Many times since we first launched Techspex in 1996, users have suggested we expand querying function to enable machine search based on part configuration. In other words, instead of defining machine specs for the application, users might be able to define the part itself, then be shown machines that can do the job. We never attempted this approach because part processing is usually much more complicated than that. For instance, there may be one machine, such as a mill/turn center that can process a part complete. But based on volume, cycle time, tolerances, workholding, and other considerations, the job may be more optimally run on a lathe, a mill, and a grinder.
I suppose a decision tree might be included that also allowed the user to answer questions about volume, tolerance, budget, part value, number of shifts, etc. But frankly, I think there’s a practical limit when it comes to search engines. For instance, as good as Google is, one cannot enter keywords and get back a comprehensive list of 20-30 HP, single spindle, horizontal turning/milling centers, with 10”-15” chuck and at least 25” of turning length capacity. But this list of about 120 models made by 44 builders is easily discovered at Techspex. The point is that web apps should keep it simple or else they lose most of the audience that could otherwise benefit.
That being said, Okuma has introduced an interactive online “Parts Viewer” designed to aid users in the selection of Okuma machine models. Visitors to Okuma’s website can choose a part common to the Oil, Aerospace, or Automotive industries from exploded assembly views. Part size, volume, materials, and other variables can’t be specified. This app depends on Okuma’s own knowledge base in client part processing, which enables real world examples to be referenced. While a prospect’s own exact part can’t be used to identify the most appropriate machine to do the job, Okuma shares their approach to processing similar parts by outlining the operations performed on the machine(s). Sample parts can be viewed from any angle by clicking and dragging the part. Some parts are processed on multiple machines.
No, Okuma’s “Parts Viewer” does not enable users to define their parts in order to find Okuma’s ideal machine for the application. But it does show visitors generally how Okuma has processed similar parts on their machines. And this is a great way to help process engineers consider their options. Simple and useful.