Ask the Machine Whisperer?

A “Smart Manufacturing” Blog

6/30/21

Summer is officially here (finally), and so is the next installment of “Ask the Machine Whisperer?”. If your company has any DNC, Machine Monitoring or Data Collection related needs, please give us a call at (414)817-7070. Otherwise, keep sending in the great questions for the Machine Whisperer.

From Josh in Texas: Hi Steve, due to the recent increase of cyberattacks against manufacturers, our IT department is trying to push an across the board change for all of our wirelessly connected devices to WPA-3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access-3), for more secure wireless communications. Have you encountered in the field any other shops making this type of change? If yes, did it create issues for their manufacturing operations?

MW: Hi Josh, I’ve encountered just one shop that implemented this change. Unfortunately, WPA-3 is relatively new and there’s not a whole lot of wireless hardware devices that support WPA-3 yet. In theory the security change makes sense, but this shop quickly discovered that they could no longer communicate wirelessly with most of their devices. Before making this change, I recommend doing the legwork ahead of time to find out exactly which of your wireless devices will support WPA-3?

From Doug in California: Hi Steve, we recently purchased two new Prototrak mills with active Ethernet ports and Windows 7 (embedded) on the controls. We’ve run into issues while trying to connect these machines to our Ethernet network for DNC communications, as our IT rules forbid setting up CNC machines as a mapped drive on our Ethernet Network due to security concerns. How would you connect to these machines for DNC?

MW: Hi Doug, I would first test if the Windows-7 operating system allows for adding a secure file transfer protocol (FTP) onto the control? I’ve experienced that some Windows-7 embedded CNC machines will allow it, while others do not. If that doesn’t work then next I would try to communicate via the USB port through one of our eNET USB DNC units. If there isn’t an active USB port on the control, then your last option is to go with Serial (RS-232) hardware for DNC communications to these Prototraks.

For more “Smart Manufacturing” info please follow our blog, visit our website http://www.enetdnc.com or call us at (414)817-7070.

Ask the Machine Whisperer?

A “Smart Manufacturing” Blog

3/25/21

Spring is finally here, and so is the next installment of “Ask the Machine Whisperer?” US Manufacturing continues to soar into growth territory, as manufacturing activity increased to a three-year high in February amid a surge in new orders. According to a survey from NAM (National Association of Manufacturers) a whopping 88% of Manufacturers are optimistic about their company’s outlook for 2021, representing a 2-year high in manufacturing confidence. On a more concerning note the Microsoft Exchange network breach is just the latest cyberattack challenge Manufacturers are facing, as according to the 2020 State of Encrypted Attacks report, the manufacturing sector is the most targeted industry for malicious browser breaches, comprising 38.6% of attacks! Cyber attackers figure that manufacturing companies make great targets because they cannot afford to have their entire operations shut down for very long, so they are more likely to pay ransom demands.

  1. From Pete in Florida: Hi Steve, we are communicating via Ethernet (FTP) with a machine that has a Fanuc Oi control. Our issue is that we cannot figure out how to drip feed our larger programs into the control?

MW: The only options for drip feeding when you’re using FTP is to either add a data server (which is an option you would be able to purchase from Fanuc or your machine tool dealer), or you could use a memory card to drip-feed if you don’t have to do it very often. If you’re doing a lot of drip-feeding then I would definitely recommend the data server option.

  1. From Sam in Colorado: Hi Steve, we are thinking about converting some of our Serial connected machines to faster Ethernet or USB connections for the CNC program downloads/uploads. We use a lot of sub-programs, is it possible to call for sub-programs through Ethernet or USB connections like we can with Serial? If yes, how is it done?

MW: when you’re using FTP or USB to download your programs you usually have the ability to see the entire file directory.  So selecting any sub-programs usually can be done at the same time when you select your main program, and then when the download starts, everything comes in at once.  Also, if you are currently using Serial make sure that you have active Ethernet or USB options on these machines before going any further. Your machine tool dealer should be able to provide directions on how to check each kind of machine that you’d like to convert.

For more “Smart Manufacturing” info please follow our blog, visit our website www.enetdnc.com or call us at (414)817-7070.