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Smart systems can set you up for a COVID-19 comeback

Rob Caron President Caron Engineering, Inc.
By Rob Caron President, Caron Engineering, Inc.

The impact of COVID-19 has changed the way we conduct business, and now, more than ever, illuminates the need for manufacturers to assess their processes and implement smart manufacturing technology.  The challenges that manufacturers face daily, have only been exacerbated with the current pandemic. Adding value to your current machinery to allow unattended operations, and improve productivity, without relying on operators to perform every function, is even more imperative in today’s climate.

Reduced availability of skilled workers has been a modern development even before the pandemic.  Now, with shops closing down or limiting operations and the number of workers permitted on the shop floor, the need to have operations functioning without operator presence, and to add value to your current equipment to optimize manufacturing processes, is key.

Automate and Optimize Setup Procedures. Integrating automation in the tool-load process, combined with offline tool measurement, greatly reduces setup time, eliminates common data entry errors, and prohibits operators from inadvertently loading the wrong tools into the machine.  Caron Engineering has developed a sophisticated retrofit tool-identification system that is customized to fit the customer’s tool load process and requirements. ToolConnect uses RFID tags embedded in tool holders to automatically transfer tool presetter data to the machine control via its custom control interface. This system reads and writes all tool measurement and tool life information to and from the tag, which is read and processed by a custom read station. The intuitive user interface provides a visual of all tool-measurement data, picture and process flow for the operator. ToolConnect even has the failsafe option of indexing to the correct magazine position to eliminate any margin for error.

Run Unattended. Real-time tool monitoring can optimize the machine tool cutting process to increase shop productivity. By monitoring tool wear in real time, a system like TMAC (Caron Engineering’s tool monitoring adaptive control system) can react instantaneously to wear and extreme conditions, and stop and expire tools, without the need for operator intervention. This system offers advanced adaptive control capabilities, allowing TMAC to take over the machine tool feedrate to automatically reduce the feedrate with high-power cuts and increase the feedrate with low-power cuts, to maximize tool life and reduce cycle time. Customers machining hard and difficult-to-machine materials will realize significant benefits with adaptive control. This system lets manufacturers run unattended operations with confidence. By extending tool life, reducing cycle time and preventing damage from extreme conditions, this system provides an almost immediate ROI.

Closing the Loop. Eliminating the manual calculation of tool and wear offsets after part measurement saves time and eliminates the potential for data-entry errors that can result in excessive scrap or possible machine damage. Caron Engineering’s AutoComp software processes the measurement file from almost any electronic gauging device and automatically calculates and compensates offsets in the CNC control. This happens without any operator intervention. This software also calculates tool life and has many features for customized macro-enabled alerts and data trending.

In today’s economic climate, adding value to your current equipment for more intelligent and automated manufacturing is essential and cost-effective. Our unique technology interfaces with almost any CNC control on the market, making us a single source solution to optimize productivity on your shop floor.

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