CNC’s future looks bright

Siemens expands its Technical Application Center for enhanced training opportunities

By Mike Bacidore, editor in chief

Sometimes, the future is right in front of your eyes. In early August, I visited Siemens’ facility in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, where it was celebrating the expansion of its Technical Application Center (TAC), which offers a broad range of training options for its Sinumerik CNCs.

The past few years have seen extreme advances in machine automation. From improved production analytics, thanks to the growth of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), to the increased flexibility of modular machine design, thanks largely to the explosion of robot integration, manufacturing is changing. Compound all of that with factory digitalization, augmented-reality applications and 3D-printing capabilities, and it’s no wonder that careers in industry are often changing faster than semester-based educational institutions can keep up with.

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Mechatronics programs are looking to add CNC training because of its interaction with PLCs.

To keep current, employees and future workers need classroom training, online instructor-led training and online self-paced training, such as what’s offered at the Siemens TAC. For example, as robot integration increases, mechatronics programs are looking to add CNC training because of its interaction with PLCs.

Training is more important than ever to keep skills up to date with the newest industrial technologies. Operating since 2009, the 3,150-sq-ft Siemens TAC provides an oasis of training for CNC machining knowledge. Its Machine Lab now features three milling machines and one turning center for hands-on learning, plus a Kuka robotic center, and NX-CAM training station. And two classroom settings provide students with instructor-led, hands-on training, using SinuTrain software and Sinumerik CNC simulators.

“Manufacturers are continuously looking for ways to train their employees on evolving CNC technologies as they transition to digital factories,” said Sascha Fischer, segment manager, Siemens Motion Control, Machine Tool Business. “Hands-on training and virtual programs like these are extremely important. We’re excited to offer machine-tool users a more expansive program to develop their employees.”

Besides the physical TAC, a virtual TAC is available to individuals looking to expand their CNC knowledge. Open to anyone, the virtual classroom is available at no cost, allowing individuals to view webinars online. Using the SinuTrain CNC simulation software, viewers will learn how to maximize investments in Sinumerik. Live training webinars are presented monthly by Sinumerik experts, covering a range of topics, techniques and applications, including milling and turning, general operations, maintenance and service.