} Eliminating Redundancy Through Tool Data Management | Production Machining

Eliminating Redundancy Through Tool Data Management

Sponsored by Okuma. A paperless tool management system allows equipment to communicate with each other to share cutting tool information.


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One of the many partnership solutions formed at Partners in THINC is a tool data management center that includes Kennametal’s ToolBoss tool crib/inventory management system, Zoller presetter and Okuma Captain L370 CNC lathe with the THINC-OSP control. For an engineer or machine operator, this combination eliminates redundancy in terms of managing tool data as that information moves through the system along with the tools.

“Typically, all necessary tool information has resided in three different places,” explains Joe Alhafi, Okuma senior engineer. “That information would be on the machine tool, the pre-setter and perhaps even in a tool crib and inventory manager such as the ToolBoss system. Without an interconnected process, an operator might have to enter data twice at both the presetter and the data inventory manager. At the machine tool, all this data would need to be entered into the machine again, possibly from handwritten notes. Partners in THINC came up with a better way to do this.”

The tool data management system developed by Partners in THINC ties everything together by a job, work or other unique I.D. number. This information includes tool data, setup information, part program, part drawing and any other information that the factory uses to manage a job. The part number or the components that will make up a tool assembly can now be set up at either the Zoller presetter or the ToolBoss inventory manager.

“Once it’s set, it’s set,” Mr. Alhafi says. “The systems are networked wirelessly or via cable, and the information is shared no matter which machine you start with in the process.”

Tool Assembly Example

As an example, consider a complete tool assembly that requires three pieces. With information already pre-set, a call to the ToolBoss through the THINC-OSP control cues up the three necessary pieces from the tool requirement list previously set in the system. An operator simply removes the tool pieces from the ToolBoss, assembles them and places the completed tool into the Zoller presetter. After tool measurements are taken and stored, a new part number with the tool’s specific attributes is assigned. Then, the operator will inventory that new part number into the ToolBoss system, which automatically informs the machine tool that the transaction has taken place.

The operator then returns to the machine and inserts the tool. The computer prompts for verification that tool insertion and any other required functions have been completed. Stored tool data that includes links, tool radius and tool life information can now be retrieved by the Zoller presetter. Having this paperless system means there is no chance that an operator will key-in incorrect data, which could cause a crash or result in the production of a bad part.

All communication happens via Ethernet connection. In addition to the benefits of offering a paperless process, a bar code or other electronic entry method can be used to input the job I.D. number to eliminate the process of keying data into the system. With the THINC-OSP control’s ability to plug-and-play a USB bar code reader, the scanned bar code opens in an application window where the tool data management process can continue.

Tool History Data Management

Over the course of a tool’s life, its radius changes and length shortens. If an operator knew a tool could cut satisfactorily for 5 hours but the tool was only used for 2.5 hours, how would the operator remember this information when it was needed later? What if several machines used the same tooling? How challenging would it be to share the tools and information?

These concerns can be addressed using Exact JobBOSS, an ERP application that not only manages data, but shares it throughout the factory among databases. All of the standard, non-proprietary databases are accessible for sharing historical, current or planning information even from a remote location. With this stored data, shops can predict tool use and supply chain needs. Kennametal and Zoller have their own tool-management utilities that can link to supply chain systems capable of issuing purchase orders for upcoming tool needs.