Customer "Ecstatic" Over This Machine Tool App

Casey Croussore

When the lead engineer for a project you’re working on uses the word “ecstatic” to describe how he feels about the results (actually, he used this word three times), you know you’ve hit the bullseye. Well, that’s exactly what happened when we created a custom machine tool app for an Okuma user in need. When we learned that this app saves their company at least forty-five minutes per day for each of the four Okuma machine tools making these parts, we understood their enthusiasm! Here’s a quick story about how a simple application is having a big impact on productivity at this customer’s shop.

The Data Dilemma

The customer makes parts for the military that involve long processes, and all of these processes generate a lot of probing data. The parts also have many features, and it’s required that they probe all of them on the machine before they’re taken off and sent to the CMM to be probed again. For all of the probing that occurs, they need to record the values for each measurement.

The process they had in place to achieve this was cumbersome. They sent their measurement data to a printer connected via RS232, which they didn’t want to continue doing because they had Okuma’s newer OSP-P controls on these machines. With more advanced technology in place, they wanted to take advantage of the fact that the control is a PC and has a USB port. However, in our software there’s no native function that allows connectivity to a printer. The customer decided they wanted to create an app to establish this connection.

A Simple Solution

There was a time when they were actually hand writing the measurement data for all the probing data they collected. The probing values were then stored to our common variables and at the end of the process, the operator would hand write a report. This was a time-consuming and tedious process that had many opportunities for error.

I wrote an application that bridges the gap between the common variable table and the USB port. When they’re done with the part, and they’ve recorded all the probing data to common variables throughout the process, they set two common variables to a specific value as a trigger. We went with two instead of one so it’s less likely that they’ll generate a report erroneously. It’s a more definite action if you’re setting two variables as a trigger instead of one.

When they set the trigger, two things happen. The data from those variables is populated into a template document that they control. Because the template document is in Word, they can make it look however they want. Then the actual values for each part are placed into the template and sent out to the USB printer. All this data is also saved on their network, which means they’ve now created both a printed copy that travels around with the part until it’s shipped, and an electronic copy that provides a traceability record.

Fulfilling Military Requirements

Folks who make parts for the military will find it interesting that we created this app in such a way that we did NOT change their manufacturing process. This is because we used the same template document, and all the names of the features were kept the same. Therefore, no recertification was required. We did give the customer the ability to manipulate and change the document down the road, should they have the need. It’s not hard-coded and it has placeholders for where the probing values go, which can easily be replaced with actual numbers from the common variable table.

Use Apps to Make Your Processes Easier

Overall, the process of creating this app was relatively easy. In terms of coding it only took about 3-4 days. We did have one unexpected challenge though, when the new printers they ordered arrived with no USB cables included. We had to go buy some, and that turned out to be the hardest part of the install! Which tells you, this is pretty simple stuff. If you think there might be a way we can make your processes easier or more productive using apps, contact your distributor and let’s talk about how to make it happen.

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About Casey Croussore
Casey Croussore is a Software Engineer for Okuma America Corporation, a world-leading builder of CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machine tools founded in 1898 in Nagoya, Japan. Okuma is the industry’s only single-source provider, with the CNC machine, drive, motors, encoders, and spindle all manufactured by Okuma. The company also designs their own CNC controls to integrate seamlessly with each machine tool’s functionality.

Company: Okuma America Corporation

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