Shop Matters - Ep. 7 High Pressure Coolant & Advanced Connectivity


Shop Matters is a podcast designed to talk about the world of machining and manufacturing with your host, Wade Anderson. Sponsored by Okuma America.

In this week's episode, Wade speaks with Ron Parker and Randy Louis from LNS, the one-stop shop for machine tool peripherals, about high pressure coolant and advanced machine connectivity.

TRANSCRIPTION

Shop Matters Podcast: Episode 7 - High Pressure Coolant & Advanced Connectivity

Wade Anderson:

Hello, manufacturing world. I'm Wade Anderson with Shop Matters, sponsored by Okuma America. This podcast is created to discuss all things machining and manufacturing. Some great guests with us have joined by LNS. We've got Ron Parker.

Ron Parker:

Hi Wade, glad to be here.

Wade Anderson:

And, we've got Randy Louis.

Randy Louis:

Wade, thanks for having us here.

Wade Anderson:

So, if we're going to talk about everything you need to know about high pressure coolant and advanced connectivity for machine tools and peripheral equipment. Randy, tell us a little bit about what you do with LNS.

Randy Louis:

Well, I've been with LNS for almost 33 years now, you know, so when I started out with the company...

Wade Anderson:

33 years?

Randy Louis:

33 years.

Wade Anderson:

So eventually they are going to actually offer you a full-time position?

Randy Louis:

They might. I'm still like in the probationary period, you know, somewhere. I'm going to hit that full-time status hopefully. But no, I started out many years ago in our service group, spent about 10 years there and then slowly moved up through the ranks and now I mainly handle all the connectivity development, using the THINC Platform. Also, I take care of any connectivity between machines, whether it be some type of advanced or hard wiring type connectivity applications. They ask me to sweep the floor, I'm on board with it.

Wade Anderson:

There you go.

Randy Louis:

I'll go out and sweep the floor.

Wade Anderson:

Now you're getting into my world. All right, Ron tell us a little bit about you.

Ron Parker:

Well, I am presently with LNS, I'm the national product manager for high pressure coolant systems. So, I get to work with the sales guys and all of our customers and teach them and help them with improving their processes by using high pressure coolant.

Wade Anderson:

All right. So, I'm familiar with LNS. I've worked with LNS for a long time. I used to work with Turbo Chip Conveyors back before it was LNS Turbo and then obviously we do a lot with LNS on bar feeders and steady rest. But IMTS was pretty exciting for you guys. You guys have something new that came about with the LNS product line?

Ron Parker:

Yeah, and IMTS was the timeframe where LNS purchased ChipBLASTER. So, as a former ChipBLASTER employee of 18 years, I now get to wear an LNS shirt and have joined that team and bring all of the knowledge that ChipBLASTER has to the table to help the one stop shop that LNS provides to the customers.

Wade Anderson:

All right, so let's dive right into high pressure coolant. Tell us a little bit about high pressure coolant. When we say that term, we use that a lot internally. We'll talk about high pressure coolant and sometimes we mean high pressure is 200 PSI. Sometimes we mean 300 PSI, sometimes we mean more. So, in your world, if I say the statement "LNS is working with ChipBLASTER, they're doing high pressure coolant." What does that mean for a customer?

Ron Parker:

Well, high pressure coolant in our world means a 1000 PSI or 70 bar. That's the amount of pressure that it requires to break through this vapor barrier that forms when you cut metal.

Wade Anderson:

All right, so tell me a little bit more about that. So, the vapor barrier that forms when you cut metal, what does 1000 PSI do from that aspect?

Ron Parker:

Well, basically when you're cutting metal, you're getting temperatures that are extremely hot.

