Machine maintenance is about more than preventing breakdowns. It’s also about maximizing repeatability and precision so you don’t waste material and your shop can be relied on for high-quality work.

Maintenance is usually viewed as an expense. It should be seen as an investment. By putting time and money into caring for a machine tool you can extend its life and reduce variability in the parts machined. Here’s what to do.

Keep it Clean

A regular wipe-down to remove chips and other cutting residue protects wipers and seals from damage. It reduces the incidence of debris getting under way covers and into bearings, and it makes it easier to see any fluid leaks.

Filters are a key element in maintaining cleanliness. These are used on the various fluid systems and on the controls cabinet and should be replaced at least as often as recommended by the manufacturer.

Windows should be cleaned regularly too. These let operators see in to verify operations are progressing as they should, or alternatively, to check on the source of any unusual noises!

Cleaning Manufacturing Equipment

Keep it Cool

Electronic components hate elevated temperatures so make sure the controls cabinet is being cooled effectively. When a machine has a cooling system, ensure it performs properly by cleaning out reservoirs, changing filters and checking for satisfactory pump operation.

Maintain Fluids

Check lubricating oil and hydraulic fluid levels regularly and top up as needed. Replace fluid as recommended by the machine manufacturer and always use the correct viscosity.

Check and Adjust Alignments and Runouts

Heavy use leads to wear in slideways, journals and bearings. This increases positioning variability which makes it harder to maintain tight tolerances and may also lead to chatter in metal cutting.

Alignment and runout problems often need a specialist to measure, diagnose and resolve, although tools like the ball bar have made it easier for shops to do this themselves. Most machine tools incorporate gib strips in slideways. These are for taking up excess “play” but need careful adjustment to avoid increasing wear rates.

maintenance cnc machines

Follow Manufacturer Recommendations

A machine tool that performs at a high level and lasts many years with minimal problems reflects well on its manufacturer. To achieve this, most provide extensive maintenance guides. Download the maintenance checklists available from companies like Okuma and follow their recommendations.

Invest in Your Machine Tools

Regular maintenance of well-used machine tools pays for itself many times over. By preventing, or at least reducing the frequency of, breakdowns will help you maintain production, meet delivery promises and avoid paying overtime to catch up.

A second benefit is better quality. Poorly maintained machine tools exhibit more wear which leads to alignment issues and makes it harder to achieve tight tolerances. That will almost certainly increase scrap and probably lead to customer complaints.

Third, a well-maintained machine tool lasts longer and holds its value better. Those factors can have a big impact on the prices you need to charge for your work.

Machine Tool and Manufacturing Equipment Specialists At The Equipment Hub we know machine tools. We help businesses buy the machining and fabricating equipment they need, and we help those with surplus items turn them into cash. Ask what we can do for you.

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