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Predator Software Inc logo, which is a blue gear with a bear pawprint in the center.

PDM, MDC and DNC software are among the highest-sought Predator solutions supported by the manufacturing integrator

Shop Floor Automations (SFA), a manufacturing integrator specializing in digitally transformative hardware, software and support solutions, announces its exclusive achievement as the top reseller of Predator software since 2004. This significant milestone represents the integrator’s deep industry and technical expertise and unwavering commitment to customer success by serving thousands of North American manufacturers of aerospace and defense, automotive, oil and gas, heavy equipment and medical device products.

 

“Predator software is a renowned provider of manufacturing automation solutions and leader in Industry 4.0, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), digital factory and lean manufacturing,” says Greg Mercurio, president and founder of SFA. “By coupling these solutions with the excellent service, skillset and knowledge of our technical team, our customers realize tangible gains and have come to rely on us for all their automation needs.”

Engineer working with DNC Software at his desk.

Shop Floor Automations has served manufacturers as their premier Predator Software reseller for 20 years.

 

Robert Jackson, a manufacturing engineer at Flowco Production Solutions, shared his DNC experience in an SFA customer success story.

 

“I’m responsible for helping to design high-quality parts and manage all the planning for manufacturing,” reported Jackson. “Predator DNC gives me the ability to spend my day doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

 

Today SFA offers the following suite of Predator Software solutions:

 

  1. Predator DNC (Direct Numeric Control) is a robust DNC solution designed to simplify and automate the process of managing CNC programs to ensure secure, reliable and efficient program transfer to CNC machines.
  2. Predator MDC (Machine Data Collection) is an advanced manufacturing data collection system that enables real-time monitoring and analysis of machine performance, production metrics, and downtime, thus empowering manufacturers to optimize processes and maximize productivity.
  3. Predator PDM (Product Data Management) is a comprehensive solution for managing and controlling manufacturing documentation, including CAD/CAM files, setup sheets, work instructions and more, to streamline collaboration, version control, and compliance.
  4. Predator CNC Editor is a powerful editor for CNC program editing, revision control, and backplotting, equipped with features such as syntax highlighting, intelligent search, and customizable templates to simplify programming tasks and ensure code accuracy.
  5. Predator Touch HMI (Human Machine Interface) is designed to enhance operator efficiency and productivity by providing easy access to machine status, job information, and process parameters via touch-enabled interfaces.

 

For more information about SFA and Predator Software to help give your business a competitive edge, call 619-461-4000 or visit www.shopfloorautomations.com.

 

ABOUT SHOP FLOOR AUTOMATIONS

Founded in 1998, Shop Floor Automations (SFA) is a manufacturing integrator specializing in digitally transformative hardware, software and support solutions to increase the productivity, efficiency and profitability of plant facilities throughout North America.

 

Shop Floor Automations has been a trusted reseller of Predator Software for 20 years, and we encourage you to contact our team at any time to find software solutions that give your business a competitive edge. For more information about SFA and Predator Software or to add intelligent automation to your shop floor for better communication, control and improvement, contact Shop Floor Automations at www.shopfloorautomations.com.

CNC Programmer Transferring Files

PCMCIA card and card readers on aged CNC machines can, inevitably, fail. The reasons can run the gamut: excessive and prolonged exposure to heat, moisture or poor air quality, power surges, improper handling, wear and tear over time, and other factors. Add in the scarcity of viable replacements and, regardless of the cause, the malfunction of PCMCIA cards and card readers can be highly disruptive to your shop floor operations, affecting efficiency, productivity and profitability. There’s two main ways how:

  1. Delays and Downtime. Your cards store critical CNC data like essential programs, instructions and configurations to and from your machinery. If you can’t retrieve or transfer this vital data, at a minimum, you impede the ability to operate efficiently as technicians, engineers and programmers are forced to seek temporary, yet often time-consuming and less reliable, workarounds – thus increasing their workloads and postponing other tasks. You could face essential data loss as historical records and important backups are affected. More significant consequences could impose downtime costs and jeopardize meeting lead times, delivery schedules and customer satisfaction.
  2. Security, Performance and Reliability Risks. If you’re also utilizing PCMCIA cards for software updates, patches or machine maintenance, a reader failure can obstruct your ability to implement necessary improvements or fixes, potentially impacting the overall security, performance and reliability of your equipment.
CNC Programmer Transferring Files

If you can’t retrieve or transfer this vital data, at a minimum, you impede the ability to operate efficiently as programmers are forced to seek temporary, yet often time-consuming and less reliable, workarounds – thus increasing their workload and postponing other tasks.

