Who Backs Up Your Machine Tools?
Ted Fergason 07.08.2015
When was the last time you thought about backing up your machine tools? If you’re like most people, backups are the last thing on your mind when daily production deadlines need to be met. But this can be a very costly oversight, because the files stored in your machines represent 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 to 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. Due to the iterative process of optimizing files, these assets increase in value the more they are used.
The Value of Timely Backups
Newer machine tools, with more powerful CNC controls, also store huge quantities of data. These controls have begun to use the Collision Avoidance System (CAS) and Models in order to establish interference zones. 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.
Backing Up Older Machines
Backing up older machines is a different animal because they frequently use old and obsolete 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. Okuma now offers USB/Floppy Disk Adaptor devices that replace 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.
Who Backs Up Your Machine Tools?
Ask yourself this question. Who backs up your machine tools? Is it the Maintenance department, IT, the Programing department or individual operators? Don’t be surprised if each person you ask is quite certain someone else is doing this job. The bottom line is, what’s stored in the machine tool control is valuable and becoming more so every day. It needs to be protected!
Implementing Backup Procedures
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 this process
Turn Risk Into Reward
As you can see from this discussion, if you’re not performing backups, you’re at risk every single day. Don’t roll the dice with your valuable assets. Backing up your machine tool is a simple way to avoid headaches and protect your investments.
Ted Fergason is Support Center Technician, Okuma America Corporation.
Learn More: This tip was originally featured in Okuma’s Service eNewsletter, “Service Matters.” If you’d like to receive this newsletter (it’s published quarterly), please visit this page, go to the gray box on the right side of the page titled “Stay Informed”, fill it out and check “Newsletters.”