With so many automation systems available, it can be hard to know which to use to meet your specific goals and needs as a manufacturing leader. Guest speakers Randy Jokerst and Brad Klippstein share how the THINC Developers Group enables the Metal Working Nation to perform at its best by solving manufacturing leaders’ problems through innovation.
Randy is the Director of Technical Services at Hartwig Inc. and one of the founding members of the THINC Development Group. Entering the manufacturing world by way of CNC engineering, he has used his gifting in engineering to amp up machinist’s efficiency by implementing automation systems into new machines. Also an engineer, Brad Klippstein is the Supervisor of the Okuma Product Specialist Group. His manufacturing journey began when he visited a machine tool fair fresh out of college and was asked if he wanted to program robots. Hooked, Brad dove into developing new technology and applications at the forefront of the programming world.
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Having trouble creating efficient processes or closing the skills gap of the next manufacturing generation? Founded in 2008, the THINC Developers Group was created to solve the issues of the Metal Working Nation and provide the cutting-edge applications needed to automate manufacturing systems. The THINC control for machining systems was originally PC-based, and while the developers understood how to navigate and decipher the data collected by the control, most users were unable to view what the control was collecting. The development group was created to enable customers to build their own control interface apps so that they could use the control system to meet their unique needs. The THINC group’s focus is on the communication between the machine tool side and the PC side - teaching people to write the apps to accomplish their machining goals.
Better efficiency is something manufacturing leaders are constantly working towards. One way to improve efficiency while also pouring into your team’s adaptability and performance is to automate the jobs that take away from time that your team can spend in their specific areas of expertise. Limiting distractions by utilizing automation systems to set and send reminders can also boost efficiency levels. Randy talks about how one of the U.S. mints had three separate operations that moved parts from one machine to the next to make the coin dies. Using an automation system developed by the THINC group, they were able to combine their operations into a three-machine/one robot cell that produced all the parts within hours instead of days.
Many of Okuma Inc.’s developments have come from the THINC Developers Group. Through the MyOkuma app, you can integrate the Okuma tools into your systems. Compatible with many different PC systems, the THINC Developers Group plays in the sandbox of the Application Program Interface (API), creating communication points between machines. The vision and goals of the customer are brought into being through the innovation of THINC and executed through their developments via the Okuma Sampling Path.
Brad explains that at Okuma, through the Okuma Sampling Path, they can read, write, and access thousands of data points within the controls of systems and machines. They can make the control do whatever the customer needs through the API. All of the solutions data can be viewed and interpreted by the customers so that they can make the best business decisions based upon the data provided.
MTConnect takes the guessing work out of machine data interpretation. Okuma machine tools and the Okuma control collect their machining data from MTConnect, which harvests data straight from the CNC machines, interprets it, and sends it to the Okuma control. Manufacturers have access to this data through their own Okuma controls because MTConnect is already attached to the control from the moment it hits the shop floor. MTConnect allows you to take all the information processed and pull it up via the data stream to your phone, tablet, or computer. With Okuma controls, there is no additional fee for MTConnect. Because it is sent via data stream to your devices, you can access necessary data even while offline.
Reading exuberant amounts of data can be overwhelming, which is why the THINC Developers Group created several unique dashboard bases to meet the different needs of manufacturing leaders and their teams. Streamlining your automation systems by utilizing a central dashboard for data collection and interpretation will enable you to view and make decisions more quickly. Instead of manually checking on the tools and machines being used and recording the health, run-time, and down-time of your tools, you can see all of that data displayed on a single dashboard. The idea is to create a condition-based, automated environment that allows you to be as hands-off as possible with the menial work required to run your business. Automation systems are all about keeping it simple and clarifying communication between your team and machines.
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