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Training an employee on CNC -Cad/Cam2/7
Looking to those who have been in these shoes for advice and to learn from your encounters.
We are small custom shop -cabinets, curved moldings, etc. ( we also do construction and remodeling but this doesn't affect the guys in the shop).
I am the only one that knows how to use our cnc right now. We've had it almost 2 years and I am amazed at what we have been able to accomplish with it since . I do have one guy in early 20's that can operate the machine when doing nested sheet stock.
My problem is our machine does not run 8 hours a day ( or even every day really). We knew when we bought it , this would most likely be the case. However when we need it, it runs non stop. So I am still justifying having someone else with control of the cnc and being behind the computer when his shop floor production is always needed. But maybe his mind being less clouded of running the shop will help come up with more reasons to use it? And put some of the older guys at ease in the shop that the CNC is NOT going to take away their jobs but help them.
The question is, have any of you been in this situation? How did you go about the change in the shop, or did you even trust giving the control of the cnc to someone else?
After reading the above I realize there is probally more than one question in there, it's more of a situation. But there are so many great people on here with wisdom to help find a resolution.
Thanks in advance everyone .
Here's what I did.
I let one guy turn on the cnc, home it, taught him to change tooling, etc and then load and unload.
After he was extremely proficient @ running the cnc, I asked him to start drawing small easy jobs like runs of boxes. Then I sent him to school- training for Cabinetvision. It honestly took about a year, but he is now writing UCS's and smoking us all, pushing the shop into areas that would take me days to accomplish, but only takes him hours. Seriously. He has now taught two guys to run the cnc
You can teach another to estimate for you, and by showing him or her a procedure to double check the work and be thorough in gathering info on all the variables for the estimate, you can build/train a confident estimator You now have a lot off your plate.
Our primary estimator is a woman and Project Mangers call from all over our region to get an estimate because hers/ours are transparent and precise.
Depending on how you define Running the CNC, it isn't all that difficult. Make a list of what you expect and train to that list. If a part from a nest gets screwed up can he separate that part from the nest and run a new one with out having to get someone else involved? Can he modify the program if there is a minor problem? Does he understand the relationships between bit diameter, rotational speed, & feed rates? An experienced operator working with him for a few days will not make him perfect but operational.
Your last comment made me curious.
I can understand the basic relationship between bit diameter & feed rate. If your bit is too small it would likely shear off with a high rate of feed. Rotation speed presumably has something to do with cut quality or is this what compression is?
Is compression the part that handles chip evacuation?
How do you balance a small piece in the corner of a sheet with a bigger diameter bit? Wouldn't the plough that's being cut be so significant that it defeats the vacuum hold down?
How do you know when something is getting so hot it catches fire? Wouldn't the dust collector just pull the embers out?
These questions probably belong on the CNC forum but since you were here I thought I would ask.
We would be looking for him to understand Alphacam as well and learn and help program parts for jobs.
I would start him off as cabmaker has stated, and hope he can become a competent programmer as well.
Cabmaker thanks for your reply. I think I am on the same thought process as you.
Cabmaker, Is your question about making a new operator "operational?" In big shops the operator does little more than select the program, load & unload parts. In a little shop like mine I would consider an operator in the larger sense of the word to be able to have a basic knowledge of tooling, feeds, and code. He should be able to read code but not necessarily write code manually. He should know the proper methods of work holding, tooling selection and how to detect an error in tooling. I think all of this can be explained in one day but not learned.
Our cnc operator is expected to do almost exactly what Larry has described. This includes a working knowledge of what materials are and where they are stored. (Our operator unloads all of the trucks that come in and receives a copy of our purchase orders so new materials are tagged by job accordingly.) He is responsible for pulling and loading all of his own material, insuring that all parts are of good quality to go to the edge banding station after running his programs. If problems arise, he is able to fix or single out parts based off of the g-code he was given. To get to this point though, your operator must have a good working relationship with your programmers.
We are lucky enough that everyone one of our programmers at one point has run our cnc as well. So there is a strong machining side to our design and programming office as well. We understand how certain materials behave so to say.
The quality of cut some posters are asking about is called chip load. This helps with not only cut quality, but tool life as well. There are many formulas for it according to each tooling company. But a generic formula would be Chip Load=Feed Rate/(RPM*Flute Quantity). There are many factors that account into this. Tool diameter, type of material being cut (MDF, Particle Board, Hard or Soft Plastic, Metals, Solid Surface, etc.). Ask your tool rep and they should be able to get you in the ball park to get a good quality cut.
If there is a CNC panel router, then it needs to be running at least 8 hours a day most of the time to make it worthwhile, with all the costs connected to it. Which means, a dedicated operator to run it. Normally a seasoned machinest that can handle taking care of a 100 g machine. Next, a dedicated draftsman/programmer that spends 8 hours a day on Cabinetvision doing the drawings, which is tied closely to making CNC code for cabinets and counters ect. Also, autocad for whatever cabinetvision cannot do, like curved walls, complex shapes ect. and the whatever cnc code software that reads the autocad geometry. Years ago, I was one of these guys, and I never operated the CNC router, but did project management work.