Most outrageous CNC repair stories and parts costs ?
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  1. #1
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    Default Most outrageous CNC repair stories and parts costs ?

    Top this - I was at an auction in FL yesterday and got to talking with a guy wanting to bid on the Eurotech 5 axis turn center. The subject of his 2000 year Gildemeister CTX400 turn center with Siemens 810D control came up.

    Keep in mind this is all from a stranger to me, so the whole story should include the manufacturer/distributor side, but at my age and having been around my share of BS, I can read people pretty well and the guy seemed as straight up as they get, get so all sounds plausable to me.

    Still, as we haven't heard both sides on the machine side I won't say if tech was from manuf. or distributor. But on the control side I can't avoid naming names, plus the most outrageous aspect are simply the prices and this can be checked out.

    Anyhoo, he bought the CTX400 new and had a number of problems about one year later where tech came out numerous times and eventually started blaming the problem on "bad power". So they got power conditioners and such but still had problems, with seller eventually giving up on it...refused to come out any more.

    So, he started having to pay for some things and noticing prices. A simple plug in relay was *$3,000* direct from Siemens !!! Machine apparently had 17 inch special monitor and some bulbs went out in this monitor...I presume for backlighting the screen, but not sure. Anyway, each bulb was $500 !!!! A whole new monitor was.....drum roll...... $13,000 !!!

    Oh and the other cute thing, was Siemens was acting like the 810D was "obsolete" just 4 or 5 years after it came out...and wouldn't support it worth a damn.

    Anyhoo, this was a jaw dropper to me...so just thought I'd pass it along....it seems one should avoid the Siemens 810D like the HIV virus for starters. OTOH, I've owned some Bridgeport VMC's with Siemens drives and had good luck with them and reasonable repair quotes from them.

    Oh and the other thing, this guy eventually found the root cause of his previous problems...a crimped wire that was shorting out and definitely due to manufacturing defect. He took a picture of it, with precise explaination to seller and they accused him of staging the picture and lying about it !!

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    I had to replace the servo amplifier for the tool changer on a late 90's hmc. The power supply, amp, and drive are all bundled and aren't sold separately. $8500.

    I also had to replace the servo. $5500.

    Encoder cable for tool changer servo. $500.

    I sold that POS soon after, and will never consider buying a machine from that manufacturer again.

    (Edit: To clarify, my problems were not Siemens related. The servo, and drive I had to buy were manufactured by Harmonic)

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    A friend who is an electrical engineer said to me one day when I was searching for a connector for my Renishaw probe, that none of these machine tool companies are big enough to economically justify having a component manufacturers make parts that would be proprietary to their machines. And a big company like Siemens wouldn't make a control that didn't use parts that they didn't make for something else. Likewise Siemens didn't write a Video signal standard just to use in their CNC controls. They used VGA or similar just like everybody else. The point is that with a little searching through the Newark or Digi Key catalogs or a little hacking there is a way around manufacturers price gouging. If I need a new ball screw, I know XYZ machine company didn't make their own ball screws, and THK will custom modify any screw they make for 1/3 what the OEM charges. I do however realize that what you may in fact be paying for is expediency or convenience.
    Last edited by micro; 06-21-2008 at 10:31 AM.

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    Hrm.... That's a bit hard to believe. Those prices sound more like DMG prices, not Siemens. It also sounds like typical DMG service. We run top-of-the-line 840D's and _nothing_ on the entire system is that expensive. Service has been second to none from Siemens.
    From my understanding, Siemens policy is new parts are produced for 10 years after a control goes out of regular production. After that, NOS parts are available until gone, but repair service is available as long as it can be repaired. We are still running many 805 controllers, which went out of production in 1994. New parts didn't become unavailable for them until about 2005-2006, repair service is still available to this day.

    If you want horror stories....
    We had a Fanuc 21i die in 2004. This was a European spec 21i, made in 2001. Fanuc changed the control voltages and apparently most everything else sometime between 2001 and 2004. No parts available. "We can build you one, by hand, in Japan, 16 week lead time from receipt of PO." They offered to "modify" an 18 to work with the 21i control hardware, they could do this in 3 weeks. Cost == $27,000. We paid it, and eat the 3 weeks lost production, jumped through hoops to make shipments, etc because we *had* to have the machine. ($300,000/hr fine if you don't make shipments.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by micro View Post
    . The point is that with a little searching through the Newark or Digi Key catalogs or a little hacking there is a way around manufacturers price gouging. If I need a new ball screw, I know XYZ machine company didn't make their own ball screws, and THK will custom modify any screw they make for 1/3 what the OEM charges. .
    He, like I, was/is well aware of that. Instead of buying $500 bulbs for instance, he found some LED replacments for just a few bucks that worked fine. He was just telling me the prices they quoted him, which doesn't indicate he actually purchased the items at those prices...although I think he did have to buy one $3,000 relay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonytn36 View Post
    Hrm.... That's a bit hard to believe. Those prices sound more like DMG prices, not Siemens. It also sounds like typical DMG service. We run top-of-the-line 840D's and _nothing_ on the entire system is that expensive. Service has been second to none from Siemens.
    If you want horror stories....
    He kept stressing it was only the 810D control that had such issues, all the other Siemens controls were fine.
    We had a Fanuc 21i die in 2004. This was a European spec 21i, made in 2001. Fanuc changed the control voltages and apparently most everything else sometime between 2001 and 2004. No parts available. "We can build you one, by hand, in Japan, 16 week lead time from receipt of PO." They offered to "modify" an 18 to work with the 21i control hardware, they could do this in 3 weeks. Cost == $27,000. We paid it, and eat the 3 weeks lost production, jumped through hoops to make shipments, etc because we *had* to have the machine. ($300,000/hr fine if you don't make shipments.)
    Wow....that's pretty awful indeed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milacron View Post
    He kept stressing it was only the 810D control that had such issues, all the other Siemens controls were fine.