Ron Parker:

Water boils at 212 degrees, as we know. So, once your metal or your cutting tools are over that temperature, the water boils. So, when you flood the part, the water boils away and forms a vapor barrier. So, the coolant can't actually penetrate to the tip of the tool. 1000 PSI is the amount of force that it actually takes through a nozzle of the coolant stream to actually hit the tip of the insert. And at that point it takes the heat out of the process and you can now make better chips and your tools last longer. And the proof is in the fact that the chips don't turn blue anymore.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. So does that change from material to material?

Ron Parker:

The 1000 PSI is good for any material that's out there. It actually makes many materials cut similar to one another.

Ron Parker:

So, aluminum will not gum up on your cutter anymore. It'll cut like a steel. And even materials like Inconel and titanium benefit from 1000 PSI.

Wade Anderson:

So, one of these days somebody's going to throw a piece of paper at me or something, every time I bring this up. But I come from a grinder background. So, a lot of my references, when I think back to making chips, making parts, my brain automatically goes into kind of grinder mode. So, in grinders we had a process that we used specifically to try to match the surface footage of the wheel. But we also needed an amount of volume, so we can match the surface footage of the wheel. But if we weren't getting enough volume, we would still have problems with our process. How important is that? What do you see in when you're doing chip cutting, machining, turning? How much of it is pressure related? How much of it is volume related?

Ron Parker:

That's actually a very good question. Pressure without volume, actually is meaningless. So, you can have 1000 PSI, but if it's only 2 gallons a minute, there's not enough force at the cutting edge. So, we have a rule of thumb to make it really simple for guys like me. So, we use a rule of thumb of 10 gallons of coolant at 1000 PSI per inch of tool diameter. So, if you're drilling a hole, for example, with a one-inch drill, you need 10 gallons of coolant. If you have a half inch drill, you need five gallons of coolant. It simply works that way.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. What are some of the benefits that a customer would expect to receive from using high pressure coolant?

Ron Parker:

The benefits are a better productivity. They're, going to get a better chip formation because the high-pressure coolant pulling the heat out of the process actually is going to cause the chip to curl because a cold chip will actually curl and break. Whereas a hot chip is more stringy and tends to cause a bird’s nest.

Ron Parker:

So smaller chip formation and then a longer tool life because the chips aren't sitting there beating up the insert and the tools.

Wade Anderson:

So, we've been talking a lot about automation here in the past couple of podcasts. I look at what you just said, that instantly connected my mind about automation because I can't automate a process, if I've got uncontrolled chips. So, if I've got a process where I'm cutting parts and every 15th part I wind up with a bird nest of chips, I can't really automate that process because I don't have a controlled set of parameters at that point. So, you're saying high pressure coolant would help me from that aspect, because I'm going to get better chip control?

Ron Parker:

Correct. That's actually one of the huge benefits that we get calls from customers all the time that want to automate their process.

Ron Parker:

You, you can't have a robot changing parts. If there's chips wrapped around it. It's not going to be able to grab the part. So, by managing the chips more effectively, we can enable the customer then to have a robot for example, and to automate and be able to pull that part out of the machine without chips being in the way.

Wade Anderson:

So, on my show room for currently in Charlotte, at our Partners in THINC facility, I've got an LB 3000 and we've got a ChipBLASTER unit tied to it. That unit's a variable pressure unit. Why is that important? Tell me a little bit about that and where would we use that?

Ron Parker:

A variable pressure is good from a standpoint of many customers use live driven tools and some live tools are not capable of 1000 PSI, so they may want to turn the pressure down and our unit will do that automatically through the control.

Ron Parker:

So, if they need 300 PSI for a particular tool, they just change the parameter and the unit automatically will slow down and still maintain full volume. But at that pressure. In addition, if a customer was machining a part that had a very thin wall, that perhaps 1000 PSI could deform that part, they could turn the pressure down on some of the final passes and actually make a better tolerance part.

Wade Anderson:

So, how does the unit change the pressures? Is that done? Is that a servo driven pump? What, does that look like?

