I am currently on a support contract. What are the hours that I can call for support?

I am currently on a support contract. What are the hours that I can call for support?

If you are on a support contract, you can call us from Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

During After Hours, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, via our Web Call Back Form.

Read some reviews about our customer service below:

Our DNC remote system failed to communicate with our server. I heard about SFA through a DELCAM/FEATURECAM rep and Joshua Ray, along with a few other SFA technicians over the phone, helped resolve our issues. We ended up getting DNC boxes that connect the units that were installed on our CNC machines to call up the programs.

The DNC system helps the machine operators and machinists to call the programs in and out of our main server, and we love that we can apply the hardware over the remote system, which was failing to work due to the weak signals from our routers on site. I recommend SFA to any other shops because they are fast, reliable and user-friendly. -Qui, Sumitomo Drive Technologies

SFA updated our DNC system, so we could put it on Windows 7. Made sure everything was working. Made sure all the machines made the transition, in doing what they’re supposed to do. Get them to both load and punch out programs. Email notifications are working – everything seems to be working good! It seemed like it went pretty flawless. -Roger & Kevin, CNC Programmers at Honeywell Aerospace

Can I get on a support contract if I am not using a current version of your software?

Can I get on a support contract if I am not using a current version of your software?

Yes, you have the option of doing a ‘support only’ support contract if you are currently one version behind the most current version of the software.

However, please note that choosing a ‘support and upgrades’ contract will allow you to have the newest version of your software installed if you are behind on the software version, or if a new version is released.

Here are some reviews of what we do for customers, from real customer testimonials, here at Shop Floor Automations:

I would like to commend your staff for being so on top of their customer service. -Alex, RBC Bearings

Shop Floor Automations updated my computers and loaded Predator DNC plus Predator CNC Editor. They configured the drivers and got everything going for me. Great job! -Joey, J&S Inc.

Thanks for your prompt reply. It is appreciated. Please tell your people that it is our considered opinion that your product is head and shoulders above anything else on the market. Keep up the marvelous work. – Al, PCC Aerostructures Prescott

How can I keep track of my CNC machines and collect data from them?

How can I keep track of my CNC machines and collect data from them?

If you want to collect CNC machine data, there are various methods to collect real-time status information from a CNC.

We have solutions that make it possible to monitor all types of machines and equipment from manual machines, boilers, cell controllers, assembly lines, and of course the obvious, CNC machines. all while providing one interface to see the real-time status and run historical reports.

Collection methods include network-based protocols, MTConnect, wiring PLC’s to electrical points, bar code scanners, RFID’s, manual user input, and more. We also recommend machine monitoring through Predator MDC and Scytec DataXchange.

More info on the benefits of machine monitoring from one of our customers:

I am very happy with the software and it is having a positive impact on our productivity. Shop Floor Automations had been somebody that we worked with really before we acquired it 13 years ago. We had Predator and some of the software you supplied. Recently, we added the Scytec DataXchange stuff a few years ago, and you guys are just good problem solvers for us!

There was minimal start-up cost and it requires little software management on the user end. Significant increases in machine utilization, better information flow between engineering guys and programming guys, quality guys, shop floor guys, and us as owners! Knowing what’s happening on the shop floor. I would recommend you, and I have – we’re big proponents of the software and you have been a really good resource for us. -Jerry Halley, Tech Manufacturing LLC

How do I get 24 hour support for my machine shop?

How do I get 24 hour support for my machine shop?

Shop Floor Automations provides 24 hour support for all of the products we sell for customers who are on our maintenance service contracts. If you request support after normal business hours (which are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday PST), someone from our team will assess the urgency of the request. If appropriate, you will be contacted within 2 hours. Otherwise, our Support Staff will contact you the following business day.

Here is more info about our service from some of our customers:

The level of professionalism and support we receive is above and beyond any other company we have dealt with. Customer service is a high priority for my company, and your company delivers the level of support we require. – Kyle, Manes Machine & Engineering Co

For years, our company had problems with communication between the computer and the CNC mills. For the first time in a long time, things are operating smoothly. One call to Shop Floor Automations and they had the software plus hardware we needed to fix the problem. -Todd, Future Tool Inc.

