us, “ Greg Mercurio, President of Shop Floor Automations, says.  “We have close relationships with our customers, CAD/CAM partners, machine tool distributors, and other ERP/MRP that believe in our sales, service, and support staff.  They know SFA will take care of them and recommend Predator as the best solution.”

Thank you to all of our customers in making us an industry leader in manufacturing automation solutions.

Sincerely,

The SFA Team

touch hmi tablet Predator Touch HMI Released

La Mesa, CA – November 16, 2015 – Shop Floor Automations (SFA), one of the largest independent CNC Automation Suppliers for Predator Software has now released Predator Touch HMI, a new addition to our software line.

This new Windows application is a touch-first HMI, Human Machine Interface, designed to replace shop floor bar code readers, QR code readers and handheld terminals. The simplicity of this new software allows machinists and operators to control with ease and little training.

The touch-first interface simplifies real-time manual data collection and direct numerical control. Touch HMI also supports data collection for machine downtimes, scrap reasons, and more. Running on almost all Windows editions, Predator Touch HMI is easy to install and begin improving manufacturing processes and operations.

Predator Touch HMI has many features including the ability to create an unlimited number of shop floor applications. This software also includes three different button types with the touch-optimized interface. Additionally, there is no install required and it can be integrated with other Predator applications as well as other third-party apps.

Touch HMI has the ability for wired or wireless support as well as configuration to communicate with CNCs, CMMs, test stands and other devices. With an affordable site license, Predator Touch HMI is a valuable tool in the automation of machine shops.

For more information: www.shopfloorautomations.com, email: info@shopfloorautomations.com,
Tel: 619-461-4000, fax: 619-461-5918, toll free: 877-611-5825.

Check out more info on machine monitoring software

 

Predator DNC V10 Released – original article from CNC West Magazine: 

Predator DNC Software Shop Floor Automations (SFA), one of the largest independent CNC automation suppliers for Predator Software has begun implementing the latest version of Predator DNC Software v10. The new version continues to improve support for the latest CNCs, robots, PLCs and other manufacturing equipment under the latest version of Microsoft Windows. Numerous new features and improvements have been added.

The support for MicrosoftWindows 8, and Server 2012 has been completed under 32 and 64 bit operation systems while including Predator DNC Objects for Microsoft SQL for 2012 and 2014. The new version extends the support for virtual operating systems such as VMware and HyperV.

Predator DNC v10 supports the latest Fanuc Focas v3.9 device drivers. The change improved support for Fanuc controls with new options to eliminate spaces in filenames, automatically rename to an O number and force uppercase files. The new drivers enable support forWindows functional account providing specific permissions to access target folders to help secure CNCs from network.

Additional diagnostic tools have been created to allow users to support a machine specific error log without enabling multiple commands and individual logs. A single log created to trace all activity and shared to multiple users for confirmation of transfers and historical archiving. Shop Floor Automations reports the benefits of upgrading the Predator Software to the latest version allow for future compatibility between enhanced wireless and wired serial devices used for CNC communication and machine monitoring applications. The Predator Editor Lock provides software control over a CNC machines “Write Protect” key to lock and unlock the CNC’s memory.

SHOP FLOOR AUTOMATIONS – #1 In Predator Software Sales 15 Years Running

Predator Software Reseller

La Mesa, CALIF – June 9, 2015  – Shop Floor Automations (SFA), a leader in software solutions for the manufacturing shop floor,  has continued to rank #1 in Predator software sales for 15 years running. This accomplishment is credited to the SFA team due to the dedication and quality customer service.

This honor recognizes Shop Floor Automation’s achievement as Predator Software’s top revenue-producing reseller for the past 15 years.

The company is frequently required to go through certification and training at Predator Software Corporate Office in Portland, OR.  This hands-on training consists of install, troubleshooting, implementing, and best practices for the complete line of the Predator Software Suite.

