We find many customers who have CNC equipment do not use their equipment to it's fullest capability. Just recently I had a customer with a Shoda router with a Fanuc control. This customer was writing his CNC programs by hand on the operator panel and then copying it to a spiral notebook by hand, because the control only had enough memory to hold half a dozen programs.
I asked him if he'd considered using DNC, and he'd never heard of it.
DNC stands for Distributed Numerical Control, and basically it's a remote storage center for CNC programs. Normally, the way it is configured, you have a PC running a DNC server package (WinDNC is a favorite of ours) and a serial cable connection back to the CNC controller on the machine.
Once you have it configured, the operator can call up any one of hundreds (or thousands) of programs that are stored on the computer, and the computer streams the program back to the CNC control via the serial cable. no more writing it by hand on the control, with it's clunky interface.
We set this customer up with a DNC server, and tied it into their LAN so that the developers can write the program on their computer, and transfer it to the DNC server over the ethernet network. then all the operator has to do when he gets an order is call the correct program out to the CNC and run it.
It saves massive amounts of time where the operator was recreating or reentering a program by hand (taking 15 minutes or more) when the DNC transfer is over in seconds. Over time that builds up to a definate improvement in production times and quantity of product produced per day.
You can also connect multiple machines to a single DNC server. Theoretically, you can run an entire factory floor off the same server, as long as you have enough serial ports to make the connections. Products like RocketPort add extra serial ports to the server. I've set up DNC servers to connect to over two dozen machines at once, with all of the CNC machines on the factory floor storing all their programs in a central location that can be easily backed up.
New technology allows many new ideas built on this subject. Serial tunnelling over TCP/IP allows you to connect to a DNC server that is offsite somewhere else on the LAN or the Internet, and wireless radio to serial devices do away with the clutter of cables running over the factory floor.
There are many, many things you can do with this technology. Give us a call and we'll discuss a solution for you.