Renishaw Set and Inspect
Is the hassle associated with on-machine inspection probing finally over?
Typical of many experienced machinists who have lived through the technological integration of CNC machines, I’m skeptical when someone tells me their “solution” makes something “easy.” I’m rarely impressed and tend to be more of a critic than a cheerleader. I’m a realist with a touchy BS meter.
Obviously, an automated way to inspect parts on the machine with inspection probing would free up machinists from the tedious and repetitive task of inspecting parts manually and save money by reducing or eliminating scrapped parts.
But, what’s the upfront cost in both time and money? If “the easy solution” requires that I read a 150-page manual or that I send one of my guys to a training class, then maybe the solution isn’t worth the pain it claims to cure.
If you would have told me there is an inspection probing process that is “easy” and doesn’t require me to know anything about macro programming, I would have said you’re out of your mind (or I might have used more colorful language). Before we get to that, let’s talk about the way it was—history always provides context.
But if you want to jump ahead to the end of the story, be my guest.
The Way It Was…
For those who aren’t “seasoned” machinists, let me explain the historic pain of inspection probing—more specifically, the pain of Macro Programming. There, I said it. The two words that made programmers and machinists shudder and the reason they sang the praises of CAM systems.
Some shops actually had a guy who found ways to short-cut repetitive cycles by creating macros. Production increased significantly. Everyone was happy. Then, that “guy” left for another gig, but the shop kept all of those macros: “We just copy and paste them.”
The Day the Probes Arrive | Why Inspection Probing Gets Shoved to the Side
Shop owners and managers may discover the advantages of using probes for job and/or tool setup to reduce setup times for any job. They purchase them, the equipment is installed, and the software technician arrives to support the shop’s purchase. The technician uses the software to generate the macros and puts them in the machine. The operator asks nervously, “Am I going to need to learn macros to use the probe?” The technician replies, “No, I will create some basic programs in memory you can load and use them.”
The supervisor notices the name on the software package, Inspection Plus, and asks, “Will we be able to do inspections on the machine?”
The software technician answers, “Sure, just print out these 178 pages of the manual and you will learn everything you need to know and be inspecting parts and adjusting offsets in no time.”
Shop Supervisor: “How long will it take?”
Technician: “Do you know anything about macros?”
Shop Supervisor: “We used to have a guy who did. He left. It takes too long to learn all that stuff. Maybe we will just start with setups and learn that later.”
The Hassle Factor | Is the juice worth the squeeze?
Later comes and it never happens. Why? The perceived struggle of learning macros. When the time and hassle is perceived to be greater than the benefit, the inspection probing part of the probing system is pushed to the side. The dream of inspecting parts on the machine and reducing scrap, minimizing or eliminating re-work, and eliminating manual part inspection quickly fades. It’s just too much work, it’s very specialized, and there’s no time to teach all the operators.
Later never comes.
Probing systems are expensive, and the increased production speed they provide for setups is attractive enough to make them desirable to any business owner. Time is money, after all. But the full value is never realized unless they are used to their full capability.
It is possible to measure dimensional sizes of parts cut by a machine tool, using the machine tool, and automatically adjust the work offset or tool wear offset, and re-cut the part to the correct size–all without operator intervention. It has been possible for a long time.
However, it can currently take more time to program this than it does to perform the operation.
Below is an example of a program to give you an idea of the complexity:
This program inspects a bore and if the size is smaller than nominal, it adjusts the tool wear offset for tool 2 to compensate. It continues to measure other features of the part (6 total) and outputs the results. For this operation, you would need to input 27 G65 macro calls with program numbers and variables.
Below is the part with the corresponding features for this program highlighted:
Large Shops vs. Small Shops
Larger shops can afford the resources to accomplish the macro programming required to run these routines, even repeatedly training new personnel if that knowledge leaves the shop due to turnover, workforce reductions, or other reasons. They can’t afford not to. It makes them efficient and profitable.
Obviously, the shop supervisors and owners of smaller shops know that on-machine inspection would make them more efficient, reduce their overhead, increase part quality, and decrease scrap. However, they see the struggle to get there—the large investment of time required to learn routines and develop the process—and ultimately most of the smaller shops decide it’s just not worth it. They settle for the benefit of the probe providing quicker setups and paying for itself over time.
But the probe could have paid for itself faster and more times over if they would/could use it for inspection, too.
Now you can maximize your probing investment WITHOUT learning Macro Programming
Did I read a 170-page manual to create that lengthy, complex macro program with 27 G65 calls? No, I did not. It took me less than 10 minutes to program this. I never had to reference the manual to figure out what any of this code was. Am I a macro programming guru? No.
Anyone can now do this and here is how.
Set It and Forget It | The Path to Renishaw’s Set & Inspect.
Renishaw is a well-known company in machine tool probing and CMM inspection. Inspection Plus is their product. If you struggled with programming these cycles, they were there to help, or maybe a top-notch service organization or builder provided support. Typically, someone in a shop spent hours studying the manual and worked it out for themselves. Personally, I’ve only encountered two shops that could do this and each of them had one person who possessed the knowledge (they were both self-taught).
Hello On-Machine Inspection Probing | Goodbye Macro Programming
Renishaw has taken the next logical step from Inspection Plus to provide a solution for shops who don’t have the time it takes to learn macro programming. They’ve created a program called Set and Inspect that makes it possible for anyone with a part probe to immediately add inspection probing to their process and reap the full financial benefit of probing on a machine tool.
Set and Inspect uses a graphical user interface (GUI) that anyone can learn in 30 minutes or less and immediately create routines such as the above example to increase production and decrease operator intervention, eliminate scrapped parts and re-work times by using inspection probing. The companion program from Renishaw, Reporter, provides data capturing and display for the inspection data.
Takumi USA Partners with Renishaw to integrate Set & Inspect to the Fanuc Control
We at Takumi became aware of Renishaw’s Set & Inspect earlier in 2020 and got a trial version from our Renishaw representative. We immediately realized the benefit and wanted to be the first CNC machine brand with a FANUC control to offer inspection probing that truly requires MINIMAL training and a seamless interface to the FANUC control.
Since Set & Inspect is a Windows program, it couldn’t be loaded directly onto the FANUC control (FANUC has a closed architecture in software engineering speak), but we weren’t deterred! We channeled our disdain for macro programming and made it our goal to find a way to make it work for Takumi customers.
Simplicity is often the most powerful solution. Therefore, the engineers simply added a screen to the control that provides a seamless interface to the FANUC control through the FOCAS 2 feature that is Takumi USA makes standard on all its machines equipped with FANUC controls.
How It Works
The operator can easily program setup probing routines and/or inspection routines and send them to the control’s memory with a single button press. The results are displayed on the same screen during the cycle. These results can be used to develop experience data for tooling, track changes to parts, and monitor adjustments to tool wear to determine when the cutter should be replaced.
The Renishaw Set & Inspect feature on Takumi CNC machines lets you automate a production cycle by inspecting features to determine tool wear and it automatically adjusts the wear offsets as needed. You can define how many parts you want to inspect before adjusting the offsets, what percentage of the error to apply as an adjustment, and/or tell it to stop production if results are out of tolerance.
All without needing to know anything about macro programming.
Happy Days Are Here Again
The Renishaw Set & Inspect is a game-changer, especially for smaller shops that don’t have the time, money, and personnel to struggle with the pain of Macro Programming. Takumi USA is proud to be the first CNC Machine equipped with FANUC controls to bring this revolutionary feature to its customers.