CNC maintenance

How can a small shop deal with CNC equipment breakdown, maintenance and repair? January 31, 2001

How many of you in smaller shops are dealing with machinery maintenance on your CNC equipment? I am not particularly mechanical and our shop cannot afford a full-time maintenance mechanic, so we depend on the machinery distributor for mechanical breakdowns. They are sometimes backed up for weeks, so we are down for substantial amounts of time. What do you do to get through these times?

Forum Responses
Here are three options:

1) Learn this stuff yourself. It's a long learning curve, but with some help, you can get through it.

2) Use the techs from whoever you buy your equipment. This can get very expensive, with plane tickets, rental cars, hotels, and the hourly wage.

3) Find an independent tech in your area to do the work. I have a guy about two hours away that works on my bander.

You should be able to handle most of the preventive maintenance yourself, as that is just a matter of getting your hands a little greasy.

Brian Personett, forum technical advisor

Choose the most mechanically inclined person in your shop who is also detail-oriented and give him or her the tools to do periodic maintenance. Those tools include the maintenance manual and the phone number to the techs. This investment will allow you to deal with most minor issues in house.

Preventive maintenance is probably the most important, after a competent operator. Let the spindles warm up, keep the machine clean, check the lube, and use sharp tools.

I run a 40-man operation. One of my employees expressed an interest in learning CNC maintenance, so I sent him to get certified as a factory-trained CNC technician for our machine. This was the best money I have ever spent. The two or three thousand dollars it cost me to do this has saved me many thousands over the last year in repairs and maintenance. Check with your machine manufacturer and see if they offer a similar course. Make sure the employee you send will be around for awhile.