Machine Tool Backups – Like Money in the Bank!
For most of us, backing up our machine tools is something we rarely think about, if we think about it at all. You probably believe that your CNC machine’s programs are safe and everything’s just fine. This can be a mistake, as the files stored in your machines are a work product, and often a considerable investment in time and money. They have been generated by you, your operator, or programing staff, and have been edited, adjusted and corrected over time. These small adjustments provide critical improvements to part quality and cycle time. Subroutines and Library files have sometimes been created, and are used by operators and programmers to reduce time and effort. These creations are the product of work by you and your company.
Older machines are using memory systems that, while up-to-date in their day, are now approaching the end of their service life. Many older systems also use batteries. Not just to retain time and date, but to actually hold part programs, tool data, parameters and ATC locations. Newer machines, with more powerful CNC controls, store huge quantities of data. These controls have begun to use the Collision Avoidance System (CAS) and Models in order to establish interference zones. Models are entered into tool data and are created or installed by you. These can also be significant investments in time and money. Also, information on alarm patterns, tool histories and efficiencies are being automatically collected by your new machine tool. Parameters that compensate for thermal effects and changes of mass have come into effect. All this data makes timely backups even more critical.
Ask yourself this question. Who backs up your CNC machines? Is it the Maintenance department, IT, the Programing department or individual operators? Don’t be surprised if each person you ask is certain someone else is doing that task. The bottom line is, what’s stored in the machine tool control is valuable and becoming more so every day. Perhaps it’s more valuable than you realize. It needs to be protected!
Old Media? No Problem
One of the main concerns when backing up older machines is that they frequently use old and obsolete media. Media such as 3½ inch floppy disks, PCMCIA flash cards or even 8-inch floppy discs. This media is sometimes scarce and difficult to find. Harsh shop environments can sometimes damage disk drives, or cause them to fail completely.
Fortunately, these issues have been addressed by Okuma. Okuma now offers USB/Floppy Disk Adaptor devices that replace the legacy floppy drive units. These devices allow communications with older machine tools to be upgraded to more modern standards. Data for the Okuma machine tools that previously resided on floppy disk media can now be transferred to USB devices and easily managed.
Okuma has made considerable effort to make backup procedures as simple as possible. The procedures are usually quick and easy to use, but must be followed to the letter. Here are some helpful tips to implement them:
- Backup procedures, utilities and USB/Floppy Disk Adaptors are available from your local Okuma distributor
- If you don’t have the time, the personnel, or you don’t feel comfortable backing up your machine, schedule an appointment with your distributor
- If your Okuma machine tools are on a Preventive Maintenance (PM) cycle, consider including the backup as part of the process
Backing up your machine tool is like depositing money in the bank!