Developing Machining Automation Systems in the THINC Developers Group with Randy Jokerst & Brad Klippstein

Episode 196 | Challenges: Process Technology

With so many automation systems available, it can be hard to know which to use to meet your specific goals and needs as a manufacturing leader. Guest speakers Randy Jokerst and Brad Klippstein share how the THINC Developers Group enables the Metal Working Nation to perform at its best by solving manufacturing leaders’ problems through innovation. 

Randy is the Director of Technical Services at Hartwig Inc. and one of the founding members of the THINC Development Group. Entering the manufacturing world by way of CNC engineering, he has used his gifting in engineering to amp up machinist’s efficiency by implementing automation systems into new machines. Also an engineer, Brad Klippstein is the Supervisor of the Okuma Product Specialist Group. His manufacturing journey began when he visited a machine tool fair fresh out of college and was asked if he wanted to program robots. Hooked, Brad dove into developing new technology and applications at the forefront of the programming world. 


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The THINC Developers Group brainstorms the automation systems of the future 

Having trouble creating efficient processes or closing the skills gap of the next manufacturing generation? Founded in 2008, the THINC Developers Group was created to solve the issues of the Metal Working Nation and provide the cutting-edge applications needed to automate manufacturing systems. The THINC control for machining systems was originally PC-based, and while the developers understood how to navigate and decipher the data collected by the control, most users were unable to view what the control was collecting. The development group was created to enable customers to build their own control interface apps so that they could use the control system to meet their unique needs. The THINC group’s focus is on the communication between the machine tool side and the PC side - teaching people to write the apps to accomplish their machining goals. 



The Okuma Sampling Path utilizes automation systems for optimal efficiency 

Better efficiency is something manufacturing leaders are constantly working towards. One way to improve efficiency while also pouring into your team’s adaptability and performance is to automate the jobs that take away from time that your team can spend in their specific areas of expertise. Limiting distractions by utilizing automation systems to set and send reminders can also boost efficiency levels. Randy talks about how one of the U.S. mints had three separate operations that moved parts from one machine to the next to make the coin dies. Using an automation system developed by the THINC group, they were able to combine their operations into a three-machine/one robot cell that produced all the parts within hours instead of days.


Machine Automation


Many of Okuma Inc.’s developments have come from the THINC Developers Group. Through the MyOkuma app, you can integrate the Okuma tools into your systems. Compatible with many different PC systems, the THINC Developers Group plays in the sandbox of the Application Program Interface (API), creating communication points between machines. The vision and goals of the customer are brought into being through the innovation of THINC and executed through their developments via the Okuma Sampling Path. 

Brad explains that at Okuma, through the Okuma Sampling Path, they can read, write, and access thousands of data points within the controls of systems and machines. They can make the control do whatever the customer needs through the API. All of the solutions data can be viewed and interpreted by the customers so that they can make the best business decisions based upon the data provided. 



Communicating between machines with MTConnect

MTConnect takes the guessing work out of machine data interpretation. Okuma machine tools and the Okuma control collect their machining data from MTConnect, which harvests data straight from the CNC machines, interprets it, and sends it to the Okuma control. Manufacturers have access to this data through their own Okuma controls because MTConnect is already attached to the control from the moment it hits the shop floor. MTConnect allows you to take all the information processed and pull it up via the data stream to your phone, tablet, or computer. With Okuma controls, there is no additional fee for MTConnect. Because it is sent via data stream to your devices, you can access necessary data even while offline. 

Streamlining automation systems to meet your unique goals 

Reading exuberant amounts of data can be overwhelming, which is why the THINC Developers Group created several unique dashboard bases to meet the different needs of manufacturing leaders and their teams. Streamlining your automation systems by utilizing a central dashboard for data collection and interpretation will enable you to view and make decisions more quickly. Instead of manually checking on the tools and machines being used and recording the health, run-time, and down-time of your tools, you can see all of that data displayed on a single dashboard. The idea is to create a condition-based, automated environment that allows you to be as hands-off as possible with the menial work required to run your business. Automation systems are all about keeping it simple and clarifying communication between your team and machines. 



Text CHIPS to 38470 to subscribe to The Boring Bar! Stay informed about what is happening in the #MetalWorkingNation and how you can better lead your manufacturing business! 

Here’s The Good Stuff!

  • Randy Jokerst and Brad Klippstein share their manufacturing journeys. 
  • The birth of the THINC Developers Group. 
  • The MyOkuma app gives manufacturers control over their automated systems.
  • Creating what manufacturing leaders need with the Okuma Sampling Path. 
  • The ease of function created MTConnect utilization. 
  • How to read machining data without becoming overwhelmed. 
  • The success stories and impact of the THINC Developers Group. 

Tools & Takeaways

This Week’s Superstar Guest: Randy Jokerst & Brad Klippstein

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Jason Zenger: Jim, I know we've talked about it on MakingChips before. You've got a bunch of accreditations behind your company, but what about Xometry's accreditations?

Jim Carr: Yeah, as a matter of fact I've been using them to manufacture some parts of mine. But man, they are ISO 9,000 120 15. They're also AS 90100 certified they are ITARR registered they have 2100+ US manufacturing, partners across this whole country. It's fantastic, upload your CAD file to their online portal, spits out a quote in a matter of seconds, and the ease of doing business with them is profound. I can't get over it enough, and the fact that they're registered, I can submit my jobs that are ITARR registered to them and have the same compliance.

