Machine Tool Apps: A Manufacturing Definition
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MACHINE TOOL APP: CORE DEFINITION
A machine tool app is a piece of software that streamlines or simplifies operations on a CNC machine and its control, providing enhanced productivity. It is a self-contained program written for a very specific functionality. Because of the dynamics of the manufacturing environment, openness to customization is a crucial feature of any machine tool app. Just like a smartphone app, a true machine tool app is built on an open platform that can be customized by the user or any third-party developer (e.g. machine tool accessory providers, operators, programmers, or IT specialists).
Openness is the reason “there’s an app for that” today.
The true definition of a machine tool app must state that the environment is open for customization by individual users. Whenever a user is purchasing a machine tool, a key question to ask is “can I write my own apps for this control?” There are some machine tool builders that have truly open architecture controls that allow for individual customization, and Okuma is one of these. Okuma’s OSP-P control is Windows®-based, which allows for ease-of-use and integration with other programs. Most of the big CNC builders do not offer an open architecture platform. They might provide an interface layer on the control that gives users shortcut tools for their own preprogrammed functionalities. But these kinds of shortcuts are short-lived in their apparent usefulness and will need to be endlessly modified by the CNC builder to match the unique needs of each individual machine shop, both now and in the future. Investment in shortcut systems is simply shortsighted.
You gain an immediate productivity advantage while raising the bar beyond your competitors’ reach.