Cycle Time Reduction Principles for CNC Machining Equipment

What is cycle time? What is cycle time? It is the time between the start of a task or a series of tasks and the completion of a task. The cycle time, for example, is the time that a shipping order has been printed and loaded onto a truck. Another definition is the time it takes for a workpiece to be loaded, unloaded, and run.

The cycle time of a machine is simply measured by the time it takes to press the button to begin the cycle for the first piece and then press the next button for that workpiece. CNC milling in Fremont, CA

The industry’s production numbers dictate that the greater the number of workpieces, the more important it will be to lower the cycle time.

There are four main categories that can be broken down everything and everything that happens in a Computer Numerical Control (CNC), machining equipment:

1. On-line, productive tasks:

These are the actual machining operations that take place during a CNC cycle. These operations include drilling, tapping, reaming and any other machining that aids in the completion of the workpiece. There are two methods to reduce the time it takes to complete these operations. The first would be careful planning.

Process engineers must choose the right machine tools, cutting tools, fixturing, machining order, according to the quantity of workpieces that will need to be machined. The machine processes used to machine the workpieces will determine the cycle time.

If your company’s processes have been implemented many times before you start your cycle time reduction program, your second option is to optimize cutting operations. This would include selecting the right cutting tools materials, feeds and speeds to machine the workpieces as efficiently and effectively as possible using the current process.

2. On-line, non-productive tasks:

These are tasks that happen during the machining process that don’t actually contribute to the final product. Computer Numerical Control professionals often focus on reducing program execution time as a priority. These are the things like rapid movements, tool changes, M-code execution and spindle acceleration/deceleration. This area allows for a shorter program execution time.

Sometimes, it is enough to simply monitor the production run for a few pieces to identify times when the program could be modified to reduce noticeable pauses in the cycle. However, the worker in these machines should not neglect other processes. They may be so focused on minimizing program execution that it overlooks other operations. This can lead to severe waste of cycle time.

3. Off-line, non-productive tasks:

These are tasks that do not contribute to the finalization of the workpiece. These tasks are performed while the machine produces workpieces so they don’t add to the cycle. If the operator has little or no work to do during long machine cycles, it is possible to let them perform off-line productive tasks.

4. Off-line, productive tasks:

These are the tasks that the CNC machine does while it is making workpieces. This would help speed up the production of the workpiece. This category is very helpful in long CNC cycles. It can significantly reduce the time required to complete the production run, which could effectively decrease the cycle time.

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