Jason Zenger: So go to You and I have a podcast that we started several years ago where we talked about best practices in the manufacturing industry. For the CEO and the manufacturing leader. And we've actually had Jim Carr on the show before, and it was a great episode and we learned a lot from him.

Jim Carr: Yeah, it's a pleasure to be here, we have interviewed Jim before in IMTS. It's really crazy how this all came about when Jason asked me about 4 1/2, 5 years ago, to start this little hobby about sitting in Jason's furnace room and Zenger's right bale harrier port. And the airplanes were flying above, and we were recording this crazy little hobby called "MakingChips" and we got a great response. It's been 4 1/2 glorious years with this guy so.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, so here we are today and we've got so many great partners that you and I work with on a daily basis, Allied machine, Linda X, CARR. There's just a lot of familiar faces here at the Thinc developers group and we're really excited to kind of explore what they do.

Jim Carr: As we typically do on the show, let's talk about manufacturing news. What's new in the world of manufacturing that you want to talk about?

Jason Zenger: Well one of the things that I saw that was highlighted, so we're here in Charlotte. But back in our hometown of Chicago we actually have friends at MHUB Chicago. Which, is a physical products development group. So they manufacture products and they're looking for $15 million dollars in investments. In order to-

Speaker 3: 15?

Jason Zenger: 15, 1-5.

Jim Carr: 1-5 got it.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. A little more money than you and I have.

Jim Carr: A little bit more.

Jason Zenger: And they're looking for that money in order to develop that group. So it's kind of exciting our friend Haven and Bill they're really doing a great thing for the manufacturing community. And we really hope that those people that start manufacturing that physical product [inaudible 00:02:52] start manufacturing in the United States. And develop those business.

Jim Carr: Yep, things are good, things are really good. What's keeping you awake at night man? We always talk about this every week on the show about what's keeping us awake at night, because manufacturing is challenges.

Jason Zenger: It is right?

Jim Carr: We're constantly waking up 2, 3 in the morning, we can't sleep because we got all these things about running a manufacturing company in our head. What's keeping you awake at night?

Jason Zenger: What's keeping awake, last night.

Jim Carr: Other than all those kids that you have.

Jason Zenger: What's keeping me awake last night is that I had 20 teenagers at my house, and we had to be at the airport at 3 am in order to make out here to Charlottes. That is what's keeping me up at night. This night but, in general we talk a lot about data and artificial intelligence on MakingChips. We talk about the fact that manufacturing leaders out there need to get with the data program. They need to start exploring these as options for their business, and we actually have a RFP out there where we're exploring how to use artificial intelligence in our business. In order to automate and really do more with less people so that's what's not necessarily keeping me up at night but it's kind of a fun thing. It's keeping me up at night because I'm thinking about all the possibilities that we have in the future for that.

Jim Carr: And it really is all about automation right? I mean automation is where we're headed. As I walked around the floor today, Randy was taking me around, I mean I see automation everywhere and it's crazy. So all the things that are keeping me-

Jason Zenger: Yeah what about you Jim?

Jim Carr: At night, is capacity. We're blowing the doors out right now and we just quite frankly don't have the capacity anymore. So I think a way to resolve capacity issues is to really elevate our automation, interject efficiencies into what we're doing.

Jason Zenger: Yeah maybe you can replace a couple of those last old machines you have with the new Okuma.

Jim Carr: We've got a couple of old machines that we definitely want to look at getting rid of.

Jason Zenger: Absolutely. For the audience out there that doesn't know MakingChips why don't you tell them about the boring bar and how they get connected with us?

Jim Carr: This was one of Jason's brain childs, we have a weekly newsletter that goes out to all of you. That you need to all subscribe to and we'll tell you how to do that in just a minute, but it's called the Boring Bar and we believe manufacturing to everybody outside of our industry is boring right?

Jason Zenger: Right.

Jim Carr: I mean if you ever sit down and talk to somebody else outside of our industry and you start to talking about 3 and 4 axis and additive and subtractive and cutting tools, they're going to go silent right away. But the thing is we know how to talk to each other, we know manufacturing is certainly not boring so we branded a weekly newsletter where we curated news articles and information to equip and inspire all of you and not only is it to equip it and inspire but it's also to entertain you a little bit too. Because that's we do right?

Jason Zenger: You got it.

Jim Carr: So if you subscribe to the weekly newsletter call the Boring Bar you'll get links to all the curated news articles and the weekly podcast for that week. How do you do that?

Jason Zenger: So you just text CHIPS to 38470, you're lucky I looked that ahead of time Jim. I knew you forgot.

Jim Carr: I'm actually surprised you remembered that, but yes, take out your smartphones and text the word CHIPS to 38470. There's not going to be any charge for it and you'll automatically be subscribed to the Boring bar, which is a weekly curated news.

Jason Zenger: So how about we get this interview out the way, we'll bring up-

Jim Carr: I think so, we got some great guests.

Jason Zenger: So we got two guests, and I'm going to introduce the first one. Our first guest today is going to be Randy Jokerst, And Randy is the director of technical services with Hartwig. He has been with Hartwig for 30 years and joined the company in 1985 as a service engineer. He's also held roles as application engineer, applications manager for the St. Louis space division. Randy is most recognized as for service and application expertise and is a master in service and application. And Randy is one of the founding members of Think development group. Randy thank you and welcome.

Randy Jokerst: No problem, thanks for having me.

