Company Views A Paperless Future

In spite of high precision machinery employed in this plant, engineers were forced to carry program updates on floppy disks to each individual operator. This meant inefficiencies, duplicated effort and production lags, especially when they added 15 new machines to its plant floor in a 2-year period.

Case Study From: 2/15/2001 Modern Machine Shop

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old DNC system at McSwain

Floppy discs and loose papers created an inefficient way to track program changes before DloG overhauled the old DNC system at McSwain Manufacturing Corporation to enable better information sharing within the company.

McSwain Manufacturing Corporation, headquartered at a 70,000-square-foot-plant in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a quality supplier of precision and machine components for the gas turbine, computer technology and aerospace industries. The company faced a real problem dealing with handwritten program changes during production runs. McSwain specializes in highly productive computer-controlled machining of cylindrical parts. Its machine tools are grouped to expedite three- and four-axis, computer-controlled machining in three dimensions, which includes a capability for large part machining. But in spite of state-of-the art metalworking equipment, McSwain was being hamstrung by intra-shop communication—or the lack of it!

In spite of high precision machinery employed in the plant, McSwain engineers were forced to carry program updates on floppy disks to each individual operator. This meant inefficiencies, duplicated effort and production lags with a capital “L,” especially when McSwain added 15 new machines to its plant floor in a 2-year period.

Worse, with McSwain’s previous system, only a limited number of DNC boxes were available for loading the machines. These boxes were not connected to the existing DNC software, and the supplier no longer supported the system. It was proving difficult to get spare parts. Productive hours were going down the drain as plant engineers wrestled with finding a box workable enough to load a program. It became clear something had to be done.

McSwain’s solution was to tap into the expertise of DLog (JobPack), a developer of integrated computer solutions technology based in Elgin, Illinois. DLoG provided McSwain with the ability to view an HTML file on the shop floor. This HTML file is created within the CAD/CAM system and contains the Process Plan, Setup Sheets and Tool List as one electronic document. Just two applications provide all the engineering data electronically on the shop floor. The CAD/CAM system creates the data and DLoG provides the data to the shop floor. The DLoG installation hit all of the goals McSwain saw as vital—a flexible CNC/DNC system that could fit within its existing engineering strategy; a PC-based, paperless system; HTML coding that could support the company’s existing electronic engineering data; and an end to the ceaseless storing of floppy discs.

It worked. Now there are no more frantic exchanges of handwritten notes between engineering staff and operators on the shop floor. The full electronic intranet is a reality at McSwain. The new overhauled DNC system has a download capacity (server to machine), making it possible for each operator to send the improvements regarding speeds and feeds back to the server—the upload side of the equation.

McSwain’s highly specialized task functions required multiple NC programs for each part of the production schedule. DLog’s integrated HTML technology did the trick.

And just how long did it take to install this system?

DLoG hit the ground running and connected all 44 machines in 10 days. The company’s hardware experts were on the shop floor doing connections and modifications, which some of the older CNC controls required, while one person worked on the software. There was good interaction between DLoG and McSwain.

When it came time to convert, and all the electronic files were plugged into the database of the new DNC system, minor glitches appeared in only two of McSwain’s 44 machines. DLoG specialists were quick off the mark to fix those problems.

Today McSwain’s engineers are able to match the complex, highly sophisticated data needed throughout their operations both to Quality Control requirements and the ISO 9002 procedures. In the words of DLoG President Dave Welsh, “Accessibility is realized. We offer not just a program but all the ancillary information built in.”

The lesson here for the precision machine business is this: Accessibility of needed ancillary information in one DNC package is possible. Talk to your DNC supplier. The faster your enterprise moves to a paperless system, the better.

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