Just wanted to give you some quick feedback and thank you for the service. Josh is a fantastic tech – I will be happy to have him back for follow-up of the project in October. Very knowledgeable and helpful. I am very pleased with where our money went. – Dominic, Kingsford Broach

How can I troubleshoot my CNC that is not communicating?

How do I verify my I’m having a CNC communication error?

There are several steps to verify if a CNC is communicating, or if it is a CNC that is not communicating. You will first want to verify the RS232 cable is connected to each device securely. There maybe two ports on the controller or appear to be a port on the front of the unit, however, this may not be connected inside the machine. CNC communication troubleshooting can be time-consuming and frustrating, so we recommend following these hints below:

You will first want to verify the RS232 cable is connected to each device securely. There maybe two ports on the controller or appear to be a port on the front of the unit, however, this may not be connected inside the machine. CNC communication troubleshooting can be time-consuming and frustrating, so we recommend following these hints below:

Hint 1:
Verify the information is coming out of the communication port by placing an RS232 mini tester directly on the back of the computer, sending a file from the CNC control, and viewing the status of the tester. This device should show RD or RX activity when the control is sending to the computer. If you do not have this tester, you can contact SFA and purchase this valuable tool for $20, as it will save time and identify if the CNC controller or PC is failing.

Hint 2:
Make sure you are on the correct port on the back of the computer. Remove any switchboxes, adapters, misc. cables and try connecting directly to the computer serial RS232 port. If there is only one port, verify the COM port number in the device manager and match your software to this port. There maybe be various RS232 communications on your PC and you’re unaware of this port. If there are various ports, try moving the cable to the other ports.

Hint 3:
Verify the voltages on the cable are within the RS232 limits. If you are running an Ethernet cable as a serial cable, you may run into serious reliability issues. Ethernet cable (CAT5/6) cable is designed for networking computers and should not be substituted for RS232 cable to interface to a CNC control. You want to adhere to the machine tool builder’s specifications and not damage the port due to improper grounding or shielding. SFA does not sell or recommend Ethernet cable as RS232 as this normally will void warranties and damage equipment.

Note: SFA’s RS232 cable uses 8 wires, 3 levels of shielding, and has been proven to handle cable runs over 200+ feet. If you need a lengthier connection, consult our Account Executives for wireless or Ethernet solutions.

What if I cannot find, or have lost, my CD for an older version of my software?

Have a misplaced or lost software CD?

SFA offers media replacement and 90 days of technical support for any software you have purchased from us.

You can also download recent versions of this software directly from our website. For pricing and details to replace a lost software CD, please email us or call us at (877) 611-5825.

Check out other times we have saved customers from a hassle:

I purchased a used Okuma lathe and proceeded to try to get it to communicate with my DNC software to no avail. After 2 years, 15 cables, 12 manuals, 100s of pages of parameter settings, and advice from every expert I could find, I stumbled across Shop Floor Automations. Between their expert advice, cabling, and Predator Software, I was up and running in 20 minutes. -Charles, Napier’s Auto Body

I have been extremely satisfied with the Predator Software, with SFA and their technical support. You have been very helpful and always available when questions arise. This is not the case with some technical support teams and it is very frustrating when it takes 3 or 4 days to get a response. I rate your technical support and the Predator Software as excellent. -Jim, Mackin & Company

How do I get rid of buffer overflow errors on my CNC machine?

How do I get rid of buffer overflow errors on my CNC machine?

For CNC buffer overflow errors, the process of disabling your ‘FIFO-buffer’ when using the PC’s standard COM ports depends on the version of Windows you are using.

In Windows NT 4:

  • Go to the Control Panel. If ‘Ports’ is available, double-click on it.
  • Choose the port in question
  • Press ‘Settings,’
  • Press ‘Advanced,’
  • Uncheck ‘Fifo enable.’

