Many people consider the smartphone to be one of the most ingenious pieces of technology around. Just a few years ago, who would’ve thought you could not only talk on your phone, but check the weather, get your email, and even dial up GPS directions! And if you’re like me, you probably think there’s an “app” for everything. Now, just imagine you had an app to make your life easier and more productive in the manufacturing world. Even better, what if you could create almost any app you desired? What would you wish for? Here are a few thought-starters (but you may be able to think of many more).
10 Tricks You Can Teach Your CNC Control
- Remotely check the status of your CNC machine tool – without needing video surveillance
- Send an email notifying you of an alarm – and showing you a screen shot from the control
- Allow you to access your Windows desktop from your CNC control – with a simple touchscreen button
- Open PDFs of part drawings (from your server) – right at the CNC control location
- Create custom commands for your CNC machines that make processes easier for operators
- Set up easy-to-use interfaces for probing and gaging
- Put serial numbers on parts that are automatically connected to processing data, for easy-access traceability
- Scan a barcode with a USB reader to select the associated program and automatically transfer it to the machine’s program storage area, selected and ready to run.
- Instantly display helpful images for the operator that assist with machine setup, visual part inspection, and other functions
- Remind you to perform daily preventive maintenance checks
If all this sounds “futuristic,” rest assured, these Jetson-esque functionalities are already here. They’re made possible by the unique attributes of Okuma’s THINC®-OSP CNC control. In fact, just last week at the Lunch and Learn event at the Okuma Tech Center in Chicago, Chris Robson of distributor Morris Midwest demonstrated several apps (like those listed above) he’s created for customers using the THINC control. Also, you can check out some of the apps created by the THINC Developers Group and download them here, for free.
How Is This Possible?
There are a couple things you need in order to gain the freedom to create your own CNC control apps. As of today, these key ingredients are only offered by Okuma.
Open Architecture Platform: A Windows®-based, open architecture platform is used in all THINC-OSP CNC controls. This fully open system makes it possible to easily install PC applications such as those discussed above – right at the CNC machine location. Other controls in the industry are proprietary or “closed” systems that don’t allow for easy updates or upgrades.
APIs: The control’s API is the connection that gives you access to your data. With this access, custom configuration of apps is possible. All Okuma CNC controls include the APIs at no extra charge – they ship standard with your machine.
By utilizing the open architecture platform and gaining access to the API of the OSP control, all of this is possible and much more. The beauty of it is, an app that will run in the Windows OS will also run on your OSP control. As with your smartphone, you can write an app to do virtually anything. And with a little work to tie it to the control thru the API, your new app will now interact with your machine tool.
Yes, you can teach your CNC control new tricks. All is takes is an open architecture platform, free access to the control’s API, and your own wishful thinking.
What functionalities would you like to have for your CNC control? Give us your wish list in the comments below, or contact us or your local distributor and let’s create some apps!
Chris Davala is Applications Engineer, Okuma America Corporation.