Data Analytics

How Integrated DNC Systems Boost Manufacturing Efficiency

Published October 12th, 2023

When your DNC system can talk to the rest of your technology, everybody benefits.

Industry 4.0 is swiftly becoming the standard for the modern manufacturing environment. And in order to make the most of the growing streams of available data, the modern manufacturer needs the right software solutions. Every business naturally has different software needs, but some of the biggest or most data-heavy companies can find themselves running multiple layers of management software: an enterprise resource planner, a manufacturing execution system, a project lifecycle manager.

In an ideal world, all of these solutions would talk to each other seamlessly. Manufacturers could manage every element of their business, from top to bottom, without having to jump through lots of hoops—or having items fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, seamless integration isn’t always the case, which is why it can often make sense to look for a software solution that bundles together as many of your business’s critical functions as possible.

One of the essential functions for many manufacturers is DNC: direct, or distributed, numerical control. If your shop runs multiple CNC machines, you’re already at least a little familiar with DNC systems, whether you’re running one or not. Getting NC programs to your CNC machines is, without doubt, a bottleneck, and one that modern networking technology is well suited to solving. But DNC systems have their own hurdles: controlling changes to the NC programs; sharing information with manufacturing data collection and management systems; and integration with wider business systems, like scheduling and ERP.

JobPack software includes DNC capabilities as part of our JobPack AIR solution. If your CNC machine shop is looking for the right software to get the most out of your manufacturing data, here’s why you should consider making sure a DNC system is part of the package.

1. Version control.

Ensuring that your operators have access to the most up-to-date versions of NC programs is crucial to efficiency. But as engineers make changes and improvements to your programs, the newest version isn’t the only one that matters.

That’s where version control comes in. A robust DNC system gives you the tools to track updates to NC programs and make sure the right one is available to any machine that needs it. A system like JobPack’s, which allows you to assign user permissions and roles, offers control over who can access, change, and transfer NC programs. It also captures a full audit trail of which changes were made, when, and by whom. If a program isn’t performing as well as you expected, you can revert to an earlier version while you troubleshoot.

2. Centralization and collaboration.

Maybe the clearest advantage to a DNC system is centralization. You can create a single, authoritative reference point for necessary information, so that everyone knows where to find it, and in the event of conflicts, it’s clear which system to follow. DNC systems allow you to establish the definitive version of your NC programs, and push them to CNC machines quickly and reliably.

When your DNC system is part of a larger whole, the advantages of centralization spread. Your NC programs live side by side with manufacturing data like drawings, toolsheets, and operating procedures. That means engineers can easily find the information they need to compare and edit programs, and operators can double-check their materials and processes. This kind of centralization helps break down information silos across your business, and speeds up communication so that your shop can be at its most efficient.

3. Product consistency and quality.

As a manufacturer, consistent, high-quality production is valuable for its own sake—but it also has a number of downstream impacts on your operational efficiency. When products vary outside of allowable limits, that means more work devoted to checking and measuring them after the fact. Higher variability also means greater potential for rework, and more waste. All of that makes it harder to produce at full capacity, and it also makes you less likely to take on jobs with strict regulations or tight tolerances.

A DNC system is your central repository for NC programs, making sure that everyone is working toward the same standards. And integrated machine monitoring data can offer real-time feedback on your output, letting you assess whether you’re meeting your efficiency and quality goals, and adjusting quickly if needed.

4. Access control and data security.

Paperless systems in general are a boon to data security. Where paper systems rely on physically securing a particular location, digital file storage supports universally applied policies based on identity, role, and permissions. Digital systems are also less vulnerable to the possibility of just plain seeing something you shouldn’t.

This is an advantage for DNC systems as well. Controlling the ability to change NC programs means peace of mind for both engineers and operators. Engineers know their work won’t be interrupted or tampered with, and operators can be confident they’re getting an up-to-date and functional program. Access controls also mean there’s little chance of accidentally modifying a program—and should that happen, version control allows you to revert to the most recent good configuration.

Full audit trails ensure that you can always trace the revision history of a program, which is an advantage if you’re trying to win business in a heavily regulated industry, or to land government contracts. Add in the ability to check your programs against the latest designs and specifications in your manufacturing data, and you’re facing a much lower chance of errors or setbacks related to your NC programming.

Your DNC system should be a team player.

JobPack’s operations management solution is as flexible as you need it to be. Along with robust scheduling, we offer DNC functions, data analytics, machine monitoring, and more. JobPack centralizes your data to give you visibility into your operations, and we think the advantages couldn’t be clearer.

To discuss which JobPack solutions are right for your shop, request a demo today.

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