Slow-Opening CNC Program Files

CNC owners troubleshoot a case of excessive lag time when opening program files. January 14, 2008

When I try to load a program in PC-BELEG, it takes at least a minute to open the MP4 directory. Why is it taking so long? When I open a file from the same directory in WoodWOP on the same machine, it opens instantaneously. How can this be improved or fixed? Our IT people have no idea why this is happening.

Machine: BAZ322/60/K
Year: 2005

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor K:
We have the same problem. It was okay before, but the more files we get, the longer it takes. The screen to select the files has a lot more info to load than the normal open screens.

I asked Stiles if we could put the files in multiple directories to speed the process, and all they said was that I could try, but they were not sure what would happen. I have not tried it yet.

From contributor M:
I cannot say with certainty, but this sounds very similar to the same problem Busellato used to have. The older PTP400 software used an Index file to track all of the programs that were loaded in a given location. Each time you tried to access a file (be it loading a new one or calling up an existing one), it would read the index file from the top. That meant that if the file you were trying to access was at the end of the list, you would have to wait for it to read all the way through the index file. At the time when I was experiencing this, it was on an old IBM PC with an 8 bit processor clocking at 5 MHz and 640k of ram... So yes, it was incredibly slow. I was told that it could not be split into multiple directories, but I found a way to do it and it was not terribly difficult. The caveat here is that if your software is similar, you stand a good chance of being able to do the same thing and reap the benefits of having much faster access to your files.

From contributor N:
When you open the file in PC Beleg the program is most likely being generated. The WoodWOP program is only a picture, but when it is assigned to a location in the PC Beleg, the machine is set to generate it. So it is creating all the G code and M Code for the machine to operate. Depending on the program, this can take some time. If you generate the program using NC generate in WoodWOP does it take about the same time?

From contributor C:
We've had our Homag BOF for a little over 3 years now. I found that the more programs I put out on the machine, the longer it took to open file list when loading a program. Since our programs are mainly one offs, I just created a sub-folder on the machine in the MP4 folder. I regularly move old files into that folder. That seems to greatly speed up the time it takes to get the file list, and the files are still out there if we need to bring up an old program.

From contributor K:
Contributor C, can you open the files in the sub-folder from the Beleg (assignment) screen and generate the program with no problem, or do you have to put them back into the mp4 folder? Stiles basically told me that I had to try this at my own risk and would not guarantee the outcome would be safe.

My main problem is we have at least 5,000 files on our machines and need to keep most of them for several years while we constantly add more every day.

Contributor K, using nc-generate in WoodWOP has no effect on the speed to open a file from the assignment screen (I have tried it). The problem is that it pulls all of the properties of the files with it, including the part size, file size, creation date, etc. You can change the view so you don't see all of the properties, but they are still there.

From contributor C:
Honestly, I can't say. Typically if there's a program that the operator needs, I go in and move it back into the MP4 folder. I can't recall trying to load it from the other folder, although I can't see why it would be an issue. The main reason that I do it is because our operator isn't very computer savvy and wouldn't really know where/how to find it.

From contributor K:
Thanks. I will buck up and create multiple directories on one of our machines in the mp4 folder tomorrow and see what happens. I have wanted to do this anyway! I was a little leery because of what they said, plus they recommend all files go in the mp4 folder.

I can't believe more people have not said anything about this, but how many of us have that many programs on one machine?

From contributor J:
My mp4 folder has hundreds of sub-directories containing thousands of files. Finding and opening files on the assignment screen takes seconds. Weíve been adding files every day for almost 3 years and I havenít noticed any loss of speed. Try restructuring your mp4 directory. I use this format - mp4\contractor\job\room\.mpr_file

From the original questioner:
Wow, I really must have hit on a topic that has plagued many people. I had 10 different folders for the different product lines we offer. I have around 10000 programs. This was slow before, but I implemented barcode scanning and because our IT people, for whatever reason, can not set up directory/program barcodes on the orders, I had to take all the files from the different directories and put them all in MPR. Even before I setup bar-coding, I have instructed our operators to use the Woodscan software, as it is instantaneous when loading a program and they can type in directory/program without even having a barcode scanner.

There is only one directory I have left on the machine, which is a specials directory, and because there is no set coding structure, other than a sub folder with the job number, we have to open the files from the PC-BELEG, which now takes about a minute to open. Thanks for the responses - I hope this will feed back to Homag.

