Software Utility Helps CNC Data Management

FASConnect is a software solution for network-distributed data management among machines equipped with a Fanuc CNC. It is intended to ease and simplify integration of these machines on a PC-based network for backup purposes.


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The computer workstations in most shops are connected to a network. This network enables users to share email messages, run applications remotely, download data and save files on a centralized server. Saving files as a backup is an especially important function of a network because it protects critical data that might be lost if one of the computer’s hard drive crashes or malfunctions. Typically, a shop’s CNC machine tools are connected to a network also, although doing so is often difficult. For this reason, shops often have a harder time backing up critical CNC data. For example, shops may have to resort to carrying portable memory devices to each machine tool to back up the files. 

Fanuc Factory Automation (Fanuc FA America) has introduced a software utility designed to ease and simplify integration of Fanuc CNC-equipped machine tools on a PC-based network for backup purposes. This product is software-only, which means it can be installed on networked PCs already in the shop.
This software utility is called FASConnect, short for FOCAS Automation Solution Connect. (FOCAS is the company’s Open CNC API specification for the high speed exchange of data between the CNC and the PC.) FASConnect is a software solution for network-distributed data management among machines equipped with a Fanuc CNC. This new utility facilitates the creation of a network so CNC data can be managed at all the machines in the factory from any computer on the network.
According to the company, FASConnect is the server side of a client/server-type application. In other words, the main application is installed on a central PC, and then accessed either locally on this central “server” PC, or remotely from a “client” PC that is connected to the same network. The “server” PC acts as a hub to which all the Fanuc CNCs are connected. Thus, any PC on the network can communicate with any CNC machine on the network. Because the utility is based on Microsoft Windows, the CNC data is presented in a folder/file structure accessible in Windows Explorer, a format PC users will instantly recognize. For example, CNC data files can be dragged and dropped for backup. The files can be opened with any text editor and are easily readable.
However, the software does not allow users to change the files. This reduces the risk of CNC data being compromised, yet does not hamper remote part-program management by the programmer. To download part programs to the CNC, the user must have the correct credentials (username and password). The server PC can be any suitable platform running Windows XP, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008. Any Windows-based computer can act as a client.

The system is scalable, that is, a shop or plant simply acquires new licenses to cover added CNC connections. Ultimately, as many as 22 users can be logged on at one time, with no limit on the number of machine connections. Multiple servers are also possible. According to the company, this flexibility makes the utility functional for small shops with a few machines as well as for big plants with hundreds of machines. Although only machines with Fanuc CNCs can be connected, the control units can be any model that is capable of Ethernet communication. Older units can be connected if they are interfaced to a dedicated PC using a Fanuc HSSB fiber-optic communication link to the network. The software uses the common File Transfer Protocol (FTP) for a high degree of compatibility, the company says.

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