SFA has also been involved with new product development and features for enhancements to existing products in beta testing and new hardware solutions.

As a service center and training center for Predator Software, SFA continues to show dedication, technical skills, new methods of implementation and connectivity to the manufacturing industry using CNC machines and other types of equipment.  Onsite training is provided at customer locations as well as SFA’s corporate office in La Mesa, about 10 miles near San Diego, California.

For more information: fill out this contact form 
Tel: 619-461-4000, fax: 619-461-5918, toll free: 877-611-5825.

Predator Software Predator Software Version Upgrades

At the end of 1st quarter of 2015, Predator Software has released v10 product suite.

Over 115,000 companies in over 40 countries rely on Predator solutions to network, monitor, revise, control, organize, verify, manage and automate their shop floor and improve productivity. Users are now able to upgrade to the latest versions to support Windows 8 and Server 20012, with enhanced support for virtual operating systems.

Predator Machine Monitoring and Data Collection included several new features: two new OEE dashboards, bar charts for good/scrap parts, 4 new components (cost centers, work center, machine type and report type), chart filters, and 125 machine time reports.

To learn more about the services Shop Floor Automations provides, which includes Predator, we invite you to check out our YouTube channel for tutorials, insights, and more. Visit our YouTube channel, and see our video’s technical guides AKA transcripts.

SFA is also located on other social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, & more!

DNC Software DNC Software for FANUC Controls

Many clients call us about DNC Software for FANUC controls and ask “can I DNC or drip-feed my FANUC control?” The typical response is “what model of FANUC control do you have on the machine that you want to use the DNC software with?” Many times, the specifics are not available, but solutions are available depending on the make and model of the FANUC control!

To drip-feed or DNC to FANUC controls, there are several requirements that need to be met. For this post, assume this is a FANUC older controller with a tape reader. The old model of Fanuc controls had a switch or toggle on the controller that allowed for the operator to enable tape mode, along with other modes like MDI and Edit. When in the tape mode, the part program is executed line by line (more happens but keeping this post short). The operator would load up the tape on the machine’s tape reader and press Cycle Start to cue the part program.

Today, tape readers are a thing of the past and these FANUC controls still need DNC Software to drip-feed. For an older FANUC control that needs to be drip-feed or DNC, we can supply a Behind the Tape Reader (BTR). The BTR and DNC Software will replace the old tape reader and “trick” the control to believe it executes the old tape. If you have executives tapes, no problem – the DNC Software for the FANUC control can be configured to accept this as well.

There are many options for DNC Software for FANUC controls, but the key is compatibility and ease of configuration to work with Windows 7 and 8. Our motto is to keep it simple and don’t try to find the cheapest solution. Sometimes, you will spend more time trying to troubleshoot the FANUC drip-feed problem when something elsewhere is already proven and reliable.

Find a vendor who has experience and can provide you with the complete solution for DNC Software for the FANUC control. We would love to hear from you to help you with your shop floor needs!

The Predator Software logo accompanied by several lines of text: "Got Predator Software? Maximize your shop floor productivity with: DNC network, machine monitoring, document control, and CNC editing. Call us today to improve your bottom line."April 2015 Southwest Manufacturing News

Shop Floor Automations is a proud reseller of Predator Software, year after year. We took out an ad in the April 2015 Southwest Manufacturing News talking about the many solutions this software can give your shop floor.

Meeting document control, CNC editing, machine monitoring, DNC, and more needs, SFA is always happy to talk to customers about the advantages of this software. Contact us by sending a message, or tweet us at @SFA_inc

Check out our ad covering our Predator services

As we roll out our new office in Houston Texas, please see what we have to offer.  See more details about our new offices.

More about Shop Floor Automations:

About Shop Floor Automations (SFA): Founded back in 1998, SFA started as a small company focused on distributing the Predator Software product line to the San Diego and Los Angeles markets of California. SFA has been ranked #1 in Predator Software Sales, Service and Support since 1999.