If you are a regular reader of this column you will note that it tends to feature small companies with the second or third generation owners pushing their organizations to new levels. Many companies in the industry start out as the "one-man band" or "mom and pop shop" and grow with time. This month's column features one such company.
Dick Ragnini, president of RBR Associates, has owned a Chicago area job shop for 9 years. He began selling machine tools in 1974 and opened his own place a few years later. RBR has developed a small but experienced team that now includes Mr. Ragnini's two sons. Rick, with RBR since 1988, is a former IBM programmer and marketing associate. Randy joined in 1991.
Rick and Randy grew up around machine tools and have helped RBR use technology to give it an edge. As a machine tool distributor offering CNC chip-making machinery sold as engineered applications, RBR has established itself as a reliable source for Illinois and Wisconsin area manufacturers.
In December of 1999 Rick and Randy decided they should teach themselves to write software for their Palm handheld computers. Due to the price, flexibility and hardware design of the PalmIII operating software, a handheld unit is perfect for shopfloor data transfer. Rick wrote the software, and Randy created a spin-off company called CNCini that will continue to develop electronic-based industrial tools and shopfloor devices.
The CncGcoder portable shopfloor G-code program maintenance device works quickly and is easy to use. Powered by the popular PalmOS platform with a handheld (PDA) computer, the CncGcoder makes it simple to access, edit and back up G-code programs from most machine tools regardless of the make or age of the machine. The unit has the ability to support up to 1,000 different machine tool profiles, then it saves 1,000 individual part programs in each machine profile, making recall and organization simple. A backup of a program is also easy via HotSync direct to a desktop or laptop PC.
Most buyers already have DNC networks but still have a need for a quick and simple backup device. Customers like the fact that the device is a standard Palm handheld and a shopfloor tool. Users with multiple systems can "beam" programs back and forth between units as well. This is not intended as a replacement for DNC systems, but as a convenient enhancement, ideal for maintenance and programming personnel for quick access on the shop floor. The unit fits in the palm of your hand, and the package includes everything you need to make full use of this portable, flexible and affordable electronic tool.
Domingo Mojica, manager of manufacturing systems at Parker-Hannifin (Miller) Fluid Power in Bensenville, Illinois, states, "I had a need for a quick, portable device for moving G-code programs around. When Rick showed me his new idea, I jumped at the chance to buy one and prove it out. In the case of a down machine, I can immediately make program backups, let maintenance fix the machine, then quickly restore all the programs. It's handy to have a fully capable personal organizer (that I use anyway) also be a useful programmer's tool . . . always in my pocket."
The first version of the CncGcoder is selling to shopfloor people who understand how easy it can be to accomplish things when they use the right tools. They like the fact that in addition to shopfloor software, every unit is fully functional as a Palm. The next software version is being updated, and a new model designed for manufacturer's field service technicians will be available soon. To learn more call (630) 971-8729.