5 Tips for Maintaining Your Metalworking Equipment

You know how when you walk into someone’s office you can tell if they’re on top of things or not by the amount of clutter, junk, and stuff laying around? If there’s a lot of junk lying around you wonder how they can work and find anything they may need. The same is true about a workshop. Just like an office, you can tell a lot about a machine operator by the condition of their environment. A well-maintained environment speaks of a person who is not only neat and organized but also methodical in their planning and execution of a task. Maintenance of metalworking machinery speaks volumes about an operator.

What? Me Worry?

Famous last words for sure, but also the very reason maintaining machinery isn’t just necessary, it’s smart. Nothing is worse than walking up to a machine to do a job and the thing doesn’t work right. Bad enough you’ve got to fix the problem before continuing, but worse is that you may have just ruined the only workpiece you’ve got and you have to start all over again from square one. Costly and unnecessary. Maintaining metalworking equipment eliminates the worry and improves productivity. Whether you’re a home enthusiast with a small CNC machine or the maintenance supervisor of twenty 5-axis CNC machines running a production floor, you’ve got to take care of that which takes care of you.

The 5 Tips

Since every service technician and machine manufacturer has their own set of rules to follow for any given machine used in any given environment for any given purpose, we will try to simplify and distill general machine maintenance down to its most important issues. Here are the top five ways to better ensure machine performance:

1 | Know the machine

Seems a little silly to bring this up at this point but you’d be surprised how many operators don’t really know the machine they work with. Reading the instruction manual is one thing but you also need to comprehend what the words in the manual are saying. In other words, you need to climb inside your machine and understand its working parts and pieces so you can better understand how things should run when everything is right … and wrong.

2 | Keep records

It’s important to know when and what has happened so that you can better predict the future. By recording machine information like usage dates, time in service, maintenance checkpoints, and other important data, an operator can better identify trends and spot aberrations in performance or activity. Many modern CNC machines have onboard data retention capabilities and can produce reports at the push of a button. Older equipment or home-use machines may require a simple clipboard and a yellow pad to keep track. In any case, by recording information history is kept that can help diagnose problems in the future.

3 | Lube, lube, lube!

Lubrication is the stuff of life for any machine. Some may come with sealed bearings that aren’t easily accessed for lubrication, but all metalworking machines need their oil, hydraulic fluid, and cutting lube. More failures occur due to a lack of lubrication than for any other reason. Mobile machines like construction equipment and stationary ones like a CNC machine can’t function without it so it’s important to start each day, shift, or project by inspecting and lubricating all moving parts.

4 | Preventative maintenance

Taking care of things before they become problems just makes sense. Preventative Maintenance does that and a lot more. Think of it like washing your car. By performing the task that keeps the vehicle looking nice, it can also prevent rust, and let you discover issues you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Machine manufacturers provide maintenance schedules for equipment but it’s always smart to consider the environment, users, and production materials to establish a quality preventative maintenance program to add to the manufacturer’s routine. Check out our preventative maintenance services for CNC machinery and stay on top of caring for your equipment.

5 | Proper storage

Storing a machine correctly is just as important as using it properly. When the job is finished you can’t just walk away; you need to make sure the unit is ready for its next use. More than sweeping the floor and knocking bits off the edges, leaving a machine in good running order, covered if necessary, but ready to go back to work is essential for proper machine maintenance. Take time to inspect the machine before saying goodbye and the next time it goes to work, it will do the job rather than become the job, causing frustration and costing money.

It’s a Love-Hate Relationship

Face it, we love it when a metalworking machine works and we hate it when it doesn’t. When you’re on the move and getting things done, nothing is more frustrating than having to stop being productive to maintain, repair, or replace a defective unit. Better to keep moving and the best way to do that is to maintain your metalworking machinery and treat it with tender, loving care. Otherwise, the equipment might hate you and you don’t want to fall out of love over something as simple as a little grease, now do you? If your machinery needs upkeep or repair, give us a call to get up and running again!

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