PowerSource Technology

A Serious Business Problem

Your future employees? They're going to need all the help you can give them.

Let's face facts.  Every mold manufacturer in the U.S. is having problems finding qualified people to join their manufacturing team. We lost at least one generation of future machinists. This lost generation viewed a career in manufacturing as a dirty, low-paying, unfulfilling career that would be nothing but a dead-end (boy where they wrong).  Stack that on top of the woes we see in our public school system and the dearth of vocational training programs and it all adds up to the perfect storm.  These problems and perceptions will take a long time to repair. With smart policy and innovative private & public collaborative apprentice programs we can begin to move the needle to fill this talent void.

But it is what it is so we need to deal with the current situation because there is no other short-term option.

That's where knowledge-based NC programming comes in. Our technology can help you make up for what these new hires are not going to know or understand. Just about anybody you hire these days fresh out of school is going to require an investment of your time and the the time of others on your team to work with them in order to get them acclimated to the high-tech world of manufacturing. Our software can help this process along by embedding in it your rules and standards for how to go about machining a particular job. You need these new hires to succeed because ultimately your long term success depends on them becoming effective and productive members of your team that you feel 100% confident in their abilities.

The Benefits of Knowledge-Based Programming

  • Reduce the opportunity for human error. Skill-based systems are largely dependent on the individual's skill, knowledge and experience with the software. You can not be certain that every operator will have this knowledge and skill to avoid improper use of the software or inadvertently entering a bad value for a key parameter. The PowerSource system virtually eliminates human error associated with skill-based programming systems. This means your staff spends less time editing cutter paths (and welding).

  • Enhance the capability of less experienced or skilled operators. Because you pre-program rules and settings into the knowledge base, shop users with less experience automatically benefit because the system will suggest the right machining tactics.

  • Enforce shop rules and conventions. With Prospector you can be sure that machinists and operators are following your shop rules and conventions. With PowerSource, you have the master controls for all Prospector shop floor programming systems. By establishing plant-wide system database defaults that represent your standards, you can lock these setting and rules such that they can not be countermanded by the operators on the floor.

  • Tailor each system to adapt to machine tool characteristics. Local PowerSource databases can be programmed for specific machine tools to get the most productivity out of your equipment. For example, rules and settings for your roughing machine can be setup separate from the rules for your high-speed finishing machine. This ensures that machines are being programmed according to their capabilities and and in a manner that maximizes their efficiency.

  • Address machining of all components of a job. The flexible PowerSource database lets you group rules according to their intended application. This means that when programming an electrode, the system automatically calls up the proper rules for electrode machining. Similarly different rules, feeds and speeds may be established when cutting steel vs. aluminum. You decide what makes the most sense for your shop.

  • Reduced variability and consistent high quality of workmanship. PowerSource makes sure everyone is programming the same types of jobs in a consistent manner. This ensures that from user to user, job to job, you are producing consistent results that translate into on-time delivery of high quality tools. No more surprises.

  • Reduce or eliminate reliance on "experts". Relying on skill-based programming systems means you must recruit specialists who understand that system in-depth to produce results. Why be held hostage to the "computer gurus" to do your NC programming? With Prospector, anyone can program and achieve the same results. The system is so easy to learn, in just a couple of days new operators are up and running.

With Prospector on the job it's like having your best machinist constantly coaching every operator. Knowledge-based programming helps eliminates possibilities of human error and reduces variability. From user to user, job to job, your shop is producing consistent results with high quality workmanship and on-time delivery. No more surprises. PowerSource Technology makes sure things are done right the first time and every time.

PowerSource - The Brains Behind Knowledge-Based Shop Floor Programming

PowerSource is the ingenious technology that powers Prospector to suggest industry best practices and enforce shop rules. The dynamic rules based engine continually monitors current part and machining conditions to:

  • Suggest the most appropriate machining strategy.

  • Suggest tool type, size and length.

  • Recommend cutting and plunge feed rate and spindle speed based on material.

  • Recommend machining parameters such as depth of cut, step-over and style.

  • Automate the roughing process by automatically creating all the roughing programs according to your rules, standards and preferences.

  • Automate hole making operations using feature-based machining to produce a machining sequence with all the tools and operations needed.

  • And much more....

At every step during the program creation process, Prospector feeds real-time data such as stock condition, machining stage (rough vs. finish), minimum radii, size and depth of area(s) to be machined, to the PowerSource engine. Armed with this information, PowerSource executes rules in the database that to come up with the optimal program and parameters according to your rules.

   PowerSource Insight - Capturing and Reusing Best Practices

PowerSource Insight is the easy to learn, easy to use application program provided with Prospector that allows you to establish your own rules and settings for every scenario you might imagine. Rule sets are segmented into separate configurations for each material type to address specific applications or situations. For example, you can establish different configurations to address:

  • Different machine tools. A high speed machine tool for finishing would likely require different programming techniques than an older machine.

  • Different machining stages. Roughing of mold cores and cavities is typically done on a different machine using different techniques and tooling than semi-finish and finish operations.

  • Different part types. Methods for smaller jobs such as lifters and slides may be quite different than larger jobs.

  • Highly specialized applications. Machining electrodes is an excellent example of a configuration. Fine-tune the recommendations and tooling along with feeds, speeds and techniques that fit the application perfectly.

  • Night shift vs. day shift. Perhaps during days, you may choose more aggressive machining techniques than the night shift.

  • Different users. Every machinist has their own ideas about the best way to tackle a given job. Each can setup their own unique configuration to reflect their preferences.

The architecture of PowerSource provides a high degree of security that lets you set standards for the entire shop. Critical parameters such as tolerances for finishing can be established on a shop-wide basis and locked. By locking key parameters, you ensure that they can never be accidentally changed for any program created on any system in the shop.

   PowerSource Tooling - Managing the Tooling Database

Because tooling is a critical factor to determine proper machining methods, the tooling database for Prospector is integrated into the PowerSource database. The easy to use PowerSource Tooling application program lets you design a custom library of only those tools that are appropriate for every possible machining scenario.

  • All tool types from end mills to boring bars are supported.

  • Define only the tools that are appropriate for each stage of machining.

  • Define only the tools that are appropriate for each stage of machining.

  • Speeds and feeds are associated with each tool for every material type that tool is to be used to machine.

  • Tool station numbers are assigned to each tool to facilitate the use of automatic tool changers.

  • Cutter compensation (length and radial) can be assigned on a per-tool basis.

  • Model components of an entire tool assembly in the database.

In addition to tooling, tool assembly components can be modeled and stored in the database. When tool assemblies are used, the entire assembly is automatically checked for possible collisions with stock.