 

 

From PCMCIA Card Failures to USB Program Transfers

A manufacturer with over 30 machines, including Makino, Matsura, Chiron, Okuma and Kitako, reported having issues loading and unloading programs with the different machine controls through their old laptop. The company brought on a rugged USB Connect unit from manufacturing integrator Shop Floor Automations (SFA) and “the problems have disappeared.” They subsequently purchased another unit for their tooling shop. But for companies changing programs more frequently, the USB Connect series may not be the best alternative option.

PCMCIA cards for CNC program transfers

DNC software, such as Predator DNC, can help manufacturers streamline the CNC program management and transfer process for consistent and efficient results, particularly when involving higher transfer rates and tens of machines. “I’m responsible for helping to design high-quality parts and manage all the planning for manufacturing,” says Flowco Manufacturing Engineer Robert Jackson. “Predator DNC gives me the ability to spend my day doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Compliancy Demands DNC Software

For highly-regulated manufacturers adhering to Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, or CMMC, DNC software often becomes a necessary option to ensure compliance and reduce cybersecurity risk associated with USB program transfers. But sorting through the best options for your shop floor begins with a consultation with a dedicated manufacturing integrator. To start exploring a modern solution to your PCMCIA card failures, contact SFA today.

DNC manufacturing integrator for Legacy Equipment

Comparing your legacy, aging equipment – your die-hard lathe or CNC milling machine – to new machinery options is easy to do. In fact, there’s a term for it: “appeal to novelty.” Equating newness to superior quality, writes educator Academy 4SC, is a logical fallacy in which something is claimed to be better simply because it is modern. “This is because we assume that people will try to improve upon what came before them. Thus, when we hear about something that’s ‘revolutionary’ or ‘cutting edge,’ it can be tempting to think that this new product is better.”

Centralizing Control

But seasoned maintenance and operations professionals know that aging equipment can perform just as well, running the same hours per day and days per year if maintained properly. And that can translate into exceptional return on investment: one paper mill in Canada had the highest maintenance costs, but was the most profitable, reported Reliable Plant.

DNC for Manual Machines

Retrofitting your legacy equipment with the help of a DNC manufacturing integrator can keep manual machines profitable, longer.

The challenge then, can lie in centralizing control of your CNC program and legacy machines, largely due to the vast differences in communication protocols and technology. They may not have built-in networking capabilities or support for modern communications, for example. They will have different data formats and serial communication protocols. And there’s specific troubleshooting and debugging processes associated with older equipment that may require log file analysis, network traffic monitoring, diagnostic tool usage that could vary from machine to machine.

There are options, of course. An ideal Distributed Numerical Control (DNC) software, like Predator DNC, can support over 80 different equipment brands and hundreds of CNC control models to send and receive large NC programs. But software alone won’t be enough to drip feed your CNC programs, control file delivery to the proper CNC machine and monitor the activity of the file transfers to the equipment on the shop floor. There’s still the need to add additional hardware, like serial-to-Ethernet converters, to enable network connectivity.

Your Guide to DNC Manufacturing Integration

That’s where the value of a manufacturing integrator comes in. More than a reseller, a manufacturing integrator has extensive experience using protocols or networking experience that can translate between the protocols used by serial ports on legacy machines. They can provide the DNC software as well as the hardware needed to retrofit or upgrade equipment with newer control systems that interface with the DNC more easily. They have the technical support assistance and large knowledge base of resources, including documentation, FAQs and articles, for instant, on-demand access.

Essentially, a full-service manufacturing integrator has the comprehensive understanding of aging equipment, systems and their respective configurations to design an effective, industrial automation and system integration solution to keep your legacy machines adhering to current processes to keep them profitable longer. To start planning your DNC networking project with an expert DNC manufacturing integrator, contact Shop Floor Automations today.

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

Predator DNC SoftwareShop 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.