Jason Zenger: So Randy one of the things that Jim and I always talk about in the show is you've been in the industry for 30 years but how did you get into this manufacturing industry? What's your story?

Randy Jokerst: Well, obviously it started back in 1985, got out of college and saw an opportunity at Hartwig which is one of Okuma distributors. As a service guy, I got into the service department and saw the manufacturing world out there. All these guys, some of them back then still turning cranks on the [crosstalk 00:07:35]

Jim Carr: Yeah I was, for sure.

Randy Jokerst: Right. So you know I saw that and I was obviously involved in the CNC machine inside. So it was great to go out and teach these guys after they bought a new machine, how the CNC side worked. Well I would leverage them these old machinists, " Hey I'll teach you how to make this machine do whatever you want. If you teach me a little bit about machining." So they got me involved in-

Jim Carr: Oh so you came into the industry not knowing anything about machining but you knew about CNC? You knew about the programming language, the world that the machines talk in. So you kind of went in reverse instead of learning the fundamentals of machining first you learned the CNC part first.

Randy Jokerst: Yeah I knew the technical side pretty well.

Jim Carr: Awesome that's a great-

Randy Jokerst: Whenever, I came on board, worked my way through the service department and into the applications engineering department. Again, still learning as I go. You never quit learning in this industry.

Jim Carr: Yeah so tell me a little bit about Hartwig? You've been with them how many years now?

Randy Jokerst: 34.

Jim Carr: 34 years?

Randy Jokerst: 34, yeah.

Jim Carr: So how has your role with the company evolved over those 34 years? We're not doing the same things your doing in 1985 anymore right?

Randy Jokerst: Right. No we're not. I really learned the most and felt like I had the most value as an applications engineer. Because we would go in with our salesman and talk to the customer and just walk through the shop a lot of times and say ,"What are you doing?", And ,"How are doing it?", and "Oh by the way have you thought about using this type of tooling or using this type of machine or a new machine that can do it much more efficiently", that evolved now into a lot of automation you guys were just talking about automation and-

Jim Carr: It's all about automation right?

Randy Jokerst: Exactly

Jim Carr: It really is.

Randy Jokerst: You know the workers are so hard to get nowadays.

Jim Carr: Yeah it really is. So those 34 years your role with Hartwig has evolved? You're helping people, your equipping and inspiring them to do better and really amp up their efficiencies. So that kind of parallels with what this Thinc, T-H-I-N-C developers group is really about. Tell us about how the Thinc partners, which their beautiful logo right there, tell us about how that was birthed? Tell us how it all came about? How many years has this been in force?

Jason Zenger: Yeah and what is the Thinc developers group?

Jim Carr: What is the Thinc developers group? Is it a bunch of guys walking around with baseball caps and one things down coding?

Randy Jokerst: Right. No, it got started probably 11 years ago? Shortly after the Thinc control was developed. And to Thinc control being PC based and all the capability in the world. But, no one was out there really making the two sides talk and helping the end user develop apps. So, there was a group of 4 or 5 guys that saw this and said. "Hey we need to get a group together." The Thinc developers group "to help our customers right their own apps and help-".

Jason Zenger: So this is like if you know if you've got your iPhone or your android phone and it comes great out of the box, but sometimes you want it just to do more, is it that same concept where you've got your-

Randy Jokerst: Customization?

Jason Zenger: You know you've got your Okuma machine you've got your controls and you just have a little bit something special that you want to do more.

Randy Jokerst: That's right. Yeah.

Jim Carr: It is kind of like an ERP system within the machine tool or? Like I know what the group is, but as far as the software or the application side, is it more or less like an ERP system where it's leading us down the road?

Jason Zenger: Not exactly no it's like a phone. Yeah it's like a phone.

Randy Jokerst: [crosstalk 00:11:21] It's a machine tool control.

Jim Carr: It's a machine tool control? Okay.

Randy Jokerst: Correct. And what the Thinc developers group is really focused on is the communications between the OSP side, the machine tool side, and the PC side. So there's a communication that goes on there over an API. So a lot of machine tool guys they know how to make the machine tool do what it needs to do. But they don't really know the PC side, so the Thinc developers group is helping to grow that and actually write apps, teach people how to write apps. That can make them do the different things they're after.

Jason Zenger: So what would be a specific app project that you've worked on for an N user? That came out of the Thinc developers group?

Randy Jokerst: Okay yeah, no that's a great question, we actually had a customer come to us and you know on a lath, a lot of time you have to do an UP 10 and then you have to flip the part over and do an UP 20. Well that's a lot of times separate operations in the program. Well the customer comes to us and says, "Sometimes my operator gets distracted and he forgets to flip the part over.".

Jason Zenger: And he ruins the part.

Randy Jokerst: Yeah, not-

Jason Zenger: And it costs the company money.

Randy Jokerst: Not a good thing, right. Yeah.

Jason Zenger: So how does this mitigate that?

Randy Jokerst: So this app that these guys wrote them, matter of hours, then looks at the chuck to see, "Hey has the chuck been opened or not?".

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Randy Jokerst: To allow the second part of the program to run or not. It's really a simple app for these guys to do, but so valuable for the N user. So now the operator gets distracted he forgets to flip the part over, there's a big sign right there that says, "Hey don't run until you flip the part over.".

Jason Zenger: Right, and you have to hit that button and say, "Yes I did it", before you can proceed. And how does that help the CEO of that company, the manufacturer and leader in order to meet their goals in the company?

Randy Jokerst: It obviously keeps the operator in line a little bit better.