From contributor L:
We have a BOF, and started to save all files on our networked server. That way we don't need hundreds or thousands of programs on the controller. I can also generate programs here in the office and the machine doesn't need to be on. Plus, our server is backed up everyday so if anything catastrophic happens to the CNC, we are not at the mercy of the last backup we did at the machine.

From the original questioner:
Generating the program is not the cause of the problem. It's clicking on Insert in PC-BELEG and opening the MP4 directory that takes a long time. I have a backup of all programs on the office PC we use to program and also on the network. What does that have to do with the issue at hand?

From contributor L:
Well, we are talking about moving and saving files all over the place on the CNC C drive, aren't we? If you eliminate most all of the programs, you don't need to keep moving things around. The controller automatically starts up on its own C drive, so it's not looking at all the files on the server. It's about reducing the MP4 directory.

From contributor K:
Why would you generate a program from the office when the machine will generate it when the file is loaded? Why is that an advantage? Sounds like a waste of time. I also have all of my files on the network but I do not want the operators to have access to them. I don't believe they will load any faster from the network than they will from the machine's drive. We still will need sub-folders.

From contributor L:
I should have been more specific and I apologize. I generate MPR files from AlphaCAM files, and save the MPR on the server. The operator opens the file through WoodWOP and generates it when it's run. That way nothing is really kept on the controller itself.

From contributor J:
Does your machine run on XP embedded? If your file directory is set up properly in mp4 (which it must be, as it's so simple), maybe a defrag of the drive would help. Sounds like the computer is just slow.

From the original questioner:
Contributor J, please read my initial question. In it I state the following:

"When I open a file from the same directory in WoodWOP on the same machine, it opens instantaneously."

This means that it is not a simple defrag issue and it is specific to the PC-BELEG only.

From contributor E:
Not sure what PC-BELEG is, but I can relate. I have a BP120 with the "old" operating system - machine is 6 years old. I use components in WoodWOP rather extensively and if I have them stored on the network, it takes 30 seconds or more for them to load into a program. If I have them on my local machine, they load instantly. Stiles has been no help with me in this matter. I would be interested in speeding this process up as well.

From the original questioner:
If you want speed, you should get the Woodscan software from Homag for barcode reading. Even if you don't have a barcode scanner you can type in the code if itís in the MP4 folder or even dir/code or dir/dir/code, etc. The program loading is instantaneous. I'm not sure if itís available for your machine, but my operators love it. PC-BELEG is an application used to select origins and load programs to the selected position on the machine. We have four possible positions on one BAZ and 6 on the other.

From contributor I:
We have a Homag BOF 611 and have had similar problems. We store all of our files on our server and have a mapped drive from the machine, even though we don't have many files in the MP4 folder, we still have the same issue when opening files from any folder with many files or with extremely large files. (~1-4MB) I'm not sure exactly what the problem is, but this is what we've found.

In PC-BELEG on the view menu, make sure there is a check by the "show all contours" option. Also in WoodWop on the view menu, make sure the "All contours" option is checked. Make sure the option is checked in both programs.

Another possible solution. I've found that when the first file in the folder is rather large, i.e. thousands of lines, as in 3D machining or engraving, then PC-BELEG is trying to give you a preview of that file when it displays the open file window.

From contributor W:
Several years ago, I was deeply involved in the purchase of a Weeke 350 S2 for a small division of our company. Programming was simple in those days. I wrote the first few hundred standard programs, all parametric, in an office workstation and saved them all to a network directory that the machine's WoodWOP was mapped to. Since then, I have gone back to my regular job at our main facility, and the operator has taken care of most of the programming at the machine. Occasionally I would get called back to help with some sort of odd custom program. My PC in that office would readily open a WoodWOP file the operator had created and he opened those I had created everyday. Nearly all these programs had components and block macros in them. Recently, production requirements have forced us to hire a programmer for the office workstation and we have a problem. When he opens a WoodWOP file on his PC that was created on the Weeke's PC, the block macros and components are highlighted in red and they can't be accessed. The same thing happens on the Weeke with a WoodWOP file that is created on this new PC workstation. All are running the same version of WoodWOP. How do I correct this?

From contributor I:

Have you tried comparing the files from both computers in Notepad? That might give you a clue about what's different, maybe not how to solve it.