DNC SoftwareDNC Software features compared

Predator DNC software and Ascendant eXtremeDNC software are two great tools for CNC networking of different CNCs, punch press, waterjets and other industrial equipment. They are each used to manage different types of programs. Ascendant eXtrmeDNC was the first DNC open architecture application for the 32-bit Windows operating system. It was first introduced in 1993, upgraded in 2010 to make it compatible with modern operating systems, and adapted to Ethernet, wired, and wireless hardware. It was developed for Windows NT 3.5 but with the modifications, it could be applied to some modern operating systems other than a Windows based OS. It works best in a Windows 7 or Server 2008 operating systems.

However, the introduction of Predator DNC software revolutionized the CNC and DNC world. This is because of the enormous multitasking functions that can be performed on it. It has more capacity to upload, download, and drip-feed. Just like the Ascendant eXtremeDNC Software, Predator DNC Software has wireless and Ethernet support. Predator DNC also uses a “object-oriented” tool library to build on functionality as the user desires. The solution also allows for a full upgrade path to other modules, such as machine monitoring, product data management, and tool rib management. While eXtremeDNC has connection ports that could serve 1023 communication networks at a time, Predator DNC Software has 4096 connection and it can be used with 4096 machines simultaneously. This gives it more networking capacity.

extremedncStill, eXtremeDNC software is a useful tool, it serves different purposes for its users. It is a smart architecture compliance server which supports transmission and effective maintenance of files. If a server failure occurs or there is a loss of server networking file transmissions are not disrupted.

EXtremeDNC does not require a lot of setup and configuration. Out of the box, the product comes with several CNC templates ready to communicate to the machine tool The software enhances functions such as email notifications, it facilitates the auto tag, and renames standardization. It also enables control and easy integration of third party software. Another great aspect to eXtremeDNC Is the client/server functionality that provides true, real-time feedback as to the status of transfer. The licensing is flexible as well to purchase only the ports needed and floats without any additional modules. Read more below.

Read more

DNC Manufacturing: Automate CNC machines with DNC software

View this brief video for more information on how we can help automate your CNC machine.

Via our Software solutions page:

Shop Floor Automations (SFA) uses the top software brands in the manufacturing industry to provide and support the best solutions for our customers. They can make your machine shop more efficient using machine monitoring, job scheduling, DNC, document control, CNC editing, and more.

SFA is committed to addressing manufacturing automation needs of customers with individualized solutions. By offering an extensive collection of software and hardware products, they scale automation solutions to customers of any size and range. SFA’s goal is to build lasting partnerships with customers by understanding their specific manufacturing & production needs.

Ascendant Technologies – Manufacturing industry software applications

  • eXtremeDNC: Drip-feeding & bi-directional communication with over 1000 CNCs.
  • XYZPRO 32 Plus: User friendly G-Code editing & backplotting.

Predator Software – Automate, network, monitor & control your machine shop

  • CNC Editor: Shop floor editing, tracking & control.
  • DNC: Shop floor connectivity, controls & communication.
  • MDC:  Data collection of shop floor productivity metrics to improve operations & decisions.
  • PDM: SFA helps coordinate & control shop documents plus revisions.
  • Tracker: Help for shop floor editing, tracking & control.

Scytec – Data collection to get the most of your machines

  • DataXchange: Tools to measure, analyze & improve your shop floor.

 

 

MTConnect – SFA utilizes this universal factory floor communication standard to enable the efficient transfer of data between devices & software applications. More info here

A desktop computer helps automate the CNC process by running machine monitoring software .

Call (877) 611-5825 for more information

 

February 2014 Manufacturing News

Read our article about DNC in this month’s Manufacturing News issue, “SFA + Predator DNC Software For Windows”

Shop Floor Automations NewsletterShop Floor Automations (SFA), a provider of software for the manufacturing shop floor, installed Predator’s version 9.0.16 through the end of 2013 while beta testing version 10.0 of Predator DNC Software and Editor.

Version 9.0 has been installed at hundreds of different sites. The main benefit is its compatibility with Windows 7 and Windows 2008/2012 server, including both 32- and 64-bit Operating systems.

“The DNC is easily migrated from previous versions running under Windows XP to the latest Predator DNC with our migration tools and hardware program,” said SFA President Greg Mercurio. “Customers have used the same solution for years from us and if it works, they do not want to change anything unless needed. Because of the end to Microsoft’s support for Windows XP, we have created a program to assist customers in keeping their machines up and running without interrupting production.”

