Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. If your CNC machine breaks down, it’s bound to happen at the most inconvenient time—when you’re working on your tightest deadline with your most important client. This is why preventative maintenance is imperative. If you aren’t the one deciding when to inspect and clean your machine, Murphy’s Law will decide for you. However, with a proactive maintenance plan, you can avoid a lot of potential pitfalls and work stoppages. Diversified Machine Systems (DMS) has been manufacturing and maintaining CNC machines for over 15 years, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. Our experience tells us that the most effective maintenance plan is two-fold, incorporating an approach that is both predictive and preventative. This practice is so important that we dedicated an entire blog to it—read here.
Preventative maintenance is periodic, ongoing maintenance to extend the lifetime of the machine and to catch potential issues before they become big problems. It involves observation, cleaning, lubrication, and inspection.
Observation is the first and most important factor in preventative maintenance. A machine operator can catch a lot of problems simply by becoming familiar with the sounds and sights of their machine. Take the time to listen and look, so you’ll understand the parameters of normal equipment functioning. Even though a machine may not give an error message, it’s dangerous to assume there’s nothing wrong.
Acquaint yourself with the most common machine maintenance issues. Keep an eye on the rubber belts, which can wear out over time. Compressed air is also a big factor, as the air needs to be kept dry. DMS machines include a water separator, and the glass jars can become full of water and thus no longer be effective. Knowing exactly how your machine functions will set you up for long-term success.
However, signs may not always be visible to the naked eye. If you’ve hit an emergency stop, you can assume it will have a significant effect on the machine. It may be subtly out of alignment, and certain parts may be damaged. You can also tell a lot about a machine by observing the product it produces. Slight inconsistencies and chatter marks may indicate that the machine is out of alignment or that the tooling needs to be evaluated.
After familiarizing yourself with the CNC router, the other important factors are cleanliness and lubrication when it comes to extending a machine’s longevity. A machine owner is responsible for keeping the equipment clean and lubed. It’s important to take special care when cutting coarse materials such as carbon fibers, fiber glass, and silicon carbide. These kinds of aggressive materials can wear the machine down over time.
Operators should keep their table surface clean and wipe down the precision rails. The ball screws, which create the linear motion of the machine, should also be cleaned. Many people forget this crucial detail because ball screws are often hidden from view. Additionally, periodically vacuuming all the electrical components is important to prevent overheating.
When it comes to lubrication, many people choose to take advantage of the DMS auto-lube pump. This pump automatically adds oil to machine parts at specified times. In addition to this option, we recommend that you treat all the rails, by wiping them down with an oil-soaked rag.
Finally, regular inspections are extremely beneficial. In the same way that a physical check-up prevents illness and lengthens a person’s life, periodic inspections will catch issues with a machine before they occur. Our DMS team has expert knowledge of CNC machines and can be contracted for regular wellness inspections. DMS-certified technicians go to the customer site and run tests to make sure everything is running smoothly, in order to help prevent future breakdowns or emergency situations. During that time, we can identify parts that need to be replaced and check alignment. Our comprehensive checklist ensures that we don’t miss a thing.
All of this works to eliminate downtime. Every machine will need periodic breaks, but the key is to set your own schedule, rather than suffering a terrible surprise. Most DMS machines can run three shifts, 365 days a year, if they are properly maintained.
With these four steps—observation, cleanliness, lubrication, and inspection—your preventative maintenance will be exponentially more effective. When combined with a strong predictive maintenance plan, your CNC router can be relied upon to help you meet your production goals.
If you would like to discuss predictive maintenance on your DMS CNC router, or any other upkeep questions, please contact our USA-based Service Team at 855-266-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org today.