Ron Parker:

It all works basically with a transducer is mounted on the external coolant line, which monitors the pressure and then that feeds to a PLC or a little computer that tells a drive to speed up or slow down the motor. So basically, and it'll change automatically.

Ron Parker:

So, if you change tools, it'll still maintain the same pressure for a larger tool or a smaller tool. And it, it sees the flow and the pressure and speeds up and slows down, just like the gas pedal on your car.

Wade Anderson:

All right. So Randy, I'm going to shift the conversation over to you now. We're talking about communication. We're talking variable pressures; we're talking communicating from an LNS ChipBLASTER unit to the OSP control.

Randy Louis:

Right?

Wade Anderson:

What are the advantages that you see working with what you're doing on the LNS side versus what we do on the Okuma side?

Randy Louis:

So, just kind of touch a little bit on what Ron said there at the end about the variable pressure. So, on a standard unit, you know that we have currently to do variable pressure with a system, most systems out there will have a set point and maybe you have multiple set points which you would actually have to set on the high-pressure system itself. Now what we've done, leveraging the THINC API, is that we're actually able to do that now programmatically. So, by simply using a common variable on the machine tool, any pressure that we write or a value that we write to that common variable automatically gets sent to the high-pressure system, thus automatically adjusting to that pressure. So, if we wanted to run 100 PSI, you'd simply in your program, maybe after a tool change, write the value of 100 to a specific common variable, that's what it would run at.

Randy Louis:

If you switched tools and you needed a higher pressure, maybe 1000 PSI, you can now write that value into that same variable and that's what it would automatically run at. So, it's a nice feature because your pressures are saved in your cutting programs. They're not saved on the unit, which means there could be manual intervention required. So now we, we've automated that process.

Randy Louis:

So, from switching from part to part, there's no need to interact with the high-pressure system itself. You're cutting program will take care of that automatically.

Wade Anderson:

Excellent. Now you just said something. I just jotted a quick note down at Okuma. We use a lot of acronyms and we'll throw those terms, terminology out there that sometimes we understand internally. We don't always understand outside. You said the word API. Now, obviously I know what an API is from my years in this line of work, but when we first started talking about that 2004, 2005 timeframe, API, the question of what in the world is an API. Yeah, so explain that. If there’s people out there like me, I'm a chip cutter, my strong suit is not, talking connectivity. What is API, what does that mean?

Randy Louis:

Right, so API, stands for advanced programming interface.

Randy Louis:

It's just a program that we have written that installs on the Okuma control. Its definition by name is an API, so it's no different from any other program. If you had installed Microsoft Office on your computer, basically the same thing.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. So, it's what's kind of communicating back and forth from one device to the other device?

Randy Louis:

Exactly. Right. It manages the communication between our product and the OSP side.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. I always like to think of it in terms of conduit. You know, I'll walk into a room, I'll flip the light switch on, I got the conduit that's running from that switch. It's carrying the cable up to that light and the API is kind of what's doing that conduit from one device to the other device.

Randy Louis:

Exactly.

Wade Anderson:

Excellent. So, tell us a little bit more about connectivity. Why is it important for somebody to have connected devices and what are you seeing that's changing in our market, in the world that we're living in today?

Randy Louis:

Yeah. So, the world, it's changing fast, right? You know, some of the technology that we're using, it's really not so new. It's just that it's newer for the machine tool market and it's taken a little bit of time to take hold.

Wade Anderson:

IOT versus IIOT.

Randy Louis:

Yeah. You know, there's a lot of acronyms out there. They all have a specific field that they focus on, but also are can be used interchangeably for the most part. So IOT, IIOT, Industry 4.0. From our sense, it's the same.

Wade Anderson:

So, generally speaking, what is IIOT and Industry 4.0. What does that mean? If I'm a customer, I've got a machine shop, I've got 10 machines and I want to understand more about this and how to get more efficient. What is Industry 4.0/IIOT? What does that mean to them?

Randy Louis:

So, IIOT and Industry 4.0 are essentially the exact same thing.