Jason Zenger: A little more accountable.

Randy Jokerst: Yeah, a little reminder pops up, "Hey it's time to flip over the part.". It's going to keep him focused, maker better parts, not bump the machine, not cause strap parts, and ultimately in the end make more money for the owner.

Jim Carr: So, when you buy a new Okuma machine tool is this part of what is standard in part? It's not an add-on it is an automatic part of this community of manufacturing professionals that we can, I could call you or text you or E-mail you and say, "Hey Randy I got a problem with this specific cutting application on my machine. I really could use some expertise, because we do not have any expertise in cutting titanium.". It's kind of like a board of directors a personal board of directors for machining ability.

Randy Jokerst: Yeah, and quite honestly that part of it is the application engineer. Which all of our Okumata distributors they all have applications engineers. Those are the type of questions that they answer. But a lot of times the customer will bring a problem like the part flip. That we really can't control that on the Okuma programming side, okay. And starting things running-

Jason Zenger: It's a safe guard.

Randy Jokerst: It's a safe guard.

Jason Zenger: I would think Jim for you, so like if you want to figure how to machine titanium better you can go to me. But let's say you want to do some integration with your-

Jim Carr: I could but I don't want to.

Jason Zenger: If you want to do say some integration with your ERP system, lets just say this customer has some real precise instructions as to how to handle their parts. You can have that ERP system know it's interact with your controls. And they can write an app to make a connection between the two. Or maybe your operator somehow has to communicate something when they bring it to the next phase and that could come through the controls of a system.

Randy Jokerst: Right. Exactly, that was another great app that these guys wrote in a matter of hours. Again, I'm not the Thinc developer group, I'm not a software writer.

Jason Zenger: Right

Randy Jokerst: I'm the idea guy for this group. So we brought an idea to the group that a customer again, brought to us said "Hey I want something on the Okuma side.". because I know how to write a program on the Okuma side and I know how to talk to the common variables. Get those common variables to talk to something on the window side to allow me to start something running with the part program. And the example was a PowerPoint. The setup guy that was setting the machine up, he taking pictures, making notes as he set the machine up and then he put that in a power point setup the part program to automatically make that power point start running when the operator took the barcode scanner, scanned the traveler, it selected the program started the power point running and said, "Okay, Mr. Operator you set this machine up, set the vice right here in this part of the table, these tools, this program, hit go.".

Jason Zenger: So it takes the normal capabilities of the controls and helps expand it visual. You know you get to visualize it more than when you normally do with a standard control.

Randy Jokerst: Right. Talking the external things. External to the control was the power point. That's just an executable, it can also talk to these gages that are out here. A wireless gage or wired gage even, so the operator takes the part out of the machine, takes it over to the gage stand, gages it and then the gage talks to the machine.

Jim Carr: We just walked the floor here and man I saw some beautiful machinery and equipment here. That back room back there really intrigued me, the additive and subtractive machinery. Can you just take a few minutes and talk about the new technology that Okuma is integrating into this industry to make us better machine shops?

Randy Jokerst: Wow. That was-

Jason Zenger: Well I mean that was very impressive.

Randy Jokerst: But yeah the additive the laser EX machines that Okuma came out with.

Jason Zenger: Right.

Randy Jokerst: I was fortunate enough to get trained on that a little bit, in the beginning. It's just what you said it's additive so we have the ability to add material to a piece of material in the machine. And maybe we're adding a stellite, or some very hard material to a very soft material. Then we can actually hard turn that surface.

Jim Carr: But you can add it in one setting, you've got how many different additive materials that you can succinctly put on at the same time four?

Randy Jokerst: Right, up to four. Yes that's correct. And so yeah you can put a part in you can machine some of it away and then add a bose on the outside diameter of the part for example. And then machine that bose instead of buying a larger piece of material and machining everything away except the bose.

Jason Zenger: Exactly. So Randy how does a customer become apart of the Thinc's developers group? This exclusive group of developers.

Randy Jokerst: Yeah it's very simple. One way is-

Jason Zenger: Giving your credit card right?

Randy Jokerst: Right. No, it's free, there's no charge.

Jason Zenger: It's easier than that right?

Randy Jokerst: Right, a couple of ways, multiple ways, one way is to go to our website.

Jason Zenger: Okay. What is it?

Randy Jokerst:

Jason Zenger: O-S-P-?

Randy Jokerst: Pedia. P-E-D-I-A.

Jason Zenger: That's a mouthful you might have to you know make sense of that in the future.

Randy Jokerst: Right. An easier way maybe just to shoot me an E-mail. Shoot anyone in the group an E-mail.

Jason Zenger: And we'll put a link in the Boring Bar. So if somebody wants to subscribe to the Boring Bar we'll put a link right there so they can get connected.

Randy Jokerst: Right. It's very simple.

Jim Carr: I have another question too. Obviously 34 years you've been doing this, you've met with a lot of machine shops, you've seen a lot of applications going on in these shops. Tell us one success story that you've witnessed overall multiple decades as I always say in the business [inaudible 00:19:53]. Tell us one success story that you saw personally first hand that really helped a shop out and really saved them thousands of dollars.

Randy Jokerst: Thousands or millions? Some of them made-

Jim Carr: Well both. Thousands add up, up to millions.

Randy Jokerst: Yeah, it grows. It grows exponentially. Real easy example for me is the US mint. Out in Denver I got involved in a project with them, where they had 3 separate operations. It was actually more than 3, but 3 separate operations taking parts from machine to machine and they're making dyes that actually stamp the coins. So, it's very critical.