    Wow....that's pretty awful indeed.
    We don't have any 810D's, so I wouldn't know, but I really don't think it could be that much unless it was something proprietary that Gildemeister put in the control themselves. I can see $3500 for a drive, not a relay, we've got thousands of Siemens relays in our facility, I've never seen one that was anywhere even in the ballpark of $3k. I _can_ see DMG charging $3000 for a relay. They tried to charge us $28,000 for a $400 radiator.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonytn36 View Post
    We don't have any 810D's, so I wouldn't know, but I really don't think it could be that much unless it was something proprietary that Gildemeister put in the control themselves. I can see $3500 for a drive, not a relay, we've got thousands of Siemens relays in our facility, I've never seen one that was anywhere even in the ballpark of $3k. I _can_ see DMG charging $3000 for a relay. They tried to charge us $28,000 for a $400 radiator.
    I too thought the relay price beyond insane and did press him on that point a number of times but he continued to insist, yes $3,000 per relay and from Siemens. If I wasn't in such a hurry to get back home I was very tempted to visit his shop just to see one of those relays with my own eyes. (and FWIW, I took notes on all this just minutes after the conversation soas to get my info correct the next day) It did seem slightly possible after hearing of the $500 light bulbs anyway

    Especially ironic considering in all the 100 or so CNC machine's I've repaired over the years I've yet to encounter a single relay on any machine that was bad. Had a few where the connection to it's base was iffy, but never a problem with the relay itself.

    Btw, what exactly do you mean by "radiator" in a CNC machine...part of spindle chiller ??

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    Siemens, huh.

    I'm not real impressed with siemens. We're using vacuum pumps that are manufactured
    by a noted reputable company, which sources their motors OEM from Siemens.

    Long story short, Siemens designed the starter circuit for their single phase motors
    (which are designed to be dual voltage, 120/240) such that the just don't
    start reliably on the lower voltage. Yep, siemens simply blew the design. Badly.

    Basically they start OK when configured for the higher voltage, but they wanted
    to not have to any re-wiring to the start circuit when going to the lower voltage.
    I guess they figured that most users in europe would be 240 so they optimized it
    for that.

    The pump manufacturer's suggestion? Leave them running once you get them started.
    "Most of our customers do that."

    With the help of other board contributors I doped out the simple start relay circuit and
    modified it to start reliably. Before doing this I had originally figured it was a defective
    potential relay and had them ship me another one. Yep, you guessed it, the one they
    send me had cooked contacts on it, too. The result of the chattering of failed start
    attempts.

    Siemens may make a good motor but as far as I'm concerned, they know exactly,
    precicely, ZERO about electrical engineering.

    Our group got a nice lunch from the sales rep of the vacuum company when I showed
    him how to fix the problem.

    Jim

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    Well, since my 1.5 year old hardinge has a siemens control on it, you can imagine how much I'm loving to hear this story.

    Don't have a horror story of my own yet. I'm sure my day is coming.

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    The Okuma distributor fixed up a guy I know with 3 fuses on a spindle drive for $180 apiece. Drive would blow the fuses every once in a while on decel. They didn't have a clue about how to fix it, but were happy to sell him all the fuses he wanted. After getting burned once he found the same fuses from Grainger for $14 apiece. Later replaced the fuse block with a 3 pole breaker.

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    Well my story doesn’t involve a true “CNC” but it is outrageous and it involves Siemens.
    Long story short…
    Went to finish a custom machine installation and training in Fishkill, NY for a large semiconductor company, since the assigned service engineer was going on vacation. Basically the machine used a Siemens OCR reader to read the serial number from the back side of the wafer and scribe it onto the front side before the backside was ground down and diced.
    So we had a problem with ~1 wafer per 100 rejecting because the OCR reader couldn’t read the serial number, because the photo resist clouded the alphanumeric characters. We hadn’t thought how to handle this except to send the wafer back into the loading pod but there couldn’t be any rejects since these were high value wafers and were essentially done.
    Longer story short…it was decided to have a Siemens Service Engineer fly out from the West coast on Friday night of Super Bowl weekend and try to tweak the setting to fix the problem. He stayed the weekend and flew out Sunday night or Monday morning, can’t remember anymore, we were able to reduce the rejects to ~1 per 200. So we still had to come up with a better solution and we did.

