Q&A with Curt Christensen

Manager of CNC Aftermarket Support
FANUC America Corporation

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Please tell us a little about yourself and your role at Fanuc America.

I have been with Fanuc for over 25 years in a variety of roles including applications support, field service management, business development, and aftermarket support. Fanuc products have been around since the advent of numerical controls in the 1950s. Today, Fanuc is the world’s leading provider of CNC systems, industrial robotics, and RoboMachines. Fanuc America’s headquarters is in Rochester Hills, Michigan, and we have locations across North and South America.

What are the industries that Fanuc America serves?

Fanuc products perform a wide range of manufacturing and general automation functions, so we are involved in virtually every industry, including automotive, aerospace, energy, medical, foods, packaging/palletizing, pharmaceuticals, paint and coatings, welding, and many others.

Describe your company’s products for gear manufacturing.

Fanuc products cover a wide spectrum of factory automation, including CNC systems, motion control, robotic systems, and RoboMachines, which include RoboDrill (mill/drill/tap centers), RoboCut (wire EDM), and RoboShot (injection molding machines). We also produce CO2 and fiber laser systems. Our CNC products are used by many of the top gear machine companies. Gear manufacturers use our robot products in load/unload and deburr applications. Our RoboDrill and RoboCut products are used in the direct manufacturing of gears for virtually all industries.

What is it about Fanuc America that sets it apart from others in the same industry?

Fanuc is the world leader in CNC and factory automation, and our products have built a reputation for reliability and functionality. We want to deliver solutions. Our systems provide the lowest total cost of ownership and the highest mean time between failure rate (for up to 52 years for CNC) in the industry. Through our Service First commitment, we support all of our products for as long as they are in service.

How is automation changing the gear manufacturing industry?

As the demand for more gear-related products continues to rise, the need to produce higher quantities with greater quality will push the industry to a higher level of automation. Robotic applications can increase production line throughput with the advantage of increased reliability and productivity.

What are the advantages to using Fanuc products offered to gear manufacturers?

We offer a wide variety of products so that we can answer just about any machining or automation need that gear manufacturers have. Whether they are doing basic machining or highly complex, 5-axis precision machining, we have products to help. Fanuc robots can be integrated with our iRVision products to improve quality control while increasing throughput.

Please share an example of how you worked with a customer to develop a solution to solve a production issue.

An automotive company came to us with a gear-related production issue — the “pinch point” in their production cycle was associated with their ability to quickly drill numerous holes in a ring gear application. We combined a Fanuc CNC, one of our RoboDrill products, and Fanuc robots to develop a production cell that far exceeded the customer’s production expectations — on a common platform and at a fraction of the cost of other manufacturers.

What are your biggest challenges that you see in today’s manufacturing?

There are two big focus points developing in today’s manufacturing industry: predictive maintenance and production information systems. The work that Fanuc is doing in these two areas is significant, with the development of our ZDT initiative as well as with the new Fanuc Intelligent Edge Link and Drive (FIELD) system. Fanuc is collaborating with Cisco, Rockwell Automation, and Preferred Networks (PFN) to develop and deploy the FIELD system. This is a shift in the industry as IoT, industrial automation, and machine learning are making the factory of the future a reality. It’s been talked about for years, but now it’s really happening. Come to IMTS 2016 and see these products in action.

What training do you offer?

Fanuc America offers a complete line of product training for our products including Fanuc robots, RoboDrills, and CNC products. Our training is focused not only on the use of the products, but also applications and maintenance training.

What is in the future for Fanuc America?

Fanuc will continue to focus on developing industry-leading products and services for robotics, CNC systems, and factory automation solutions. As our customers face new challenges, we will be there with products and solutions to help them stay on top of their game.

Tell us about your booth at IMTS 2016.

We are showing many CNC, robotic, and factory automation technologies that help customers solve manufacturing challenges and stay competitive. These solutions include a new CNC operator interface, our new FIELD system concept, and an expanded collaborative robot line. Stop by Booth #S-8919 or #NC-619 in the Student Summit.

FOR MORE INFORMATION  www.fanucamerica.com