FANUC CNC Retrofit Questions & Answers

What is the typical investment for a FANUC Control Retrofit?
A basic, 2-axis machine tool retrofit starts between $75,000 - $100,000. This investment includes a new FANUC control, Servo motors & servo drives, engineering, pre-assembly, testing, on-site installation at your facility, startup, debug, training and thorough documentation. Larger or more complex machines will require a larger investment.

What is the usual lead time and downtime for a FANUC Control Retrofit?
For a average retrofit our current lead time is 12-14 weeks to engineer and deliver the retrofit hardware package.  Installation, startup, debug and training (downtime) usually require a minimum of an additional 2 -3 weeks.

Do I need to ship my machine to your location?
CNC Engineering specializes in on-site or in-field FANUC Control Retrofits.  We will pre-assemble and pre-test the FANUC hardware and software before shipping the package to your manufacturing facility.  A highly qualified install team will complete the installation, startup, debug and training portion of your retrofit without any need to move the machine tool.

Can I install the retrofit package myself?
Yes, if you have experienced personnel in machine wiring and controls. We will usually send an engineer to work with your installers to complete the startup & debug phase. Keep in mind that many companies maintenance departments are understaffed and therefore the retrofit installation may take substantially longer.

What is the difference between a machine tool retrofit, rebuild and remanufacture?
At a minimum, a retrofit consists of replacing the machine's control.  Retrofits are usually done at the customer's location, thereby saving downtime and transportation cost.  Many of the following components are usually replaced or added:

  • Axes servomotors and servo drives
  • Spindle motor and / or spindle drive
  • New electrical cabinet
  • Replacement of limit switches
  • Re-wire of the machine tool
  • New feedback devices such as glass scales

A CNC machine tool rebuild usually consists of a retrofit and some mechanical work, but not a complete remanufacture.  Repairing or replacing ballscrews is common.  Depending on the extent of work required, rebuilds might be done at the customer's location or offsite at a rebuilder’s facility.

A machine remanufacture includes a control retrofit as well as all work required to return the machine to OEM specification or better. This usually involves stripping the machine down to castings, repainting the machine and replacing all bearings, as well as rebuilding ball screws, hydraulics, lubrication and coolant systems.  Remanufacturing is almost always done offsite and usually requires 3-6 months downtime.

To further increase a machine tool's productivity, CNC Engineering often installs additional accessories during a retrofit, rebuild or remanufacture.  These can include additional axes to control, rotary tables, lasers for tool setting, part probes, or other machine tool accessories to further increase the machine's capability.

When is a good time to retrofit a machine tool?
Before you need to. Often a customer is aware that the technology and components on their machines are outdated.  However, there is a natural tendency to wait until something breaks.  While this may be an acceptable philosophy for your lawn mower, the maintenance of your machine tools needs to be approached more strategically.  A critical machine breakdown at an inopportune time can seriously damage your production and jeopardize relationships with your customers.  Take control and retrofit your machines before they break down.  This will provide you the ability to "plan and schedule" the machine downtime needed for the retrofit.

What are the benefits of retrofitting a machine tool?
Benefits that can be realized include but are not limited to:

  • Increased uptime - reliability
  • Increased production capacity
  • Decreased repair costs
  • Shorter cycle times
  • Reduced scrap
  • Increased employee confidence
  • By retrofitting your machine tools with new controls, motors, drives or machine-enhancing accessories such as probes, rotary tables or specialized software, you can achieve improved productivity.

What is important when choosing a brand of control for a machine tool retrofit?
FANUC controls are the most reliable controls on the market. Reliability equates to machine up time which equates to the all important “on time product delivery”. Don’t choose a control where reliability is questionable.

Support & replacement parts availability
No control will run forever, so when they do quit, how quickly can the problem be found and how quickly can parts be obtained? Since FANUC is the number one selling control in the world, there are more companies that support these controls then any other control. At CNC Engineering, we always have engineers ready to assist our customers and if parts are needed we can usually ship a part within hours, either from our vast FANUC stock or from one of our many other part suppliers.

Power and features
Will the control perform the job you intended it to do without your personnel having to jump through hoops? Is the control easy to use? Does it have the features that you may need in the future? FANUC controls are the most powerful in the world with capabilities that include different types of offsets, high-speed machining, large quantities of memory and hundreds of additional features.

Will the control you purchase today integrate to accessories you may buy tomorrow? We are constantly approached by customers who want their relatively new, non FANUC controls, to be updated with touch probes, tool setting lasers, rotary tables or connected to various plant systems. Unfortunately many of these controls are either not capable of being upgraded or their manufacturer is not interested in supporting updates to these controls. Many control manufacturers have the attitude that “what you bought is what you get”. CNC Engineering has been upgrading FANUC controls for more than 33 years with all types of accessories and software.

Many companies wisely choose to standardize on one brand of machine control whenever possible. This minimizes operator, programmer and maintenance training which allows them to concentrate their efforts on one control type, thereby becoming more proficient and achieving better productivity. Since FANUC controls are so widely offered on various machine tools standardizing on FANUC controls is easier than most other controls.

How do I choose a machine tool retrofitter / rebuilder? 
These questions will help you get a feel for the capability and qualifications of the company you are considering.

How long has the company been in business? 
CNC Engineering has been providing FANUC retrofits for over 33 years.

Do they specialize in one control or will they retrofit with any control? 
We believe specializing in one brand of control enables us to be experts with these controls ever-changing technology. As a result we can quickly engineer, build and install these controls to a variety of machine tools. This expertise allows us to implement more timely and cost effective retrofits than companies who attempt to use various makes of controls.

How many retrofits do they do in a year? 
CNC Engineering, Inc. delivers 50+ retrofits per year.

Do they have repeat customers? 
Over 85% of the applications that CNC Engineering performs are with repeat customers.

Do they have experience with the machine tool you are considering? 
With more than 1000 machines retrofitted, featuring over 100 different makes and hundreds of different models, it is very likely that we have worked with the machine you are considering.

Do they have any experience with value added accessories? 
Offering a wide array of machine tool accessories, CNC Engineering has experienced staff to design and develop a solution for you using probing, rotary tables, lasers, or custom control software.

What is the experience of their staff? 
With over 30 employees we have diverse experience in many areas 
300+ combined years of Electrical Engineering Experience 
120+ combined years of Grinding Experience 
80+ combined years of High Level Programming Experience 
55+ combined years of Probing Experience 
70+ combined years of Rotary Table experience

What level of follow up support do they provide? 
We have a staff of engineers available to discuss issues with your machine tool. Problems can usually be diagnosed over the phone and replacement items sent for next day delivery. If service is necessary, we have a team of qualified service technicians that can usually respond within 24 hours.

What kind of machine tool documentation is supplied? 
CNC Engineering provides a complete documentation package both on hard copy as well as electronically on CD.  Our package often surpasses that of the OEM.

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