Tips to prevent your CNC machine from standing idle

A machine that is producing generates money. A machine that is standing still costs money. In the field of machining, CNC machines often do not reach their full production potential. For this reason, we bring you 10 tips to keep your CNC machines from standing still.

Standardize your raw materials

By standardizing your raw materials, you can make multiple product series from the same formatted material. Simply put, it means that more processing can be done. Since operators can use the same jigs, product changeovers are faster. This results in less down time.

Equip CNC machines with a zero-point clamping system

If the machining table has a zero-point clamping system, the operator can quickly change the fixture. An added benefit is that a new fixture can be prepared while the CNC machine is machining. With the zero-point clamping system on the machining table, we are now ready for automatic fixture change.


Providing automation solutions for CNC machines will allow you to earn more spindle time. Automation can be initiated at various levels. The simplest form is bar feed on a lathe. The next step is pallet and / or product loading.

Will you choose single-batch or multi-batch automation?

Single-batch automation is the automation of a single product series. Instead of continuous production, simply one unique product in one program is loaded into the CNC machine through product loading. A level above that is multi-batch automation. It is the automation of multiple product series in one continuous process. It combines product loading with automatic machine clamping or changing of pallets with clamped products on top. This makes it possible to produce multiple product formats and product series 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The biggest step towards reducing downtime is taken with multi-batch automation. It is important that the processing table is equipped with the correct connections to control the machine clamps.

Choose one gripper that can handle everything

It is good to be able to handle a wide variety of products, but if the gripper cannot pick up all sizes, the added value will remain low. Using multiple grippers is one option, but it takes time to change, the range of formats is often still limited, and storage capacity is sacrificed. Another solution, and a better one, is a servo-controlled gripper that is fully automatic for any product size. The setup time is zero seconds and the flexibility is very high.

Continuous production of multiple product jobs

If there is only one CNC program that can be created with automation software, the previous tips are of little use. Continuous production is required, otherwise the CNC machine will stop when the program is finished. Choose software that can continuously edit several different product series.

Focus on automation of single pieces and small batches

Which products give you the highest margins? Often these are single items and small batches. When you implement all the previous tips, you will have automation that is fully set up for this. With automation, you can produce 24/7 and deliver faster because the lead time for products is shorter. Low-capacity “no” sales are a thing of the past. At least until your CNC machine does 160 hours a week and you need to connect another CNC machine to the automation to meet growing customer demand.

Make sure your CNC machine has enough tooling

Simple calculation. The average CNC machine has 60 tools, 40 of which are standard tools. If you are producing more than 5 different product lines with 5 individual tools per line unmanned, you will run into problems. A large tool inventory is an unnecessary luxury. Of course, this can be accommodated by using as many of the same tools as possible in CNC programs during manufacturing. But what happens when a milling cutter breaks down? Do you lose production and the CNC machine stands still? Tip 9 offers a solution.

Control the downtime of your tools

Solution? Managing tool life. The robot controls the entire machining process, but also calculates exactly what production per cutter is possible. Can the machine’s tools handle the numbers? What will the machine do if it breaks down? The Tool Life Management module handles this smartly and prevents your CNC machine from stopping.