Hurco Conversational Programming

Machine shop owners say that it is hard to find experienced machine operators.  What if you could train someone to run a machine in two days instead of two weeks?  How much would that help? Because of Hurco’s conversational programming, that becomes possible. Moore CNC has done a great job with a video featuring a Hurco VM 20. Most importantly, it allows us to see how easy programming on a conversational machine can be. It is the first part in their Titan building block series: Hurco machines Titan’s 1M . It is definitely worth the time to take a look.

Are You a Machine Guru, or a “Goo” Rue?

Often we ask the machine operator how often he checks his machines lubrication system. The normal reply is that it’s checked every time the alarm goes off in the control prompting his attention. He finds the filthy funnel that everyone uses for everything, he pours the lube (maybe the correct kind) through the filthy funnel and the alarm resets. If this plan is not bad enough we’ve all seen the machine sitting with the funnel either sitting to drain in the machine lube tank, or the funnel is dropped into the five gallon bucket of oil that he poured into the machine. This is trapping grinding dust and shop contaminants into your clean oil.

How your system works:
On most CNC machines that use oil instead of grease a centralized oil system distributes the oil from one pump. The oil can go through several banks of distribution blocks. Oil leaves the pump and goes into the block under pressure. A pressure switch normally looks for a pressure signal. Each of the small injectors can send a measured dose of oil to your ball screws, ways or thrust bearings. These injectors are very sensitive to dirt or contaminants. If the injectors become contaminated they can “stick”. This means the machine sees pressure, but oil is not delivered through that injector. The operator never sees the alarm and does not have to fill the tank as often. He is much more likely to complain about filling it too often instead of less frequently.


The lubrication system on your CNC machine has several built in safeties. Filtration, low lube level and pressure switches are normal on most machine tools.

The lube in the tank can build sediment over time. The tank below is a real example of a machine in production. The sediment will settle to the bottom of the tank and needs to be cleaned periodically.

The sediment below came from this tank. The whole cleaning process took less than thirty minutes.

The filter in this tank was completely packed with this sludge.

Years ago we had a box way machine become contaminated. The operators couldn’t remember the last time he had added oil. The ball screws and the ways were damaged to the point of us recommending replacement of the machine.
The next time you ask about has your operator “checked” his lubrication, take a closer look.

You don’t have to be a lube “Goo”rue

Every machine is different, so check your manual. It takes less than 30 minutes to increase the life and productivity of your machine and you will be a lube guru.

Their Hook, His Line And My sinker

I had been transferred to a new area early in my career and, in order to feel like part of the community, I became involved with the Moose club among other clubs that focused on community projects like fundraisers, etc. In the process, I met a group of employees that worked for a large local company and I fit in very well with them. It so happened that a large development project landed in this company and a complete tool room was to be added.  This was exciting to me, of course, because I was to have the opportunity to bid the projects and with my contacts felt I was in the best position for a successful bid. (I almost counted it.)  I delivered the quotes to the buyer, a man whom I had met, but didn’t know.  His left-hand comment, “A donation in my top left-hand desk drawer would assure your success of a PO#.”, (still being a virgin in sales) went over my head.  After digesting the comment, it became evident what it meant. Now my honor and integrity were being challenged.  Where do I go with this? I talked to my associates in the company about my encounter. They were appalled and took me to the president of the company.  Long story short, they baited the hook and a trap was set in place. The crook took the bait and used his same line and was promptly discharged. My sinker was that no matter how good I felt about my character and integrity, I didn’t get the order!  That was an awkward and unfortunate situation, however, in 50 years, I’ve only experienced 2 like situations.  In my opinion, that makes for a pretty honorable industry and am proud to be part of it.

Accept Our Move

I received a phone call from a man I didn’t know well, but I admired. He had my style of persona.  He was a tough old bird that I wanted to get close to, but I hadn’t been able.  When he called, of all the things he could have said or asked, he wanted to talk with me about how to modernize his tool room. Wow, what an opportunity!  Not just that I was able to share the products that could help his business, but that I was finally spending time with a tough, surprisingly modern thinker that I had admired for some time.  After much time and thought about what their first step should be, we decided on a small personal sized CNC tool room mill that wouldn’t be too offensive to his aged tool makers.  The time between ordering and delivery was spent selling the idea of this new machine to his tool makers.  Things went pretty well until the machine was delivered and set in place.  Everyone had an opinion, of course, and they were mostly good other than that of one old timer. His comment was, “You guys go ahead. I’ll just stay on the 5 standard mills over there.”  The boss made the most profound comment to him, “Do you have a current resume?  Accept our move to the future, or you are going to need it!  The five standard mills have been traded and are gone” The look on the man’s face was indescribable, but to his credit, he accepted the move that day and it paid off. Today, he is a very strong proponent of CNC capabilities and is a very accomplished operator.  For me, making the sale was great, but to dwell on that would keep me in the past.  The future, I am pleased to say, included that tough old bird of a boss as my close personal and business friend.

The Human Touch

Serving as an apprenticeship in a relatively up-to-date factory with modern equipment, I had been sheltered from the old ways of doing things. I received a call about interest in some new equipment from a company that manufactured bicycles. I pulled up in front of an old, but beautiful, well kept building. I went to the lobby and introduced myself to the receptionist (yes, they still had those then) and she called for a gentleman who came to get me and offered to give me a plant tour. Knowing what an honor that was, I quickly accepted. That was the beginning of my enlightenment. This company was known for its expensive, elite, beautiful bicycles and I was about to see how they made them happen. I’m not sure what I expected to see, but words cannot express my amazement when he led me down stairs to a room with several rows of tables where women were making wheel assemblies – putting spokes in the rims and then adding the tires by hand. The real shocker was seeing the earthen floors and the ceiling with line shafts that powered their machines.

My point is that it was my first encounter of a beautiful mass-produced product done with the most archaic methods. While these beautiful bicycles were not as efficiently produced by humans as they could be by machines – I have to wonder if it wasn’t the human touch that made them the prized possession that people desired.

Lesson Learned

It was the mid to late 1960’s and I was a young toolmaker embarking on a new career in machine sales. I received a call from a company wanting to buy a new punch press. Never having called on the company, this new lead filled me with a mixture of excitement, enthusiasm and fear. I already knew a great deal about presses having been a toolmaker from a company with many punch presses. However, I wanted to make a good impression and be prepared for any question that I might be given. I spent my last half hour in their parking lot studying and memorizing every single spec and feature for the machine that I would be quoting. In I go, armed with volumes of information. I felt confident that I could answer any question he could throw my way. Pete took me into his office and after a few minutes of niceties his first question was one that I couldn’t answer. It stopped me in my tracks. I would never have guessed he would want to know the answer to – What does this press weigh? What I didn’t know is that back then, many machines were purchased based on weight. The lesson wasn’t too costly. It hurt my pride, but I made the sale.

Count the Cost

As I think back, I always remember a new shop owner I knew who suffered with insomnia. He made many attempts to cure his insomnia with drugs, reading, counting sheep, music, etc. and none of them worked. It so happened that his new shop was in his basement below his bedroom and he could hear noises from the shop at night. One evening he had a job running that would cut off motor bell ends for which he got $0.25 each. As these parts dropped off the lathe in a box, they did so with a kind of rhythm. He started counting $0.25, $0.50, $0.75…It worked!  His insomnia was cured.