SFA can provide end users with new hardware to integrate their existing wired system into wireless 802.11 B/G or embrace Ethernet technology on the shop floor. The use of RS232 serial ports is being phased out and networking CNC machines is becoming more prevalent. Predator Software includes functionality to communicate via FTP or Windows Share, and supports the use of the FANUC FOCAS to simplify file transfers. RS232 standard protocol is also included to support the hundreds of legacy CNC controllers with enhanced file management tools to automate the download and upload process.

Read the whole piece here! You may also call SFA and ask us about more Predator Software solutions at (877) 611-5825.

The different Predator solutions we are offer: DNC. Touch HMI, EditLock, MDC, CNC Editor, CNC Editor Express, CNC Editor Light, PDM, and Tracker. We have been the number one reseller of Predator Software since 1999 and continue to customize this solution to fit customer needs. Ask about demos and free trials!

 

Shop of the Future Article

Using Shop Floor Automation’s software, manufacturers are now able to increase the efficiency and precision of their machines. These advancements in software technology have allowed manufacturers to reduce the amount of manpower as well as errors in their manufacturing processes, truly making them the shop of the future.

Joe Morales, director of manufacturing of Implant Direct states in the article:

“We chose Shop Floor Automation’s Predator DNC software,” he says. “All our machines have plenty of built-in memory, so we don’t use the drip-feed feature of the software, but we use most of its other features. All our machines are linked to their own computers, which, in turn, are linked to a server with Predator software. That way, our guys can read their travelers, input the program they need and Predator will deliver it to their workstation.”

“One thing we really like about the Predator software is its editor,” he says. “With as many parts and programs as we have, document control is extremely important. In the past, if an operator made changes to the G-code, the change could slip through a crack. But Predator prevents that. As soon as a program is no longer needed on the floor, it goes back to the programmer via Predator Software. The programmer uses the Predator editor to compare the returned program with the original. The software instantly flags changes so the programmer can check it out.”

Another useful feature, according to Morales, is the software’s “mass” editor. “The mass editing capability lets you call up multiple programs all at once and make changes to them,” he says. “This saves a tremendous amount of time. For instance, let’s say we wanted to alter speeds, feed rates or G-code. With Predator we can make one change and the software will change the entire family of parts all at once. It’s one of the key links in our manufacturing chain that helps us run this factory on the cutting edge of technology.”

Read the full article here.

Predator DNC Software 4.0 released

Predator DNC 4.0 has been released for manufacturing shop floors. For more information on Predator DNC and other DNC options from Shop Floor Automations, read below:

Manage your CNC programs, machine parameters, & offsets. Enjoy a wide range of CNC communication options from your Predator PCs for drip-feeding, downloading, & bi-directional communication. Upload via parallel, RS232, RS422 Ethernet, & wireless Ethernet for thousands of CNC machines. With Microsoft Office  & Windows Explorer-compatible user interface (Windows 10 O/S supported), use familiar features for drag & drop, cut, copy, paste, shortcut menus, object-based menus, toolbars, tool tips, & available online help.

Improve CNC revision control while using existing ERP & MES bar-coded paperwork. Eliminate time wasted walking back & forth between your CNC & PC with a Remote Request function. Consider a 32-Bit, Multi-thread, Multi-tasking, Open-Architecture DNC Software solution that works wired & wirelessly.

Simplify operations with one network for all of your CNC machines, Robots, PLCs, & part makers, grouped by building or cell.

With Predator DNC, you can network all of your CNCs, Robots, and PLC- based machines. Predator DNC manages your CNC programs, offsets, and parameters. It supports a broad range of CNC communications for drip-feeding, downloading, and uploading via parallel, RS232, RS422 Ethernet, and wireless Ethernet.

When you need to manage your robots, CNC machines, part markers, and PLCs, you need Predator DNC. Not only will it manage your programs, but also your parameters and offsets. It supports everything you could possibly need when it comes to CNC communications, whether you’re uploading, downloading or drip-feeding via wireless, Ethernet, RS232, RS422, or parallel. Call SFA for more info at (877) 611-5825!