    So he stayed ~2 – 2.5 days and the bill from Siemens was ~25,000 dollars!!! Turns out he was billing every hour he was there and all double time, something like $350/per hour plus expenses and last minute airfare to the closest airport.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milacron View Post
    Btw, what exactly do you mean by "radiator" in a CNC machine...part of spindle chiller ??
    Yes, part of the spindle chiller.

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    I have worked directly with Siemens because my local service center sucks. (REALLY SUCKS!!!!) I have nothing but good things to say about them. They are a little pricey on some items, others they are easy on the pocket book. I have an 840C control right now and they have almost every part for it and they offer a core exchange for most parts. That really reduces replacement part costs. Some components are obsolete, but they are replaced with a newer version of the part. Their field techs that I have dealt with are top notch and knew the control inside and out. I'm thinking more and more that this guy's problem was more with Gildemeister and less with Siemens.

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    I suspect Gildemeister is the main problem here. There is someone from Malta that has a Gildemeister with a Fanuc control that had a number of problems he posted about. It seems that Gildemeister makes their own ladder that is so screwed up that the Fanuc just craps out. He also mentioned to me that Gildemeister has been less than helpful and very expensive.

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    Horror stories like this reinforce my belief a shop should use a mainstream brand machine, and stick with it. IMO, they are Mazak, Mori Seiki, Okuma, Haas, and Hardinge.

    Mazak supports every cnc machine they've ever built, and Mitsubishi supports the control side for every control they've ever built for Mazaks.

    CNC machine parts aren't cheap, but getting totally ripped off is uncalled for. Smart machine tool companies know repeat business is their main business.

    Stick with the mainstream.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cnctoolcat View Post
    Horror stories like this reinforce my belief a shop should use a mainstream brand machine, and stick with it. IMO, they are Mazak, Mori Seiki, Okuma, Haas, and Hardinge.
    Mazak supports every cnc machine they've ever built, and Mitsubishi supports the control side for every control they've ever built for Mazaks.
    Stick with the mainstream.
    Mazak is certainly mainstream, but in my experience their parts prices can often be utter insanity as well. $5,000+ for a replacement CRT monochrome monitor, $3,000 for relatively small set of metal way guards (when the exact same set is $1,500 from Heing...which is who made them for Mazak in the first place)...that sort of thing.

    I've found some of the Tawainese companies really good on support and parts prices, like Yang and Supermax. Had good luck with Okuma & Howa too. Makino is one that might be considered "mainstream" but if you didn't buy the machine new, very hard to get service info without paying big annual fee.

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    I had an Okuma LB15 that would go through Spindle Drive Units. 5 of them in two years. $8k each
    turns out one of the fans in the cabinet was dead from the factory. They paid half the bill but it was still $20k inparts and a TON in lst production.
    But I gotta tell ya ... That sure beats my SL10 story!! I guess I don't feel quite so bad now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by david n View Post
    I have worked directly with Siemens because my local service center sucks. (REALLY SUCKS!!!!) I have nothing but good things to say about them. They are a little pricey on some items, others they are easy on the pocket book. I have an 840C control right now and they have almost every part for it and they offer a core exchange for most parts. That really reduces replacement part costs. Some components are obsolete, but they are replaced with a newer version of the part. Their field techs that I have dealt with are top notch and knew the control inside and out. I'm thinking more and more that this guy's problem was more with Gildemeister and less with Siemens.
    We also work directly with Siemens, which is why my post and experiences are similar to yours. We have a Siemens mfg & support facility within 40 miles of the plant. We have actually had them turn a dead drive around in less than 12 hours. Two of our EE's have worked for Siemens also. They have top-notch people in support from our years of experience.

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    On the reasonable side, I bought a seal kit for a chuck cylinder from Kitagawa a couple days ago for a 25 yr old lathe. $104.

    The guy at Kitagawa said they keep kits in stock for newer cylinders, but would need a couple days to ship this one since they make up kits for old ones to order. Granted there's probably no more than $15 worth of o-rings in the kit, but by the time they generate the parts list, pick and pack the parts, and send it thru shipping, I'd doubt they clear $25 on the sale.

    When you consider the convenience factor as compared to tearing the thing apart, measuring all the o-rings, ordering minimum quantity packages of each size, hoping there's no oddball seal that you can't get elsewhere, and having the cylinder torn apart for a week or so, they could likely raise their kit prices by 50% or more and never get the first complaint.


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