the fastems reads it? what for.
I looking to justify one of these in the future, I would like to know all I can.
It can see which tools are in the machine(s) and how much life remains to determine whether or not a job can be completed. You can set this to different levels of control - checking whether the tool exists or not (or broken) or if there is enough tool life remaining to complete the part program.
Not sure if meandean has done this yet or not either, but you need to setup pallet fixtures, programs and part data.
Setup fixture data - basically just a name and description of your fixtures. Maybe specific fixture for specific part, or could be different size vises, dovetail fixtures, etc.
Load programs into the system.
Setup a part - name, description, add operations. Operations can be one or multiple programs or even be brought back out to the load station between programs. Simple part would just be: load, run program 1234, unload. You can also specify which load stations or which machines it is allowed to use.
Setup the job - under production, add a job - select the part, qty, due date. They can be planned (to run later) or executed (and setup as rush job - it will always be placed front of the line)
Bring a pallet to load station. Add fixture to pallet. Fastems is always checking resources to see what it can run. Checking pallets for needed fixtures, checking what jobs can run on that fixture (careful, because different jobs can run on the same fixtures, you need to pay attention to loading instructions to see which job is being run!) and checking to see if necessary tools are available.
When it sees the required fixture is available, it will allow you to load material (or if this pallet is in storage, it will bring it to a load station automatically.)
Load material and it will place the job in the queue, or send to machine.
The tool management is nice. I'm not using tool life in fastems just yet (in machine, yes, and with backup tools for some jobs - Fastems will show all redundant tools too) but it is neat to see it working. Say I'm running multiple pallets of a job. Pallet in the machine breaks a tool, or the last tool expires. Fastems immediately knows it doesn't have the required tools to run the next pallet, so unloads it from pallet changer and loads the next scheduled pallet. I have mine to reject the current pallet in the machine if a tool break is detected. It is neat to watch, the pallets in storage with missing resources (tools) just wait. When I replace a tool in the machine, the tool data is updated in Fastems and it automatically sends or schedules those pallets.
The part setup is pretty flexible too. For a part template, you can have multiple operations configured. Say OP1 runs in a dovetail fixture. Then OP2 runs in a vise on a different pallet. Or some parts you might need a manual operation inbetween, move or add a clamp or reposition a part. You can set it up to load material, run program 1, back out to load station for manual operation, then program 2, then unload. This could be just "one operation" in the part template.
Each step of the way you can add setup sheets, notes, pictures etc to see on the operator control by the load station.