Jason Zenger: We still use coins?

Randy Jokerst: Yep. Some people do. It's amazing how many penny dyes they still need to make. So they came to us and said, "Hey we'd like to combine this in some way.". So long story short we combined all three of these operations into a three machine one robot cell, that produces these parts in a matter of hours vs. days.

Jim Carr: Wow. So what do you think you've helped them save overall? Millions?

Randy Jokerst: Yeah I mean if you think about it, these dyes got to be controlled very tightly. Hard to get into the mint. Even harder to get into the dye shop where they make these dyes. Because you can steal some coins from someone, but if you steal a dye and make your own coins, hello. So if you think about them making these parts they had to take a box of 25 parts to the first operation and it may be break time. While break time they can not leave those dyes out. They've got to take them and check them back into the vault. Go on break, come back from break, check them back out, go to the machine, machine the rest of that operation. Same things going to happen on UP 20 and UP 30. Now they come to the machine with the help of Gosiger automation, they helped us put the automation together. They load all 25 parts in, they hit the go button, do some barcode scanning, the machine starts running, the robots start loading parts.

Jim Carr: Wow.

Randy Jokerst: And they take away the 25 in a matter of hours.

Jim Carr: Wow.

Jason Zenger: That's great.

Jim Carr: Fantastic.

Jason Zenger: Randy, thank you for the service of manufacturing, and we appreciate you for coming as a guest on MakingChips.

Jim Carr: If you want to get a hold of Randy you can link in with him on LinkedIn.

Jason Zenger: Yes, on LinkedIn.

Jim Carr: Randy I'll spell the last name it's J-O-K-E-R-S-T.

Jason Zenger: So Jim we talked about how Zenger's is operating their ERP system so we can offer that online experience for our client. But when you told me that you actually use your ERP system pro-shop in discussions with your clients I was like really a machine shop? Using our ERP system? With perspectives in their clients? Tell me about that.

Jim Carr: Well it's kind of unique but what we're doing now when we're doing a lot of prospecting with new OEAMs do business with. We get them on a video chat and we share our screen, and we let the pro-shop ERP system be part of the sales feature. I take them through the entire estimating process, I show them how the through put of the work comes in as an estimate and all the way out to when we finish and ship the job. Every single operation is itemized within the ERP system, there's times involved for setup, minutes run for part, checking the part. [crosstalk 00:23:30]

Jason Zenger: So you think it's just a higher level of professionalism that most machine shops aren't doing?

Jim Carr: Bingo. And the thing is it's cutting out all the nonsense and it's making everything black and white. And you know what at the end of the day Jason, the numbers don't lie. So if you can show somebody the number they're going to believe you. So go to pro-shop ERP talk to our good friend Paul Van meter there. He'll be happy to hook you up with some kind of demonstration so I'm not just telling-

Jason Zenger: Telling MakingChips than you.

Jim Carr: Pro-shop ERP.

Jason Zenger: I'd like to welcome to the stage our next guest, his name is Brad Klippstein. Brad is the supervisor of the products specialist group and controls product specialists at Okuma America corporation. He joined Okuma in 2014, but has close to 10 years of industry experience, mainly focused around OSP and fanic control systems. Brad is responsible for teaching customers the benefits and functionality of Okuma controls. While fostering new technological enhancements. He holds a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Toledo. Welcome Brad.

Brad Klippstein: Jim, Jason. Thanks so much for having me. Thanks for coming in today guys.

Jim Carr: Yeah so

Brad Klippstein: Happy to be here.

Jason Zenger: Yeah.

Jim Carr: I know we just read, I just read your Bio-off, tell them that'll working nation the people that are out there across America that are going to be hearing this show for the first time, about you. How did you get your start in manufacturing? Because Jason and I say often people just do not understand our industry. They're oblivious to it and you know quite frankly there's a big skills gap going on in America right now, in this industry. So you're a relatively young guy, what drove-

Brad Klippstein: Relatively.

Jim Carr: Compared to me you are. But what drove you to this industry? What did you like about it? What attracted you to this industry?

Brad Klippstein: Absolutely, I was fresh out of college looking for a job and I-

Jim Carr: With this engineering degree.

Brad Klippstein: Engineering degree what am I going to do?

Jim Carr: What are you going to do?

Brad Klippstein: A million opportunities, my background was kind of in programming. In electronics, electrical engineering is pretty involved. So I'm out looking for a job and I found a job with a machine tool company at a machine fair, right? And the way they kind of spun it to me, or they way they really attracted me was the way they talked about the kind of work that I would be doing. I wouldn't be necessarily running a CNC but they said, "Do you want to program robots?".

Jim Carr: Oh that was-

Brad Klippstein: And I was like-

Jim Carr: That was the magic word.

Brad Klippstein: What?

Jim Carr: That was the light bulb

Brad Klippstein: That sounds awesome. Absolutely I want to do that. Tell me a little more about what you guys do and what kind of robots I would be programming because that just sounds really fun.

Jim Carr: Sounds cool.

Brad Klippstein: That hooked me.

Jim Carr: It sounds cool.

Brad Klippstein: Right off the bat.

Jason Zenger: So I remember, I think it was about six years ago, maybe seven years ago, I took my daughter to IMTS, she was probably six at the time and robots are fun.

Brad Klippstein: Absolutely.

