Overview of Retrofits
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MACHINE TOOL RETROFIT, REBUILD AND REMANUFACTURE?
At a minimum, a retrofit consists of replacing the machine's control. Retrofits are usually done at the customer's location, thereby saving downtime and transportation cost. Machines that are in good condition are the best candidates for retrofits. Many of the following components can also be replaced or added:
► Axes servomotors and servo drives
► Spindle motor and / or spindle drive
► New electrical cabinet
► Replacement of limit switches
► Re-wire of the machine tool
► New feedback devices such as glass scales
A rebuild on a CNC machine tool usually consists of a retrofit and some mechanical work, but not a complete remanufacture. Repairing or replacing ballscrews is common, as is repairing a specific item on the machine tool. Depending on the extent of work required, rebuilds may be done at the customer's location or offsite at a rebuilders.
A machine remanufacture, includes retrofitting as well as everything required to return the machine to OEM specification or better. This usually involves stripping the machine down to castings, painting, replacing all bearings and rebuilding ball screws, hydraulics, lubrication and coolant systems. Remanufacturing is almost always done off site and usually requires 3-6 months downtime.
To further increase their machine tool's productivity, many companies elect to have additional accessories during a retrofit, rebuild or remanufacture. These can include additional axes to control rotary tables, lasers for tool setting, part probes, or other machine tool accessories to further increase the machine's capability.
WHEN IS A GOOD TIME TO RETROFIT?
Before you need to. Often a customer is aware that the technology and components on their machines are outdated. However, there is a natural tendency to wait until something breaks. While this may be an acceptable philosophy for your lawn mower, the maintenance of your machine tools needs to be approached more strategically. A critical machine breakdown at an inopportune time can seriously damage your production and jeopardize relationships with your customers. Take control and retrofit your machines before they break down. This will provide you the ability to "plan and schedule" the machine downtime needed for the retrofit.
BENEFITS OF RETROFITTING
Benefits that can be realized include but are not limited to:
► Increased uptime - reliability
► Increased production capacity
► Decreased repair costs
► Shorter cycle times
► Reduced scrap
► Increased employee confidence
By retrofitting your machine tools with new controls, motors, drives or machine-enhancing accessories such as probes, rotary tables or specialized software, you can achieve Improved Productivity.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT WHEN CHOOSING A BRAND OF CONTROL TO USE?
► Reliability -
GE Fanuc controls are one of the most reliable controls on the market. Reliability equates to machine up time which equates to the all important “on time product delivery? Don’t choose a control where reliability is questionable.
► Support & replacement parts availability -
No control will run forever, so when they do quit, how quickly can the problem be found and how quickly can parts be obtained? Since GE Fanuc is the number one selling control in the world, there are more companies that support these controls then any other control.
Power and features - Will the control perform the job you intended it to do without your personnel having to jump through hoops? Is the control easy to use? Does it have the features that you may need in the future? GE Fanuc’s controls are the most powerful in the world with capabilities that include different types of offsets, high-speed machining, large quantities of memory and hundreds of additional features.
► Flexibility -
Will the control you purchase today integrate to accessories you may buy tomorrow? We are constantly approached by customers who want their relatively new, non GE Fanuc controls, to be updated with touch probes, tool setting lasers, rotary tables or connected to various in plant systems. Unfortunately many of these controls are either not capable of being upgraded or their manufacturer is not interested in supporting updates to these controls. Many control manufacturers have the attitude that “what you bought is what you get?and no more.
► Standardization -
Many companies wisely choose to standardize on one brand of machine control whenever possible. This minimizes operator, programmer and maintenance training which allows them to concentrate their efforts on one control type, thereby becoming more proficient and achieving better productivity. Since GE Fanuc controls are so widely offered on various machine tools standardizing on GE Fanuc controls is easier than most other controls.