The dwindling supply of talented machine tool operators is one of the metalworking industry’s most conspicuous dilemmas. It has been especially difficult to find employees who are qualified to operate multifunction Swiss-style lathes, let alone more straightforward CNC mills or turning centers. Some machinists, though comfortable operating typical CNC equipment, may not even understand how a multi-axis Swiss machine functions.
Recognizing that the key in cultivating a knowledgeable workforce lies in intuitive training methods, Index Corporation (Noblesville, Indiana) teamed with Oxygen Education (Indianapolis, Indiana) to develop a graphics-driven online training course for the Traub line of CNC Swiss-style lathes. The course is based on an interactive “virtual machine” that includes graphical representation of all significant machine components, subsystems and the CNC.
The first half of the chapter-based course describes the various machine components and demonstrates how they interact with each other. In these initial chapters, students are able to observe various machine components and their functions, which might not be possible when viewing an actual machine in action. By first displaying how a guide bushing, bar feeder or lubrication system works, for example, students will understand what the machine is before learning how to operate it in the second half of the course.
The machine operation section of the course covers the most routine tasks, including wiping barstock before installation, as well as more advanced duties such as presetting tools. The training CNC makes accessible and adjustable every button, knob and switch found on the actual machine control to allow students to play out “what if” scenarios.
Upon completing each chapter, students must pass an exam before advancing to the next chapter. This provides shop management with a mechanism to gage student performance, while allowing students to learn at their own pace. After completing the course, students can return to any portion of the course for review. Unlimited 24/7 access anywhere an Internet connection is available offers shops an alternative to having employees travel for their machine training. Index intends to create similar training courses for other machine models, including its multi-spindle machines.