Batch Process Manager Intelligently Plans Production Flow
March 19, 2019
New function for pallet management with the HEIDENHAIN TNC 640
HEIDENHAIN’s TNC 640 control provides many powerful functions for pallet management and the serial production of machined workpieces. A new addition to this repertoire is the Batch Process Manager. This function enables precise planning of the upcoming production sequence right on the control as well as the smooth execution of pending jobs—capabilities of particular importance for unattended shifts.
The Batch Process Manager intelligently and predictively organizes pending machining jobs. The user of a HEIDENHAIN TNC 640 control simply creates a job list for the approaching night shift, entire day, or upcoming weekend. The Batch Process Manager evaluates the job list and delivers important information before machining begins, such as when a manual intervention is required and how long the machine will be in use.
Simple to use
The new Batch Process Manager is based on the pallet management feature of the TNC 640—to be more precise, it interprets the pallet file in the background. All of the entries made in the Batch Process Manager are stored in this pallet file by the TNC control. The following types of structure elements are available for entry: pallet, fixture and program. Based on these structure elements, the Batch Process Manager can model the actual situation at a machine with pallets.
A separate entry is available for each pallet, and the user has the option of defining the fixture plane as well as the respective NC programs for the workpieces. To this end, the Batch Process Manager provides convenient editing features. Parts of or even entire structure entries can be copied, moved and inserted. It is also possible to create new entries during actual pallet machining. The created job list is carried out in a linear fashion, during which the user can lock individual programs or even entire pallets. These locked pallets are then simply skipped during the sequential execution of the jobs.
All of the jobs in view
After the creation of a job list, the control automatically determines whether all of the prerequisites for smooth execution of the entered jobs are fulfilled. This process includes a check of the following criteria:
- Is a preset defined at the level of the pallet, program or fixture?
- Are the required tools available in the tool magazine, and do they have sufficient tool life?
- Does the NC program run in simulation mode without error messages?
The Batch Process Manager displays the results of this analysis in a clear and straightforward graphical overview. The user immediately sees whether all of the programs will run without error and whether all of the required tools are available. He can also see how long his job list will take to complete. The Batch Process Manager repeats this analysis cyclically so that the displayed data are continually updated.
If the control detects a problem, such as a tool with insufficient service life for the planned machining operation, then the Batch Process Manager displays the anticipated time at which the manual intervention will be required. The Batch Process Manager provides the following information in advance:
- The machining sequence
- The time of the next manual intervention
- The program duration and run time
- Status information regarding the preset, tool, and NC program
A prerequisite for all analyses involving tools is the enabling of option 93, Extended Tool Management, on the control. The NC program is executed as usual over the pallet management function. Naturally, the Batch Process Manager can be used for planning even when individual NC programs are executed in the Program Run, Full Sequence operating mode. In this case, the pallet entries must be manually locked after machining.
Versatile, with exciting potential
Although the Batch Process Manager is primarily designed for machine tools featuring automation, this new function also makes sense for classic single-part production because the abovementioned structure elements can also be used on machines without pallets. In this case, the system settings are configured to define the intended behavior of the machine at the end of an NC program; namely, that the machine operator will manually set up the next workpiece and then start the subsequent machining operation.
HEIDENHAIN is already working to expand the functionality of the Batch Process Manager. Among others things, plans are underway for the Batch Process Manager to be available for use from within the Program Run, Full Sequence operating mode.