In Windows 95-98 (all versions):

  • Go to the Control Panel and open ‘System’
  • Find the port under ‘Serial ports’
  • Press ‘Properties’
  • Press ‘Advanced’
  • Uncheck ‘Fifo enable’
  • Reboot your PC after these changes

In Windows 7, 8, and 8.1:

  • Go to the Control Panel
  • Open the Device Manager
  • Press the ‘+’ button next to ‘Ports (COM & LPT)’
  • Right-click on the COM port you wish to change
  • Choose ‘Properties’
  • Click on the tab at the top that says ‘Port Settings’
  • Press the ‘Advanced Settings’ button
  • This will prompt you with a window with FIFO settings
  • Uncheck the box at the top and FIFO will be disabled on your device
  • Reboot your PC after these changes

If this does not help, your cable might be too long, or it may be placed next to a power cable, creating a lot of noise.

For the MOXA NPort series, such as 2150A and 5110, you will need to alter the FIFO setting using the proprietary software used to handle the drivers for your product. If you have a Moxa device then you will need to first run NPort Windows driver manager.

Once it starts, select the desired port, click ‘Setting,’ choose the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab, then set ‘FIFO’ to disabled.

Why Shop Floor Automations (SFA) works for you:

Founded back in 1998, we started as a small company focused on distributing the Predator Software product line to the San Diego and Los Angeles markets of California.  Within 6 months, we expanded to cover the entire West Coast as a reseller with the goal to be the #1 reseller in a year.

The goal was met in 1999 when SFA was awarded the status of largest distributor of Predator Software in North America. We have been ranked #1 in Predator Software Sales, Service and Support for many years running.

SFA has become the industry leader in Shop Floor Communications and Machine Monitoring Solutions – totally redefining what “Shop Floor Automation” solutions should be.  With thousands of customers from across the United States, Mexico, Canada, Europe, and Asia, we were called upon by other vendors to provide other solutions that could be met by our knowledge, support and sales experience of the manufacturing industry.  In 2010, SFA aligned itself with these vendors to close the loop with maintenance management software, job management and scheduling software, hardware manufacturers, and machine tool companies.

For more information, contact us via Email or call us directly, toll free: 877-611-5825.

What is ASCII?

What is ASCII?

ASCII is the most common format for text files in computers and on the Internet.

In an ASCII file, each alphabetic, numeric, or special character is represented with a 7-bit binary number (a string of seven 0s or 1s). 128 possible characters are defined. UNIX and DOS-based operating systems (except for Windows NT) use ASCII for text files.

Newer versions of Windows use a newer code, Unicode. IBM’s System 390 servers use a proprietary 8-bit code called EBCDIC. Conversion programs allow different operating systems to change a file from one code to another.

ASCII was developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). A chart of ASCII characters and their decimal or hexadecimal equivalent can be found at asciitable.com (courtesy of asciitable.com)

:'######:::::'###::::'##:::::::'##:::::::::::'######::'########::::'###::::
'##... ##:::'## ##::: ##::::::: ##::::::::::'##... ##: ##.....::::'## ##:::
 ##:::..:::'##:. ##:: ##::::::: ##:::::::::: ##:::..:: ##::::::::'##:. ##::
 ##:::::::'##:::. ##: ##::::::: ##::::::::::. ######:: ######:::'##:::. ##:
 ##::::::: #########: ##::::::: ##:::::::::::..... ##: ##...:::: #########:
 ##::: ##: ##.... ##: ##::::::: ##::::::::::'##::: ##: ##::::::: ##.... ##:
. ######:: ##:::: ##: ########: ########::::. ######:: ##::::::: ##:::: ##:
:......:::..:::::..::........::........::::::......:::..::::::::..:::::..::
'########::'#######::'########:::::'###::::'##:::'##:
... ##..::'##.... ##: ##.... ##:::'## ##:::. ##:'##::
::: ##:::: ##:::: ##: ##:::: ##::'##:. ##:::. ####:::
::: ##:::: ##:::: ##: ##:::: ##:'##:::. ##:::. ##::::
::: ##:::: ##:::: ##: ##:::: ##: #########:::: ##::::
::: ##:::: ##:::: ##: ##:::: ##: ##.... ##:::: ##::::
::: ##::::. #######:: ########:: ##:::: ##:::: ##::::
:::..::::::.......:::........:::..:::::..:::::..:::::

What is Mazatrol CMT?

