Product Announcement from ShopBot Tools, Inc.

CNC Routers for Manufacturing-Image

ShopBots for Manufacturing: Distributed Parallel Processing

In wood, plastic, metal and composite manufacturing there is often a need to simultaneously produce varied components needed for finished products. While a centralized CNC center offers brute machining capabilities, a center can also create bottlenecks in such manufacturing operations as many parts compete for its capacity though only a few require its full capabilities. With a CNC center, scheduling part flow can be difficult, inventories can grow, and downtime is disruptive to production schedules and can result in missed deliveries.

A productive alternative approach for leveraging CNC automation in manufacturing utilizes distributed parallel processing operations, with multiple channels of flow through multiple CNC workstations or cells. The benefits of this approach include better product flow, lower inventories, higher throughput, less material handling and an overall better ROI. Succeeding with this approach requires an array of CNC tools with relatively high production capacities but with flexibility and costs low enough to make the array competitive with the traditional machining center. ShopBot's new PRSalpha CNC routers offer the speed and closed-loop performance necessary for production line efficiency with costs approximately 1/10th of traditional CNC machining centers.

Production Flow

Can a ShopBot do everything a machining center can do? No, a ShopBot does not have the stiffness and rigidity of a machine weighing many tons. There will be certain aggressive machining operations for which a tool like a ShopBot will not hold as high a tolerance as the heavy machine; however, operations requiring high-end capabilities are typically a small percentage of the operations for which CNC routers are used. For tasks such as panel processing, drilling or 3d carving, a ShopBot will provide the performance and cut quality of tools five to 10 times as expensive. This performance/price ratio is where the leverage of parallel processing operations comes into play to improve the bottom line.

One way to think about this approach to CNC operations is to compare it to the relationship between mainframe computers and personal computers (PCs). Yes, there were certain tasks and functions appropriate for the capabilities of large mainframe computers, for which they are still used; however, it has been the raw distributed capacity of the workstation PC that brought the real power of computers to business and manufacturing processes. In a similar manner, distributed CNC workstations leverage automation across operations to accomplish lean manufacturing. Distributed CNC is now an achievable reality because of the remarkable production speeds of the new ShopBot PRTalpha tools coupled with their low price point. ShopBots offer a right-sized, flexible solution for many production situations.

An array of ShopBot CNCs can be integrated into a network to monitor or control workflow from the shop floor or the front office. With distributed processing, when one of your ShopBots is being reconfigured for a new task or being maintained, it does not take the others out of operation. When a process on your line requires increased capacity, you can shift tasks to additional units in the array. When production changes occur, parts of your ShopBot array can be reconfigured and redeployed as needed (no riggers or technicians are required to move and re-start a ShopBot). Distributed CNC processing gives you flexibility, agility and redundancy.

If you are not yet familiar with ShopBots, you will discover as others already have, that they are remarkable tools in many ways. ShopBots were designed to be simple and straightforward. With a small amount of training, your people will understand, and be ready to operate and maintain them. No high-level technician is required to run a ShopBot, and expensive service calls will not be needed. ShopBots run from industry-standard G-code or from ShopBot PartFile code, one of the easiest to read CNC languages for operators on the shop floor (ShopBot PartFile code is output by all major CAM programs; e.g. MasterCAM, CabinetVision, VisualMill, DelCam/ArtCam, most signage programs, etc.). ShopBot's Windows-based, five-axis Control System Software is open architecture and highly programmable, and can be customized for a wide range of production system needs. Over the last eight years, ShopBot has become the largest producer of affordable CNC routers simply because our tools have been reliably delivering product in commercial shops around the world…day in, day out. Our fast, affordable, reliable PRSalpha CNCs are ready for your production line.

We will help you design a parallel array of networked ShopBot CNCs for your operation. ShopBots can be fitted with high frequency spindles, double Z-axes, tool-changers, pneumatic drills, rotary indexers and vacuum hold-down systems. Choose from one of our standard sizes and configurations or let us custom design a tool to fit your needs. The exact configuration of these components can be selected for the needs of your operations and to achieve the best economy for your production process. We provide attractive shipping, installation and training arrangements, and if desired can arrange quarterly support visits to your facility for refresher trainings, maintenance oversight and upgrades to your distributed array of ShopBots.

To find out if distributed parallel processing is an option for you, contact one of ShopBot's Manufacturing Site Team members. We look forward to working with you to develop a high-flow production solution for your operation.

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