On-Machine Expert System Permits Real-Time Monitoring

March 1, 2009

This software package bundles real-time process monitoring, remote diagnosis, troubleshooting, data recording and statistical analysis, maintenance and service monitoring - and so much more. Combined with a robust graphical interface, machine fault identification and correction are swift and easy.

SAM real time monitoring

Real-time monitoring and remote diagnosis are now possible thanks to SAM.

This software package bundles real—time process monitoring, remote diagnosis, troubleshooting, data recording and statistical analysis, maintenance and service monitoring—and so much more. Combined with a robust graphical interface, machine fault identification and correction are swift and easy.

It's called simply the Service Assistant Module (SAM), and it's the key to higher machine up time in precision and ultra precision class machining centers.

The latest development by StarragHeckert, SAM is available on the company's STC, LX, HEC and CWK machine lines and works in conjunction with their Siemens controls.

"Permanently increasing productivity requirements for modern machining systems calls for innovative monitoring technology, technology that provides an operator — with just a touch of a button — all the relevant information about the current condition of both machine and control system," said Greg Dunkley, vice president/general manager of StarragHeckert's North America.

SAM is a new visualization system that features different machine/process diagnostic configuration levels, significantly enhancing machine up time and increasing the machine's added value.

"State–of–the–art machining centers are highly complex systems with ever increasing service and maintenance requirements, which place high demands on both the machine operator and service personnel," he added. "With this in view, StarragHeckert has designed an 'expert system' that improves the ease of operation and renders technical complexity more transparent. SAM enables the user to better understand and optimally handle the machine and its wide diversity of components."

Increasing Productivity

The reduction of unproductive idle times directly influences productivity and minimizes production costs. SAM plans and supervises all service and maintenance activities, and the StarragHeckert—developed remote online diagnosis system guarantees the optimal use of all resources.

SAM's modular design offers seven different independent functions, each of which can be installed on all StarragHeckert machining centers equipped with a Siemens control. Additional modules can be retrofitted to existing systems at any time. In the past, only SPS specialists with specialized equipment could perform a detailed machine diagnosis. Today, inter—functionary programs enable real—time process monitoring at the machine or at a remote PC. Its objective is to minimize machine downtime and offer shop employees of all skill levels a means to diagnose problems on their own.

Maximizing Information

Abstract process diagrams, inter—functionary diagrams, machine electrical diagrams and other detailed information guarantee efficient identification of machine failures and immediate troubleshooting.


This module allows efficient storage of all relevant contact information about StarragHeckert, such as contact person, phone and fax numbers, or e—mail addresses. This effects smooth communication between machine operators and StarragHeckert, which minimizes response times on both sides.

SAM Screenshot

Detailed information guarantees efficient identification of machine failures and immediate troubleshooting.


Send user—defined alarms and other messages by SMS (text messages) or e—mail to another PC or mobile phone. Optionally, another module announces machine failures virtually in any place in the world, allowing immediate response by taking appropriate measures.

A status indicator enables the system to be activated or deactivated by definition of a time slot and display of the previous 'alarm history'. All system functions can be switched on or off by soft key at any time. A 'phone book' comfortably stores numbers and e—mail addresses, where filters even allow the definition of single persons or groups of people who are to be informed about machine failures.


Directly access in electronic form the complete machine documentation at any time, thus eliminating time—consuming searches in folders.

"All relevant information is clearly structured and ensures fast access to the document required," said Dunkley. "The complete range of installation, operation and maintenance instructions for the machine is also available online. Furthermore, lists of spare parts, subcontract components, circuit diagrams, fluid plans, hydraulic plans and other important machine data are easily called—up. All documents are directly available through a table of contents, while a full—text search allows fast and flexible indexing of keyword—based queries. All documents, which contain the defined search term, are listed and can be directly accessed."


Machine operators are always up—to—date regarding all service and maintenance activities. Required maintenance activities are listed by priority; dates for upcoming maintenance checks are automatically calculated.

All service activities are clearly arranged in tables: the machine component which needs to be maintained; the single component part; the maintenance measure to be taken; the time intervals in operating hours; the date of the previous maintenance check and the date of the next maintenance check.

The system provides the machine operator with detailed instructions about the required maintenance activities, which are clearly structured and illustrated by various graphics. A confirmation by a person in charge or another person is possible as well.


This module records machine data, messages and alarms over a longer period of time, providing the machine operator with reliable data about the machine condition in general and machine up—time or failures which are vital for optimum machine performance. All significant data is directly analyzed on the machine by the operator: reason for the machine failure; analysis of the machine condition; definition of machine parameters; compiling of protocols and logbooks; recording of alarms and other messages.

Bar charts present all relevant data concerning machine condition, failures, up time and utilization. Additional information also can be listed for data evaluation, which makes this module a crucial instrument for detailed, individual system analysis.


This module has been designed for fast and targeted troubleshooting. Apart from the actual error message, all relevant information is submitted in detail in clear, useful graphics and step—by—step visual guides that facilitate troubleshooting. All potential errors are stored in a knowledge database, where they are complemented by additional information.

Errors are displayed in tables and include error number, consequences for the system functions, detailed description of error and its cause, recommended activities for the elimination of the error, including instructions about the exact procedure and errors, which contain a link to the visual user guidance, are specifically marked.

"The link is easily followed by a single keystroke. A survey chart indicates all possible sources of errors, before the system directs the user step—by—step to the actual machine failure source, offering ever more detailed information complemented by pictures and graphics, such as circuit diagrams," he said. "The program efficiently supports the service and maintenance personnel in fast and easy troubleshooting."


Designed for real time remote diagnosis of the system through an online data link to a PLC/NC, this module represents the machining center at its location, in the intranet, extranet and Internet.

Data are readily abstracted and visualized to ensure optimum user—friendliness. Clearly structured process charts give a fast survey of complex processes, while the interactive representation of machine assemblies with their sensors and actuators allows the monitoring of the entire machine condition.

When a fault arises, the program will guide the user, via an intuitive operator panel next to the control, to the source of the error.

A hard disk contains a record of all messages, machine conditions and other information — including customer—defined events and conditions — and will activate messages, e—mails or SMS. This information ensures targeted evaluations, their statistical analysis and systematic process monitoring.

The inter—functionary diagrams provide a look into the machine software. These diagrams are created by ladder logic and represent all conditions that need to be met for each of the functions.

The log files allow the analysis of the recorded data. However, the system is not just suited for specifically skilled personnel, but also allows personnel of many skill levels to directly address the elimination of costly and time—consuming errors without further consultation or assistance.