What is Mazatrol CMT?

Mazatrol is a proprietary conversational programming language that is standard on all Mazak mills and lathes. It is primarily used for 2 & 2 1/2 axis work and is especially popular for turning applications.

It has a different format than G-code programming and is supported by Predator DNC by using the Mazatrol link in your commands.

We have a hardware device that specifically can send and receive these programs called the USB Connect – Mazak Model.

The Pendant mount USB Connect – Mazak model controller is for all CNC’s, including Mazatrol CMT.

The USB Connect device acts as an interface between commercially available USB flash memory and any CNC control with an available RS232 port. Machine tool files can be sent from CNC memory to the USB key, USB key to CNC memory or drip-fed (DNC) from the USB key.

Flexible DNC firmware is built into the USB Connect unit allowing connection to just about any machine tool CNC control. The pendant mount USB controller kit contains all the necessary hardware to integrate a universal display onto a CNC machine tool pendant.

  • Supports Older & Newer Mazatrol Conversion Protocols
  • Supports TAPE I/O (G-code)
  • Supports CMT I/O (Mazatrol Conversion) file transfers
  • Connects via RS232 Serial Port with USB directory listing
  • TAPE I/O Transfers DNC (drip-feed) with single button repeat operation

If you have a Mazak machine and want it to communicate in a smoother manner, we recommend you call SFA today at (877) 611-5825.

 

How do you do a remote request from Predator DNC?

How do you do a remote request from Predator DNC?

Remote request through Predator DNC: In many cases, a CNC machine may be located a good distance away from the computer, or perhaps a number of machines are connected to a central computer. In either case, the last thing you want is machine operators running or shouting across the shop, or crowding around the computer.

If your CNC machines are based on a modern operating system, then they might be connected to your company’s Ethernet network and thus able to browse through a remote server’s files. In most cases though, the NC control just doesn’t have any networking capability and are unable to do anything like that.

One thing most CNC’s can do, however, is to send and receive files via RS232. They can’t request files from computers, but they can send files to computers. So, what we can do is create a small program on the CNC, write our request into that file, and sent that file to the computer. As long as the computer, in this example running the software Predator DNC, is expecting such a file, it would see the incoming data, read the request, and complete whatever action was contained within. In this example, Predator DNC has been programmed to expect such simple file requests from pretty much any CNC as long as the CNC is capable of punching out a CNC program through the serial port.

Before you can use the server mode within Predator DNC, you need to set it up and enable it. We’ll explain that in a moment. First, we’ll give an example of what you can do with it. In our examples, we’ll describe usage with a machine like a FANUC because there are lots of other makes and models of CNC which adhere to the same ISO data standards. We can also show you a couple of alternatives, so you can adjust this method to suit other machines.

In the CNC control, we first create a small program using a program number that isn’t used by the machine. We call this program the Remote Request, because we use it to request a program from the PC remotely. Let’s use program number 7 as our Remote program (O7777). You can, of course, use any program number you want. In our example we want the PC to send program number 1234 into the machine. On a FANUC we’d create a small Remote program like this:-

%

O7777

(LOAD 1234)

M30

%

That’s it: just those five lines. When you’re ready, send (“Punch”) the Remote Request to the computer and quickly switch the CNC into “Input” / ”Read” mode. When Predator DNC receives the request it opens the file, sees the command (LOAD) and the following text (1234) and knows that the CNC is waiting for program 1234. Predator DNC pulls the file from the machine’s default folder, loads it up, and sends it to the CNC.

Keep the Remote program stored on your CNC, so you can use it again. Next time you use it, just edit the text between the parentheses to request any other program. For more remote request info, check out this video from our YouTube channel