CNC MACHINE TOOLS: the way to prevent machine downtimes

If you use Machine Tools and CNC Machining Centers, you are perfectly aware of the fact that this problem scares most of the insiders and produciton managers.

You know … machine downtime spreads panic through the company.

But I am sure that you have already faced this problem and I am sure that it was not a very good experience, or rather, you wanted to avoid it at all.

Clearly, you are wondering:

“Why are you so sure that this thing happened to me in the past?”


The answer is very simple and so logical.

Generally speaking, all Machine Tools and Machining Centers require regular maintenance to keep high performance.

No machine or mechanism in the world can continue to work without a good “servicing”.

Machine downtime strikes terror in the company.

You know exactly when the machine stopped, but you have no idea when it will start producing again.

This situation turns into panic because every minute of unplanned stop could cost a lot in terms of profitability and company performance.

At this point, imagine the scene…

A deluge of phone calls to the maintenance departments and the manufacturer who gave you the machine, begging to avert the disaster.

But where does this delirious pressure come from?

Certainly from the delivery promises and deadlines that you absolutely must keep, because otherwise it would mean not respecting well-defined clauses in the contract signed with the customer.


Yet the machine is KO. How to react?


I don’t want to make the thought of this situation even heavier, but you know very well that today the competition is fierce and this kind of situation would open a window for your competitors.

The ones who can’t wait to steal customers and market share.

This is not allowable, you cannot afford it, so it’s very important to implement a productive strategy to prevent and better deal with these situations.


How can you keep from falling into this nightmare?


The issue of the reliability of the Machine Tool starts way back and it‘s not just about Preventive Maintenance of the machine.

Preventive and Predictive Maintenance are certainly 2 important steps, but they are only the last piece of a well-defined strategy, developed by the machine manufacturer.

A topic you should seriously question yourself is about the real costs hidden behind your machines.

Most people pay attention only to the purchasing cost of the machine, but I can assure you that this method of evaluation is totally wrong, now more than ever.

Do you know how much the Machine Tool installed in your production department really costs you?

I hope your answer is not “The purchasing cost of the machine,” because you were completely way off base.


How to determine the real cost of a Machine Tool


The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is an approach developed by Gartner in 1987, and it is used to calculate the total cost of the life cycle of a machine, analysing the following items:

  1. PURCHASE (cost of the machine)
  2. INSTALLATION (cost of foundations, electrical systems, etc.)
  3. MANAGEMENT (personnel training, occupied area, energy consumption, etc.)
  4. MAINTENANCE (“servicing”, oil, filters, adjustments, etc.)


The TCO is an excellent method to measure total costs of ownership of your machine, identifying all expenses in a clear and easily quantifiable way.

Even today, many users are guided only by a thing, the PURCHASE, or the cost of the machine, leaving out the other 3 points and without thinking about the real important figure: the TCO.

This figure collects in a more complete way all the items that make up the cost of the machine.



Here’s how to organize the TCO thanks to the PORTA PRODUCTION METHOD


Having understood the importance of the TCO and keeping in mind the 4 items listed above, thanks to the PORTA Production Method you can make the TCO as cost-effective as possible for our customers.

For each of these 4 items, I will illustrate in detail how we have set up our strategy:


  1. PURCHASE (cost of the machine)

This cost is thought out by you as a customer, there is nothing that can be taught as to how to obtain the best price. Obviously, you try to purchase the machine at the lowest possible cost … and this is a good strategy.

From my point of view, as 3-Spindle Machine Tools manufacturer and consultant, in order to offer you the machine at the lowest possible price, I developed a standard machine, produced in series and in 2 sizes, the PORTACENTER 250 and the PORTACENTER 500, with all related benefits to meet your need.

To clarify, 250 identifies the 250mm working cube within which your piece must fit; alternatively, if larger, the PORTACENTER 500 can work pieces within a 500mm cube.


  1. INSTALLATION (cost of foundations, electrical systems, etc.)

Even in this case, considering the TCO, the 3-Spindle PORTACENTER machine has been used in a thesis written in collaboration with the University of Brescia. A theoretical study of vibrations was carried out, followed by a testing phase. A prototype was built and the real vibrations were measured using vibrational accelerometers in order to establish the rigidity of the machine and avoid foundation costs.

Moreover, the electrical cab and the hydraulic control unit were installed on the machine in order to minimize the installation costs, according to the PLUG&PLAY concept. The power supply cable and the compressed air hose is all you need. These two benefits will last over time, in case the machine needs to be repositioned for company layout needs.


  1. MANAGEMENT (personnel training, occupied area, energy consumption, etc.)

In order to impact as best as possible on the TCO factor, the machine management is split into different items, from personnel training to the software development phase; moreover, the user interface is equipped with a touch-screen to make it easy to use.

For staff training, it is possible to attend courses at the PORTA Production School, where we teach operators how to make the most of the 3-Spindle PORTACENTER machine.

Another important issue is the electricity consumption: with the latest-generation drives, the energy developed during the braking phase is regenerated and put back into the grid.

In addition, the machine takes up little space, in favour of reducing total costs.


  1. MAINTENANCE (“servicing”, oil, filters, adjustments, etc.)

Here we are at the sore point, the one that customers tend to struggle to understand, despite being rather trivial.

We assume that all users of Machine Tools have a car. They all take their car to the dealership or to a trustworthy mechanic in order to change oil, filters, etc.

Why doesn’t it happen also with the machines of a production department?


Unfortunately, maintenance is considered a mere cost, but the truth is that …

You have to do the same with a Machine Tool!


I could conclude here, but first I want to talk about one last thing.



the essential element for your production department


First of all, I would like to deal with a point that is clear to a few.

The Preventive Maintenance contract is not a warranty extension contract, but rather an additional contract for scheduled routine maintenance that lasts for one year.

No extraordinary repairs are carried out during scheduled maintenance service.

Furthermore, in terms of safety and health, the employer (the company) is required to guarantee that everything put at disposal of the workers (employees) for the activities carried out complies with the legislative provisions in force (Legislative Decree 81/2008).


Why a Preventive Maintenance contract is so important?


Here below, I’ll explain why this contract is worthwhile:

  • Increased productivity and no unscheduled machine downtimes.
  • Greater operator safety.
  • Compliance with safety regulations (Legislative Decree 81/2008).
  • Value retention of the machine over time.
  • Monitoring of management costs.
  • Fewer maintenance work.
  • Decrease of maintenance costs.
  • Shorter waiting time for spare parts.
  • Fast track maintenance service.
  • Continuous telephone assistance.
  • Preventive measures to avoid catastrophic and unexpected breakdowns, with consequent production downtime.
  • Constant monitoring of the efficiency of the machine.
  • 20% discount on hourly rate.


A “taboo” subject for many, but which is becoming increasingly important, if not essential, to keep high competitiveness of your own company.




If you are a user of Machine Tools and CNC Machining Centers for metalworking…



Take a few minutes to think about how your productivity could improve without unexpected, DANGEROUS and expensive downtimes, just because you didn’t intervene before.




Contact us now and ask for a FREE consultation with one of our TECHNICAL TUTORS.


Phone: +39 030-800673



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To your results,
Maurizio Porta