Jason Zenger: You know what I mean, you watch movies and Star Wars, robots, that's what gets people hooked into our industry and I think we should promote that.

Brad Klippstein: Oh my gosh absolutely, and that's the way I kind of like to talk about what we do here. We're not just running CNC's we're programming robots, we're on the leading edge of technology. I heard you talking to Randy about all these new innovations. The laser metal deposition technologies, Laser additives, subtractive.

Jim Carr: That was so cool.

Brad Klippstein: You know what and more at the forefront of all of these technologies so it's so interesting to see some of these new applications and approaches that guys here in Okuma come up with everyday.

Jason Zenger: You need to come up with a robot that can replace Jim with a robot.

Brad Klippstein: No problem.

Jason Zenger: Sooner no. Thank you.

Jim Carr: I need to retire in a couple of years.

Jason Zenger: So we've talked with Randy about the Thinc's developer group quite a bit and got the background on that. So tell us from your perspective how has the Thinc's developer groups specifically guided the development of the controls in the Okuma?

Brad Klippstein: Oh absolute, so the Thinc's developers group helps lead any of these developments. Some of which you've already talked about, you talked about some of these apps, right? And that's really what the Thinc's developers group is responsible for doing. Not coming up with these new ideas-

Jim Carr: Not coming- This is all new to me, so I just want to make it clear, so it's not an app on a phone. I'm not going to the Google Play store and I'm not downloading an app. It's an app that is integrated into the Okuma control right?

Brad Klippstein: Actually you can go our App store.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Brad Klippstein: At

Jim Carr: Alright.

Brad Klippstein: Download these for free.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Brad Klippstein: And they will operate on your machine tool. On your Okuma machine tool.

Jim Carr: Okay. Gotcha. Right, because Windows is inside of the Okuma CNC

Brad Klippstein: It is completely integrated with Windows which allows us to do that. So, we have this layer in between the NC side, the G-code side.

Jim Carr: Right.

Brad Klippstein: And then the Windows side. The graphical side. What you can touch, what you can feel, what you see on the screen, this layer in between that is called our application program interphase. That's where we play, the Thinc's developers group. That's the realm that we play in.

Jim Carr: API. That's the sandbox for everyone's [crosstalk 00:28:43].

Brad Klippstein: That's the sandbox absolutely. So that's how we can communicate all of these data points. All of these commands that you want to do from the screen to the machine tool through this layer. So and it's that integration.

Jim Carr: Cool. Do you turn it into the vision into the one's and zero's, that you need to run the machine.

Brad Klippstein: So cool. Absolutely. Come up with an idea, as Randy had talked about.

Jim Carr: He's the software guy too. Yeah.

Brad Klippstein: I'm the software guy right? So it's nice because we do have this opened sandbox right? You talked about it. We have the ability to create this custom applications that we had no idea were even available or that we could fathom or capable. Because it is completely open to all these new ideas. I think the big thing with the Thinc's developers group is that we bring in customers, we bring in our partners, our vendors obviously, Okuma personnel. All these great minds come to together and discuss better ways to help our customers be productive. Oh, a customer came to me with this idea, let's try to run with that. How can we create that nice interphase that allows them to do what they want to do, easily.

Jim Carr: Randy we talk a lot about acronyms and quite frankly I get a little confused with all.

Brad Klippstein: Me too.

Jim Carr: We just talk about API.

Brad Klippstein: Yeah.

Jim Carr: What OSP, we talked a little about OSP can you tell us a little bit about what that acronym means? And just dive into it a little bit? What's it all about?

Brad Klippstein: Yeah, no problem. Good question. So OSP stands for Okuma Sampling Path.

Jim Carr: And what does it mean?

Brad Klippstein: It means we have the ability to access to read, to write, tens of thousands of different data points in the control. That gives you the ability to sample that information, read, write to it, and make that machine operate the way that you told it to on that HMI or on that screen.

Jason Zenger: I got another acronym OEE. What is OEE?

Brad Klippstein: That's a good one. Overall Equipment Efficiency.

Jason Zenger: Okay. And I-

Jim Carr: I need a little bit of that in my shop.

Brad Klippstein: Oh doesn't everybody?

Jim Carr: I'm telling ya.

Jason Zenger: And how does Thinc impact OEE?

Brad Klippstein: I think we've created quite a few inter phases we're constantly trying to make the information that our customers feel is relevant, more accessible to them in offline scenarios. So, through our control like I said we've got tens of thousands of these data points they're available for you to read. What do you really care about? The ability to customize all of that information, group it together in a way that makes sense to you and me so that you can make business decisions based on that data? That's key right there.

Jim Carr: And speaking of data let's talk a little bit about MT connect because MT connect is all about harvesting data from the CNC. Interpreting that data and making the OEE run better right?

Brad Klippstein: Absolutely.

Jim Carr: So tell us a little bit about how Okuma machine tools take data through MT connect, harvest that information and how we all learn from that.

Brad Klippstein: Absolute, what's great about the Okuma control is we already have that capability available for you when the machine hits the floor. We've got this MT connect Jim that you mentioned, already available on new machines. So that your interphase for all of this data, you don't have to know what information I would've pulled [crosstalk 00:32:14].

Jim Carr: Is it like an ethernet cable or is it?

Brad Klippstein: You'd plug the machine and with an ethernet cable.

Jim Carr: Okay. Through an ethernet cable. Okay.

Brad Klippstein: Yeah you'd net work the machine. Good question. But this is the adapter on the back end.