Randy Louis:

Industry 4.0 is a European phrase for it. They got it started with the German government really pushing that. IIOT is more of an American phrase. It's for industrial internet of things. So, Industry 4.0, IIOT, exact same things based on industrial needs. IOT is more of a consumer base. Your doorbell, WiFi, doorbell, cell phones, talking to each other, things like that.

Wade Anderson:

Okay, so right now we've got the machine I mentioned before at Partners in THINC, I almost call that the LNS machine. So, we've got an LB3000, we've got an LNS barfeeder on one end, we've got an LNS chip conveyor on the other end, we've got a ChipBLASTER unit, we've got a mist collection unit. All that is connected, right?

Randy Louis:

Yes.

Wade Anderson:

Why does that matter to me? Why do I care?

Randy Louis:

So what we've done, and this is the first time that this has been done, I think to have that many peripheral devices all communicating not only with one another, but communicating with the machine tool also.

Randy Louis:

Take the barfeeder for example, in days past, you know you're running material out of there and eventually you consume that bar stock that you're running. In days past, we could say that, yes, you have material to run or you don't have, but the machine tool never knew exactly how much it just knew it didn't have enough material. With the THINC platform, what we're able to do now is we can actually send you the value. So, instead of saying yes or no, we can tell you, you have 35 inches of material left. Now, the machine can start making some very intelligent decisions about how it wants to process that part, or if you've got multiple parts scheduled, how it's going to run those parts most efficiently.

Wade Anderson:

All right, so I'm a big fan of commonality. So, when I'm making parts, I'm trying to look at how do I reduce my change over? How do I get more productive with the setup that I've currently got?

Wade Anderson:

Typically, speaking, and I'm saying a broad-brush stroke, but I can make chips faster than I can be taking work holding off a machine and tooling and changing things over. So, I like to look at bar stock. I tend to want to go as big a diameter as I can, to get the most opportunities to make multiple types of parts out of that. So, what you're saying, based on the communication and the connectivity going from your system to the OSP system, as a programmer, I could write a scheduled program. That is basically, I'm just picturing, “if then go to” -type statement, from a parametric standpoint to say if I've got X amount of bar stock, call up this program, make these parts because I've got a longer blank. But then when I get down to a smaller length of bar stock, now my “if then go to” could be saying, okay if this bar is short, call up this program because you've got enough material to make five of these smaller parts to maximize what material I've got in. Am I on the right track?

Randy Louis:

It is, yeah. So, the whole point of it is that you're going to be able to write a schedule data file on your machine. And for instance, you can say, today I need 5 of these. Maybe I need 100 of these and 20 of these parts. So, you'll set up those parts in your scheduled data file and there's two pieces of criteria that we need to look at before we determine which part we're going to run. First, we have to determine do we have a quantity of that part left to run. If we don't, it's going to jump over that part. It's going to say I'm finished with it, it's going to go evaluate the next part. If we do have a quantity of it to run, then we're going to look at do I have enough material? That's where the data that we're sending the machine tool comes into play because I'm now telling you exactly how much you have.

Randy Louis:

You have to make sure that that value is greater than your part length and as long as you have a quantity to make and we have enough material, then it will then call that cutting program. And it will just keep cycling through until either I don't have a quantity to make or I don't have enough material to make that part. So, if I had a 6-inch part, a 3-inch part and a 1 inch part that I wanted to run, and I'm reporting back that I only have five and three quarters inch material, I know I can't run that first part because I don't have enough. But it will then evaluate that second part and it will say, Hey, here's a 3-inch part, it's going to head and call that part.

Randy Louis:

So now we've got our remnant down to a smaller length. If I get down to where I don't have enough to make that, it's going to run down and jump down and run my smaller part. So, now I have, what I've done is I've taken this remnant that could possibly be very long and I'm going to reduce it down to the minimal length that it could possibly be. You know, you're running expensive material, it adds up to be a lot.

