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Teaching CNC with the Key Concepts approach - part eight

Part eight - Key concept number Seven: You must understand your machine from an operator's viewpoint

Key Concept number seven formally begins the setup and operation part of this course. However, you’ve done a great deal during the programming-related lessons to prepare students for setup and operation. Indeed, we’ve been giving suggestions in each lesson plan to help you stress setup and operation related topics.

We’ve done this for three reasons. First, and as stated many times in our curriculums, programmers must know enough about setup and operation to direct setup people and operators. Truly, the more a programmer knows about setup and operation, the better and more efficient the programs they will write.

We feel this is a common short-coming in many CNC-using companies. Setup people and operators are often left to fend for themselves - with minimal direction from programmers (or anyone else). If a programmer truly understands what it takes to make setups and complete productions runs, they can provide exceptional setup and production run documentation.

Consider, for example, a technique shown in lesson eighteen that is related to trial machining using block delete. With a true understanding of what a setup person or operator must do in order to trial machine, a programmer can include commands right in the program that facilitate any trial machining application. If a programmer doesn't understand trial machining, of course, the setup person and operator must struggle through trial machining on their own. Worse, they will not know how to trial machine and scrap many workpieces.

Second, setup people and operators can truly benefit from having a working knowledge of certain programming features. When appropriate, we’ve provided suggestions in each lesson plan to help you explain certain programming functions to setup people and operators.

While you won't go into programming details for setup people and operators, you explain enough to help them understand the setup- and operation-related implications of these programming features. During Key Concepts one and four, for example, you explain enough about program zero assignment, tool length compensation, and cutter radius compensation to help setup people and operators understand the reasons why certain things must be done at the machine.

Third, we’ve minimized the need for duplicating presentations. If you’ve followed our recommendations and presented the setup- and operation-related implications of certain programming features during programming, you won’t have to repeat these presentations during the setup and operation part of this class – though reviewing key points never hurts.

Key concept number seven contains two topics (lessons):

  • Setup-related tasks versus production-run-related tasks

  • Buttons and switches on the control panels

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