Jim Carr: Okay it's an adapter okay.

Brad Klippstein: Yeah, it's the adapter and that's basically allowing you to take all of that information and pull it via this data stream to your computer, to your smart device so that you can see spindle up time, tool life, what program I ran, how long I ran it, what machine maintenance is required, what buttons the operator was hitting. Uh-oh watch out.

Jim Carr: Wow. Well that's pretty comprehensive.

Brad Klippstein: That's a lot right?

Jim Carr: Yeah wow. But there is no additional fees for that MT connect, it's totally built into the price of the machine is that?

Brad Klippstein: Yeah, so MT connect is a royalty free open source software. It's nothing that Okuma came up with. Although we did help, we were on the panel with other machine tool builders, with other vendors to help create that data base if you will. Here's tags of information that are available for all these different devices. What MT connect does is it takes whatever device whatever machine tool you have and it puts it into a common thread. So once you've had that common thread now I've got a ton of offline capabilities because it's all fed throughout that single thread. I'm not sure if that makes sense but-

Jim Carr: It's a little overwhelming for me to think. My question Brad is, once we extract this data...

Brad Klippstein: Yeah.

Jim Carr: How do we interpret it?

Brad Klippstein: Oh.

Jim Carr: Is that-

Brad Klippstein: That's a million dollar question.

Jim Carr: Is that the million dollar question?

Brad Klippstein: Oh boy.

Jim Carr: Because that's what I'm thinking is the machine shop owner, I mean I can just imagine you just went through about 5 to 10 bullet points about the types of information that we're extracting from the machine tool, spindle time, UP time, DOWN time, tool ware, the health of the machine tool, so how do we take that data? How do we read it?

Brad Klippstein: So you need some type of interphase on your computer, on your smart device, some type of dashboard, [crosstalk 00:34:28].

Jim Carr: Oh it's a dashboard based?

Brad Klippstein: Dashboard based.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Brad Klippstein: So we can view it in a ton a different ways. There's a lot of these dashboards are partners that are here today on our summer show case, can show you some of the dashboards that are available to you. But you're right, you have to be able to view that in some type of format that makes sense to you and me. So once we have that in some type of dashboard environment, know you're able to take the next step and make decisions based on what it's telling you. So let me give you a quick example.

Jim Carr: Yeah I'd like to know.

Brad Klippstein: Let's say you're using this empty connect that we continue to talk about to monitor a few machines. Let's say three to five machines, throughout the course of a day. Now I've taken a job or somebody's work out of the equation of going around all these machines and figuring out how they ran throughout the course of a day. Somebody doesn't have to take a pad and a paper walk around the machine and say, "Okay, this one ran for 6 hours, this one ran for 2, oh I used an expired three of my tools for the day so I'll have to change these for tomorrow. By the way here's the Pms, here's a dirty filter that will need to replace probably next week, but I'm not sure. But I'll write it down anyway.". Take that out of the equation. That tedious effort that needs to be taken everyday and have that automated with this system that's already in place for you.

Jim Carr: So is it much like our Google calender, does it set a reminder that we need to change out that filter on our cooling tank?

Brad Klippstein: Absolutely. That's the next step-

Jim Carr: Is it that simple?

Brad Klippstein: Yeah that'd be the next step absolutely. So I can pull that information and can set those type of reminders in a condition based system so really what we're doing is we're moving from a reactive environment right? Reactive to planned, maybe I'm doing this everyday.

Jim Carr: Right.

Brad Klippstein: The next step is what we're talking about. Move into a condition based system. We're creating logic we're creating systems that are in place to help automate this. Just with the resources remember we already have. I haven't sold anything yet have I?

Jim Carr: Right.

Jason Zenger: So going back to the controls, which is what the Thinc's developers group primarily works with, what is the future of the controls of the machine to look like?

Brad Klippstein: I think it's going to be more intuitive, more interactive, there is a ton of capability that we have with our control systems.

Jim Carr: What can anticipate in like 1 to 3 years? Where do you see that really? Because there's got to be that one area that's really strong that you guys are really killing it on.

Brad Klippstein: Oh yes. I would say the setup process. The time it takes to setup your material, setup your tooling, we need to continue to make that a more automated a more easy process for operators and for setup guys on the floor.

Jason Zenger: Could you give us a hint, like what exactly does that look like? How can you speed that up?

Jim Carr: Well we're using probing systems.

Brad Klippstein: Probing systems?

Jim Carr: We're using quick change tools, so we're codling is a big part of that too-

Brad Klippstein: We're codling too.

Jim Carr: And I'm not sure there's plenty of partners here, that are helping you and collaborating with you on that process.

Brad Klippstein: And Jim do you know how they do that?

Jim Carr: No, tell me.

Brad Klippstein: They do that with our API.

Jim Carr: Okay.

Brad Klippstein: Through our control, so if they come up with a good idea that makes that setup process a little more graphical, easier to do. They come to us with that idea and say, "Hey, let's throw that on the control".

Jim Carr: Aw, beautiful.

Brad Klippstein: Because now I don't have a paper with my process sheet. I want that interactive, I want the machine to tell the operator what to do, and when to do it.

Jim Carr: Just to keep it simple.

Brad Klippstein: Keep it simple.

Jim Carr: Keep it simple.

Brad Klippstein: Keep it simple. Absolutely.

Jason Zenger: What do you see the machine tool being able to do in the future that it can't do today?

