You may remember a long running campaign for automotive transmission service that stated: “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” The phrase still holds true when it comes to performing preventative maintenance on cars, trucks or CNC machine tools.
Some shops are so busy churning out parts for their customers, that routine maintenance falls behind. While no one wants to slow down production, taking time to keep your CNC machines properly maintained is much less expensive than dealing with a machine breakdown or out-of-spec parts because of worn CNC machine components. Moreover, regular maintenance ensures that your machines will last longer thus improving your ROI.
Performing regular maintenance isn’t all that difficult, it simply takes a little advanced planning and and follow through. Here are seven basic steps toward a sound preventative maintenance program:
Establish a schedule and stick to it. Consult your CNC machine’s maintenance guidelines, set up a schedule and designate a responsible party to carry out the tasks involved. Provide a dated checklist and have the assigned person initial and turn in the form when the tasks are completed. Hang a master schedule where everyone can see it and notate the completion dates. This demonstrates that you are serious about preventative maintenance and keeps the issue top-of-mind for everyone in the shop.
Train employees on proper techniques. Whether you or your CNC machine dealer conducts the training, be sure your people understand that the devil is in the details. For example, adding lubricant may seem like a no-brainer, but using the wrong grease or oil can cause serious problems. In the same way, forgetting to replace the fill cap can allow contaminants to damage moving parts.
Keep an inventory of basic parts on hand. A typical CNC machine has components such as batteries, filters, way wipers, coolant pins and other consumables that need regular replacing. On the other hand, it doesn’t make sense to stock drives, encoders, ball screws or other major components, especially is your CNC dealer offers quick delivery of such parts.
Look for signs of abuse. If you have a CNC machine that breaks down regularly despite regular maintenance, you may be pushing it beyond its capabilities. Perhaps it simply isn’t robust enough for what you’re asking it to do. Consider redistributing the workload, or investing in a machine better suited to your requirements.
Don’t forget the accessories. Regular maintenance applies to all of the equipment in the shop, not just the machine tools. Be sure coolant systems, chip conveyors, bar feeders, mist collectors, chucks and other workholding devices get the TLC they need as well.
If all of this seems a bit daunting, remember that Gosiger can help. With a large, trained staff of technical service providers, preventative maintenance plans and customized training for your personnel, Gosiger will insure that your CNC machines not only operate at peak efficiency, but do so for a long, long time.