The Index Control C200-4D SL is based on the Siemens Sinumerik S840D solution line, and then enhanced by INDEX with user-friendly features. Specially developed cycles simplify even the most complex machining operations, supporting multi-axis milling and turning operations and providing maximum functional reliability.
On a recent visit to Task Force Tips (TFT), a maker of fire suppression nozzles, we talked with Cory Mack, Production Supervisor, who commented, “There are so many features of the Siemens control that when tied to Esprit software, it became the easiest machine to setup of all the mill-turns. Our programmer has told us that when he looks at a part that he does not think will run faster on the INDEX machines, he finds that the machine often ends up cutting the time in half. When he sees a job that is well-suited, it can cut the time by as much as 70 percent.
During our visit we also talked with Brandon Marcotte, R300 operator and programmer, who championed the machines. An experienced INDEX C machine operator, Brandon is a young man that came to TFT with an interest in machining and is now operating C series automatic lathes, as well as the R300’s.
“Learning programming to machine the Blitzfire XX600 (aluminum nozzle body part) was not difficult,” Brandon said. “We split the program into two-part simultaneous with the R300 to get the time to 14 minutes. The robot with 10 kg capacity loads one part at a time, taking finished part off while the machine internally transfers the part from one side to the other. Seems like a big animal, but it was not really.”
According to Brandon, “The biggest challenge programming the INDEX machine is balancing the work load between the two heads so we could get the most benefit out of the machines — changing fixtures, for example. I didn’t feel the programming was too much of a challenge – just two milling heads on spindles. We were familiar with the control. We have used both Siemens and Fanuc, and in our experience, the Siemens is quicker and more advanced without over-complicating the process.
“We got the INDEX Virtual Machine simulation software before we got the R300; we installed it on my computer so that I could work with the fully simulated machine before it even got here. And we could write posts for the machine before it arrived. So we knew what we were posting out of the CAM software would not alarm-out the machine.”
The INDEX VirtualLine software packages make the new turning/milling center efficient to operate right from the very first workpiece. VirtualLine guides the NC programmer and operator to the right solution for the machining task – both on the PC during the preparation stage and directly at the machine in the factory. With the 3D simulation of the INDEX Virtual Machine, machining programs can be created, verified, and optimized on the PC. The optional CNC Programming Studio provides advanced support for programming and operating the INDEX R300.
“VM made it one of the smoothest machine installations we’ve ever had, and because the VM is specific to the machine, it is fully reliable. It is the machine control itself, unlike other general programming simulation software,” Brandon pointed out.
“All this capability has put us very far ahead in machining capacity, the ability to do more,” said Production Supervisor Cory Mack.
“It’s not that we bought a ton of new machines, it’s that we bought the right machines. “
It started with Chairman and CEO Stewart McMillan’s vision of what the company could do with the right machines.
At TFT, the INDEX machines actually help conserve valuable capital dollars for the company and permit it to turn out very high quality parts in short cycles, resulting in lower per-piece costs, and helping them stay ahead of the competition.