Brad Klippstein: I think we talked a little bit about the laser metal deposition process, the laser additive and subtractive in a hybrid environment. I see that as kind of a growing trend in our industry as well.

Jason Zenger: In a real application what does that look like?

Brad Klippstein: Picture a die/mold shop.

Jim Carr: Picture a what?

Brad Klippstein: Die/mold.

Jim Carr: Oh a di-

Brad Klippstein: Die/mold shop with a damaged die. What are your options? With trying to repair that thing. Probably pretty limited. You'd have to basically renew the machine another piece from scratch. But with our laser metal deposition process we can actually repair it.

Jim Carr: It's really cool.

Brad Klippstein: Build the material up and machine it again.

Jason Zenger: And then machine it right off again.

Brad Klippstein: Yeah.

Jason Zenger: Get it right back to new.

Brad Klippstein: And actually Jason, you can see that in our demo here.

Jim Carr: I just went back there it's really cool.

Brad Klippstein: Yeah, we're basically taken a hunk of material out of a little block and then putting it back on our laser metal deposition machine back there our MU 8000. Building it up and machining it off again. Back to sp-

Jim Carr: Brad, we asked Randy about a success story, because people love to hear about success stories.

Brad Klippstein: Yep.

Jim Carr: About the Thinc's developers group, can you think back about all the years you've been involved in it and can you think of a specific success story that you saw in your own eyes that a light bulb went off in your own head and said, "Wow I can't believe that we helped assist this shop do something so profound and saved them time, money, and effort.".

Brad Klippstein: Great question Jim. Yeah I think I can. This was probably about six or eight years ago.

Jim Carr: Wow.

Brad Klippstein: So we've got-

Jim Carr: And the technology has gone leaps and bowns already.

Brad Klippstein: Oh it has. Absolutely.

Jim Carr: So this six to eight years ago, when you actually saw it first hand.

Brad Klippstein: Yeah, we've had this control for about fifteen years. The capabilities that we've got today are just continuing to build on what platform we've already got. The example I'll give you is the ability to lock out different functions on the machine. While I tell you about all of these cool things we can do with it, you have to lock some people out of those features-

Jim Carr: Mean not open the door or override the spindle or-

Brad Klippstein: Make tool length offsets.

Jim Carr: Oh

Brad Klippstein: Set work off sets, change parameters, that they probably shouldn't be changing on the machine.

Jim Carr: So what you saw six to eight years ago that was profound. And that was birthed out of the Thinc's developers group was the fact that you could lock people out from overriding those types of things.

Brad Klippstein: Lock them out, give them a password, now the control gives you access, you as the operator access to things that your administrator or the shop floor supervisor has granted you access to.

Jim Carr: Got it.

Brad Klippstein: So you can't even access the machine parameter page because you don't have the access provided by your administrator.

Jason Zenger: And how have you seen that change the processes of a shop and helped them save money?

Brad Klippstein: Well, scrape rates first, less machine crashes, anticipating.

Jason Zenger: Okay.

Brad Klippstein: Probably more efficient work flow across the shop floor because people are only given access to the things they can change or should change. So now I'm giving access to my more experienced or more supervised guys that should have access to that. Which means everybody else shouldn't really be given that access and less potential for accidents to happen.

Jim Carr: Exactly.

Jason Zenger: Well thank you, appreciate.

Jim Carr: Thanks guys.

Jason Zenger: You coming on stage with us.

Jim Carr: Pleasure coming on stage with us, pleasure to finally meet you, we've talked quite a bit over the last couple of weeks.

Brad Klippstein: Absolutely

Jim Carr: I'm confident that our discussion today equipped and inspired the manufacturing leader out there somewhere.

Brad Klippstein: Well really appreciate you guys coming in today and really appreciate your time. Jim, Jason, thanks so much guys.

Jim Carr: Thanks bud. Mr. Zenger.

Jason Zenger: You learned something?

Jim Carr: I did learn something today. It's refreshing to be here quite frankly. 19 CNC machine tools, under power and cutting metal, I heard that this is the 15th that Okuma's put on this summer show case and it's just, I'm always excited about coming into these conferences and seeing all the new technology because I'm going to go back tomorrow to Chicago. And I'm going to bring one small piece of information that I learn here today to my shop to be better runned tomorrow. How about you?

Jason Zenger: That's what's it's all about taking that one bit, something that you learned in order to make your shop better.

Jim Carr: Yeah.

Jason Zenger: I agree.

Jim Carr: And tell the people that are listening to use right now, how to subscribe to the Boring Bar.

Jason Zenger: I think we've already talked about that.

Jim Carr: I know but I want you to tell them again.

Jason Zenger: I don't remember the number.

Jason Zenger: 38470

Jim Carr: Because everyone's listening, you text C-H-I-P-S to 38470. And thank you Mr. Alguner who's out there in the audience there. We really appreciate it.

Jason Zenger: And thanks to Okuma for having us.

Jim Carr: Yeah it's been a real pleasure thank you everybody.

Speaker 6: Metal Working Nation, listen up, manufacturing is challenging you need to think differently. The day to day world [inaudible 00:43:08] urgencies, the question to grow, customer demands, workforce development, new machine tools and robots, the list goes on and on. It is possible to stay ahead of the game of manufacturing but you can't do it alone. We're here to give you access or exclusive content from [inaudible 00:43:26]. As well as videos, blogs, show [inaudible 00:43:30] to more resources designed to equip and inspire you on MakingChips.


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