Wade Anderson:

Right. Get the most out of it. So, the connectivity side of it. What protocol are you using or is this a MTConnect platform?

Randy Louis:

So, there are actually several protocols. So, that's the nice thing. You know, when we interface with the Okuma machine, there's two different methods of communicating. So, when we're talking about a barfeeder, there are signals that are discreet, so you have standard IO signals that are being communicated. Those cannot be sent through the THINC platform. So, there is actually a converter in there that those types of signals get through. Those are bits, they're ons and they're offs, things like that. So, that's a different protocol. You're coming out of your machine with device network, converting it, the mod bus, DCP so that the bar feeder can understand it. The THINC API where, they're HTTP protocols that we're using. So.

Wade Anderson:

That's where you're getting your graphical interface space. People are going to be going in human interfacing.

Randy Louis:

Right. And then MTConnect is a protocol of itself. So, we're running three different protocols simultaneously on that machine.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. So, the eConnect, we're showing a lot of your devices now currently on Okuma Smart Factory that could go on to a FANUC FIELD or Freedom eLOG, anything like that. When we're looking at that, what are benefits of that to a customer? I think that's the million-dollar question people have. There's all these OEE type software platforms available. We've got our own, FANUC’s got theirs, everybody's got a version of it. What do you do with it? That's, the biggest phone call I get. Hey, I'm looking at whatever platform and how do I get a return on that investment? Why would I make that visual and what does that do for me?

Randy Louis:

Right, so there's two parts to the eConnect or to the advanced connectivity. You have two paths to go down. You can do machine-to-machine communication, where we can actually take the whole process to a higher level of automation, or we can do the data collection. What you're referring to about either connecting to the Okuma Connect Plan software or Freedom software. Either one. There are many packages out there, but the types of data that we'll be sending to that would be over an MTConnect format. From there, you can start doing lots of analytics, collecting data, uptime, downtime. On the Okuma side, you're looking at spindle speeds, you're able to do predictive maintenance, so a lot of different things like that, that you can do by gathering that information over a period of time.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. Now that dovetails back in. I'm going to flip the conversation back over to Ron here. He just mentioned about predictive maintenance. That's a big issue for me. If I'm a machine shop owner and I'm trying to get my overall efficiencies up and I'm trying to maximize my spindle utilization, last thing I need to be doing is shutting the machine down mid process, whether it's manual loaded or automated and pulling chip conveyors out and trying to clean out sludge out of a coolant tank. How are you guys addressing that from a filtration standpoint?

Ron Parker:

Well, we've got some exciting new filtration items out. Our cyclonic filter is something we've been working on for a couple of years and it's actually a cyclonic filter that we studied the market and cyclonic filtration is nothing new. It's been out for years, but we have actually engineered a better cyclone than anything that's out there to match made on CNC equipment and it's the interior passageways are all polished and we've been able to eliminate pulsations.

Ron Parker:

We're able to basically take a cyclone which has no moving parts other than the pump that pumps the coolant through it and get filtration down to two microns with efficiencies up around 95%.

Wade Anderson:

Wow. All right. So, back in my previous life when I first got into machining, actually the very first chip I ever cut in my entire life was on an old Okuma LB 15 it was at a turbocharger manufacturer. I'll leave the name out of it. I don't know if I can say that over a podcast or not. But, one of the worst jobs that I ever had was, on the horizontal machining centers. About every three or four months we would have to pull the coolant tank apart and I would literally have to chisel out the cast iron sludge that basically set up like concrete in that thing. And you talk about dirty, nasty, slimy work.

Wade Anderson:

Does the cyclonic filtration, would that help from that aspect?

