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Retrofit of a 12 Station Rotary Dial Machining Cell Using Programmable Numeric Control (PNC)


Retrofit was able to increase capacity and performance of rotary dial machining cell.


Custom automation machine builder and systems integrator for advanced manufacturing and material handling facilities.


The customer was asked to provide options for upgrading an outdated machining cell based on computer numeric control (CNC). The equipment is used to manufacture metal driveshaft yokes for the automotive industry. They were looking to retrofit their CNC machine with a new control system. The original machining cell was no longer meeting productivity goals, and the new equipment was too expensive. They also wanted to address the issue of the CNC system being based on closed programming code that could not be easily changed.


The 12-station rotary dial machine features robotic load and unload and can handle more than 12 different part styles with customizable recipes. The enclosed machining cell includes 32 servo axes and 15 spindles – and occupies a footprint of approximately 2,500 square feet. When it comes to CNC machines, it is about as complex as machine there is.


A standard Rockwell Automation control platform with programmable numeric control (PNC) was offered as a solution. The PNC solution controls the machine just like CNC. The PNC system interprets the G-code programs and is fully customizable to match the application requirements. An Allen-Bradley® ControlLogix® controller for standard control, including a robotic interface, and an Allen-Brady GuardLogix® safety controller had to be used in conjunction because of how large the machine is. A PowerFlex 527 AC drive controls the spindles, with Kinetix 5700 servo drives and motors control the motion axes. The machine is integrated on an EtherNet/IP™ network and monitored on an Allen-Bradley PanelView™ Plus 7 graphic terminals. For flexible monitoring, the Allen-Bradley MobileView™ tethered operator terminals are included. This allows operators the ability to access HMI applications and maintain line-of-sight when making tooling adjustments.


There has been remarkable success with this machine, and on its initial run, the machine produced a week’s worth of parts in just a half day. The machines capacity is approximately three times more than what it was before the retrofit.

Products and services used

  • Allen-Bradley MobileView
  • ControlLogix
  • EtherNet/IP™
  • GuardLogix
  • Kinetix 5700
  • PanelView™ Plus 7
  • Rockwell Automation control platform
  • PowerFlex 527