5 Easy Preventative Maintenance Steps to Optimizing CNC Machine Uptime
November 28, 2014
Despite all of your efforts to increase productivity through advanced CNC machine technologies, factory automation and smarter machining techniques, unnecessary machine downtime can eliminate everything you’ve gained. That’s why a planned preventative maintenance program (PPM) is so important. And it really isn’t all that complicated. In fact the basics of PPM can be summed up in these 5 actions:
Lubricate. If you rely on your car or truck and don’t want engine trouble, you know you must change the oil at regular intervals. Machine tools typically work a lot harder than most vehicles and they need regular lubrication to function properly and prevent premature wear. That’s why each machine should be regularly inspected and the proper lubrication applied as needed. Using the wrong grease or oil could cause serious problems, so adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Keep It Clean. At the end of a shift, visually inspect the machine for chips, dirt or other debris that might cause damage and for worn parts. For example, replacing worn wipers protects the ways from serious injury that could take a machine out of production for weeks. In the same way foreign materials that get into the lubrication system can bring a machine to a grinding halt, so be sure filtering screens and caps are replaced when checking or adding oil.
Follow Manufacturer’s Maintenance Schedule. Again, just like your vehicles, the maker provides a handy schedule of what, when and how to keep your machine in peak condition for it’s entire life. If your people view this as “extra work” that interferes with their “real” job, you should consider retraining them so they understand that keeping the equipment in optimum working order is not an interruption, but part of their daily responsibilities.
Don’t Neglect Peripherals. No CNC machine is an island. There are a number of accessories – from workholding fixtures to chip conveyors and coolant systems – that should be included in your regular maintenance program. A production system is only as strong as its weakest link and an out-of-alignment fixture, backed-up chips or a clogged coolant nozzle can lead to costly downtime.
Keep Critical Spare Parts On Hand. Having a backup of normal wear-and-tear items on hand saves considerable time and extra shipping expenses. No, you don’t want to tie up excessive dollars in spare parts, but there are a handful of items like way wipers and belts that make good sense to keep in stock. Start with compiling a spare parts list.