Today’s manufacturers experience ongoing pressure to reduce their resource usage. There are many ways to do that, but one of the most practical is to explore ways to cut energy usage used by tools such as CNC machines. Here are some compelling reasons to consider investing in energy-efficient CNC machines.
Many energy-efficient CNC machines have smart connectivity features that make it easy for users and shop supervisors to track trends that could maximize or hinder the overall workflow. Then, they can become aware of problems earlier and tackle them before they cause major disruptions or slowdowns.
Some such innovations for machine shops show performance data for each workpiece, including energy consumption information. Additionally, connected machines often have condition-monitoring aspects. They indicate the friction values for axles and spindles, the milling housing’s temperature and the vibration statistics for specific bearings.
When you can see real-time statistics, as well as patterns over time, it’s easier to pursue energy-saving measures, plus get warnings about possible impending machine failures. Achieving better visibility is critical because having energy-efficient CNC machines is only one component to consider.
People can also save energy by improving their processes. Doing seemingly simple things like turning auxiliary tools on and off so that they’re only active when needed saves energy. It’s also possible to lock and disconnect motors from power sources when they’re not in use.
Getting more visibility into the overall process allows people to look at more-granular aspects and feel more confident about making strategic changes. Then, they’re more likely to notice better energy efficiency and other gains.
An energy-efficient machine can have numerous upgrades that collectively enhance the workflow. Then, it’s possible to improve several metrics simultaneously, both related and unrelated to energy usage.
Consider the case of recently released machines from Brother. One has a 15-inch screen with touch sensitivity, enabling better productivity compared to earlier CNC machines from the company.
On the energy-efficiency side of things, the new machines have hybrid drive motors that allow the low-inertia spindle motor to accelerate and decelerate more efficiently. That change has caused a 25% reduction in tool-to-tool time. Similarly, the cut-to-cut time has gone down from 1.4 to 1.2 seconds. That improvement allows for a 3-9% cycle time reduction, depending on the complexity and size of the workpiece.
Some of the new machines from Brother are also specially engineered to reduce idle time. Besides saving energy, the cut in idle time helps machine workers make the most of their efforts on every shift.
Learning about the features of energy-efficient CNC machines is an excellent way to make better buying decisions. Today’s machine tool manufacturers understand that saving energy is often a priority of today’s product users, but it’s not their only concern. Keeping track of the specific benefits a new CNC machine offers after utilization begins is also a smart way to justify future investments into upgrades.
A machine shop owner may purchase energy-saving CNC machines as part of a larger effort to get their operations ready for the future, allowing their organization to remain resilient and competitive. Such all-encompassing upgrades typically require understanding and accurately calculating a company’s energy needs.
High-quality transformers are often essential for keeping things running smoothly in the manufacturing sector and numerous other industries. However, selecting the wrong transformer size can ruin equipment and cause additional unwanted outcomes. Knowing a company’s current energy needs enables purchasing the right transformer and having expectations met or exceeded.
When people decide to focus on energy efficiency when upgrading their CNC machines, they may also make other choices that optimize production and get a machine shop ready for the future. For example, some robotics providers sell solutions that allow using collaborative robots during parts of the CNC machining process. Representatives from these companies sell options that people can set up in a few hours at most. They’re ideal for purchasers with little or no experience with robots.
Many national and state leaders are incentivizing manufacturers to make changes to support sustainability. Achieving better energy efficiency is only one part of that, but it’s certainly worth considering. India and Canada are two places where government leaders have previously offered rebate programs for people who decide to purchase energy-efficient CNC machines.
Electric and hybrid vehicles often have regenerative braking technology. It works by turning the kinetic energy associated with applying a brake into electrical energy. That process reduces the amount of energy needed to power the machine.
Some CNC machines have similar features to reduce energy consumption. For example, the energy used to slow down one motor could help accelerate another. Such an approach offers an alternative to friction clutches and brakes.
Before a machine shop leader invests in a CNC machine with regenerative braking capabilities, they should consider tracking the amount of energy currently used. Then, it’ll be easier to gauge the impact the regenerative braking has on energy consumption and overall process improvement.
Having that information also makes it easier to engage in communications with machine tool representatives to give them an idea of a company’s current process and where room for improvement exists. Since getting better energy efficiency is such an ongoing concern, company representatives know how to describe features so that potential customers quickly recognize the advantages.
Purchasing an energy-saving CNC machine is not a decision to reach in haste. You’ll feel more confident about taking that step after thinking about the specific goals you want to achieve and which barriers prevent such outcomes now.
Remember, too, that the maximum payoffs associated with new equipment almost never happen immediately. It takes time for people to get acquainted with new features and operating modes.
Finally, when people opt to get energy-efficient equipment, they can typically treat it as a long-term investment. Most modern CNC machines are made for reliability and longevity, enabling them to offer years of dependable usage. Even if that benefit doesn’t directly translate to better energy efficiency, it can make people more eager to purchase and look forward to long-term advantages.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She has over four years experience covering the industrial sector.
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