Ron Parker:

Oh, like magic. It's like night and day. I mean, that's really what we designed it for. Customers coming to us saying there's got to be something better than bag filters. Many of our cast iron customers were literally changing their bag filters every eight hours. So, if they're running three shifts a day, that's three times a day they have to shut down and change a bag filter. And so, that's why we designed the cyclone, it eliminates the bag filter. So, there's no bag filters, no cartridge filters, no paper band media. The cyclone runs by itself and we pull that sludge out of the tank and we deposit it into a separate holding tank. And so, your sump on your machine tool, actually even with cast iron can still have clean coolant, a nice yellow or white colored coolant, your sump does not have to be dirty looking if you're machining cast iron, we can actually clean that to look like brand new coolant all the time.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. So, if I'm… say I’m a machine shop, I've got 25 machines all in a row and I've got a critical path. I've got 25 machines and out of these 25 I've got five that I got to make sure they don't go down. We've got tight production; we've got tight goals that we've got to hit. What am I using from LNS that's going to help me make sure that the Okuma is communicated, it's visual and we can monitor when this downtime could occur and try to get ahead of that game?

Ron Parker:

Yeah. So, that's where the Connect Plan really comes in, or any other third-party package that you want to do for monitoring. We can also not only tie that in that the chip conveyor, not the chip conveyor, the high-pressure system, I'm sorry we offer too many products. But the high-pressure cooling system.

Wade Anderson:

Talk about a lot of products, look at our product… at one time.

Ron Parker:

I know it's crazy isn't it?

Wade Anderson:

Have a customer ask you "Hey, what's the spindle nose on a, you know, whatever machine?" And one platform can be configured 71 different ways. You think I can remember all of that off the top of my head.

Ron Parker:

But you tie them in along with our air filtration systems, so there's filters in the high-pressure system, there's two or three filters in a mist collector. So.

Wade Anderson:

Are those visible? Can I see what those filters are doing from there?

Ron Parker:

You can see them. So, there's a mechanical gauge. We've also taken, and with our eConnect platform, we've digitized that data now. And we can expose that out to the Okuma Connect Plan. So, you take that along with the high pressure, you could have the 25, 50 units, the mist collectors, we have customers that have more than a hundred of them. So, how do you even monitor that? How do you set up preventative maintenance on that? So, by us being able to digitalize the pressures and exposing that data to the connect plan, now that can all be monitored from a single dashboard. So, somebody's not spending all their time walking around inspecting machines, somebody can just sit in front of a monitor and evaluate all that.

Wade Anderson:

So if I'm the manufacturing engineer, the production engineer, that's my dashboard, I can see what's going on and I can say, "Okay, these five machines I've set aside that I've, that I want to make sure that they don't go down in the middle of the night unexpectedly."

Wade Anderson:

I can be monitoring that and seeing, my filtration level was getting to a certain point. I need to schedule maintenance to go in and change that out at seven o'clock in the morning.

Ron Parker:

Exactly, yes. We'll tell you if the filter is good, if it's in a warning state or if it's exceeded its use. So, you know when it's in the warning state, there you can just take and set up a schedule, for when you want to have the machine down.

Wade Anderson:

All right. Excellent. As we bring this to a close, is there any new products, you know, maybe it's not to market right now today, but what is three, five years down the road look like? Anything new and exciting from LNS that's coming down the pipeline?

Randy Louis:

Wade, we actually are working on a project right now that's going to tie in with our cyclone filtration.

Randy Louis:

It would be an air removal device. So, a lot of customers out there have foaming issues with their coolant and they always blame the high-pressure coolant guys, right? So, we're going to solve that problem. So, we're working on a device that will piggyback with our cyclone filtration that washes and remove the air, as it passes through our cyclonic devices. So, in testing phases now, and you'll probably see that within the next year or so.

Wade Anderson:

Fantastic. Always innovating. All right, well guys, I appreciate your time today. Appreciate you joining us here. And as always, if anybody in our listening audience has questions or topics that they want to hear us talk about, please send them in. We're glad to go through them and come up with solutions for you. My name's Wade Anderson, and we'll see you next time.

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