Most CNC routers are now using high technology sophistication to ensure that the sign shops provide customers with precise and shaping. These machines can be productive for over 20 years and in fact, they are the biggest investments sign shops have ever made.
Looking at it from a business point of view, the longer your machine runs smoothly, the more income you are likely to generate. Having a router that cannot operate for long without breaking down will affect your company’s productivity. To your consternation as a company owner, you will witness a negative impact on the productivity of your company.
Mostly, the router’s design has nothing to do with its downtime but rather the maintenance practices. All routers come with a maintenance program recommended by the manufacturers. However, employees working at the sign shops may fail while following the maintenance program.
However, you do not have to conclude that any default to your router is caused by negligence in following the manufacturer’s guide. A small default left unattended for a while can lead to larger problems to your machine. The defaults can be because of workforce shortage on a certain day or failure to dedicate the required time during the production of the CNC router.
To be honest, the problem is still the same no matter what caused it. The thing is how you should go about rectifying the problem or prevent it from occurring. Do not ignore things since even small defaults can contribute to shortening your router’s lifespan. Attend to each maintenance practice starting from lubrication proper tooling in the router’s spindle. Though you should not be comfortable if your machine continues to operate normally after carrying out maintenance activities. There might be undesirable damages accumulated over time that can shorten the lifespan of your CNC router.
Keeping your tooling equipment clean will ensure that you get a finished edge that is well polished.
Avoid Pitfalls Shortcuts.
Following the maintenance protocols by your manufacturer, the CNC can have a productivity life of over 20 years. Ensure that you observe every program as recommended. Whether it is daily, monthly or weekly. CNC router machines are designed and made to handle heavy duties. Failure to observe the manufacturer’s recommendation can significantly affect the router’s lifespan.
Murphy’s Law, which suggests that anything can go wrong in any condition, applies in CNC machines. Anything given a chance can go wrong. As a sign shop owner, you should not give your router a chance to go wrong. What is the worst thing in any company more than having machines that are not functioning? Ensure that you attend to your machine, identify any threats, and solve them as early as possible. This will ensure that your CNC router operates efficiently and for a longer period.
Your CNC router may experience downtime caused by issues not related to maintenance. Electric outage because of too much dust on your CNC router can be the reason you are experiencing problems while working with your router. Although, these occurrences are very rare. Improper maintenance is the main problem associated with CNC router failure. If you do not observe the maintenance practices as required, production cost and workforce will consequently increase.
Andrew Kovach, a Barbican Products Architectural shop supervisor (this is an industrial lighting and commercial company in Erie Fort operating three routers) suggests that he has experience in how improper machine maintenance can affect the productivity of any organization. The supervisor advises regular lubrication to avoid damaging the bearing and finally shutting them down.
However, Andrew suggests that he follows the maintenance protocols as per the manufacturer to lubricate the bearings after every 2 weeks. If the machine is performing heavy tasks, the supervisor has to ensure lubrication after every 40 hours of machine working. He attributes that observing the recommendations by manufacturers has increased the efficiency and reliability of the CNC routers. One of the router has been operating for 12 years now. The main work of these routers is to cut plastics and metals in an environment described by Andrew as dusty. The dirty and dust can be due to MDF, and other shades and fixtures. As the company keeps the manufactured hardware, shades and lenses on-site, this does not interrupt router operations.
The supervisor says that router downtime is very rare in the company. Besides, in case of it, it is normally resulted by things to do with electrical which is a field they are capable of handling.
Sometimes you may find yourself not following the manufacturer’s router maintenance protocols. This can happen when you want to deliver customer services before the deadline or during times of large workloads. However, you should work as much as you can to avoid interfering with the router’s maintenance schedule. Once you know the value of your CNC router and the expense you might incur by failing to observe the manufacturer’s recommendations, you will avoid the case at all costs. As a shop manager, you have to ensure that routine maintenance practices such as lubrication are taken care of daily. The router is the most important thing in your shop; ensure that you attend to all maintenance practices without shortcuts for the good of your company.
The best thing is that you can easily perform the router maintenance practices as recommended and the whole practice does not consume much time. For instance, lubricating bearings and racks only takes a few minutes. With today’s technology on routers, the process is simplified further. There are internal logs that automatically updates the user of any detected issue on the CNC router. You can check daily updates on how your CNC machine is working in the automatic logs. The solution and history of any default in the machine are documented too. This feature is very helpful in avoiding unexpected downtime while production is going on.
Due to the busy schedule by most companies, the staff can easily forget some router maintenance steps. Fortunately, you can get a modified router that has the entire maintenance database log (that is daily, weekly and monthly). This will record the time and date off every action-taking place on the machine thus following the prescribed CNC router maintenance schedule. The manufacturers can also gain access and send reports of every day’s router activity to the top manager.
Different router models might require a different maintenance schedule. The following guidelines are general you can apply them to any type of CNC router.
CNC router gets dirty easily. This can be due to most of the operating in dusty environments. With this, you have to ensure your machine is clean most of the time. Chips and fluids buildups can easily enter the controls and bearings. Failure to attend to this early can be a very good recipe for router downtime. Ensure that you clean your CNC machine daily.
Manufacturers’ advice that you hand sweep your CNC machine. You can also get rid of substances accumulated on the bearings using an air gun. While cleaning your CNC router, you are directed to lower its air pressure.
Lubricating the track system can also be a great way of avoiding downtimes while in the production process.
Similar to clogged filters that can affect the efficiency of an engine of any automobile, ensure that you change the vacuum pumps and router’s control box to make sure your router runs smoothly while working. Also, change the water, trap oil and filter in the pneumatic lines.
The accepted rule is to check the filter weekly and change them in case the need arises. Although, how regular you should observe this activity depends on the type of the CNC machine, materials being cut and environmental factors surrounding the machine such as dirt and dust.
CNC router has many parts. Despite this, they do not need extensive lubrication. However, if you fail to observe the activity, you will witness machine breakdowns. Any malfunction resulted from failure to lubricate your router can void the warranty by manufacturers.
Lubrication is a very basic step in router maintenance. Although reminders will help you emphasize how important it is, try to observe the activity without a reminder. However, how often you should lubricate your machine can vary depending on the machine type, surroundings and extent of machine use; pumps, oscillating knives, and bearing need regular lubrication.
Most routers operate using pneumatic air. This air has to be of a certain pressure more than 522 kPa, dry and very clean. Ensure that you check the air pressure regularly since failure to observe this specification will damage your CNC router in a very short period.
- Provide proper and safe electrical power
Ensure that local power companies connect your CNC router to safe and sufficient electricity according to regulations. Poor electrical grounding such as insufficient capacity and low voltage can damage your CNC machine. Just as in any computer-operated machine, a small power spark can result in serious damage to the machine.
A detailed schedule
Every CNC router has a preventive maintenance guide by the manufacturer including cleaning steps, checking to pump oil, cleaning cover threads and nut, inspection forms among others.
Inspection forms cover greasing of bearings, pinions and racks, gasket repair and filter cleaning monthly.
Beyond the Router Maintenance Checklist
Sign makers using CNC machines learned that sometimes you have to go beyond the checklist. You have to attend to faults that may arise on your router even if you have done all required by the checklist.
As a shop manager, you need to ensure that each employee understands that interfering with the maintenance procedure can affect productivity negatively.
The best way to ensure that your CNC router works efficiently and with reliability is by following what the CNC router manufacturer recommends.