Programmable Automation Technologies

An Introduction to CNC, Robotics, and PLCs

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Programmable Automation Technologies

Programmable Automation Technologies

An Introduction to CNC, Robotics, and PLCs

Daniel E. Kandray

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Divided into four parts, Programmable Automation Technologies focuses on processes and systems used in industry. Comprehensive yet concise, this unique textbook provides a solid foundation of analytical techniques to justify automation. It provides the knowledge and instruction on how to program computer numerical controlled (CNC) equipment, industrial robots and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).


Through a very practical approach, readers will learn specific programming languages related to each technology, including G code and ladder logic. And Programmable Automation Technologies is sure to be found useful by electrical, industrial, mechanical and manufacturing engineering technology undergraduate students. The rich and detailed introductory text will also appeal to anyone in industry interested in learning about programmable automation and developing the corresponding programming skills.



  • Each chapter begins with an overview of the topic with emphasis on desired outcomes and concludes with a summary, questions, and problems where appropriate.
  • Presents explicit skills and methodologies to aid in the programming process.
  • Features strong examples with numerous illustrations.
  • Uses computer simulation and actual lab equipment extensively in learning activities.

Programmable Automation Technologies

An Introduction to CNC, Robotics, and PLCs
Daniel E. Kandray


Daniel Kandray


  • M.T. Kent State University
  • Bachelor of Engineering; Youngstown State University

Professional Organizations & Licensures

  • Society of Manufacturing Engineers
  • Registered Professional Engineer, State of Ohio

Mini Bio: Assistant Professor Daniel Kandray is a faculty member in the Department of Engineering & Science Technology in Summit College at the University of Akron. He was previously a faculty member at Kent State University, Tusc campus from 2003.

Programmable Automation Technologies

An Introduction to CNC, Robotics, and PLCs
Daniel E. Kandray

3.1.1 Manual Machining and Numerical Control Technology

Manual machining is still used in industry for low volume applications, maintenance, and repair. In manual machining, mechanical technology in the form of slides, gears, belts, and feed screws implements a tool’s movement relative to a workpiece. A typical manual vertical milling machine is shown in Figure 3-1. A part is milled or machined by fastening the workpiece to the machine and moving the workpiece into the rotating cutter, held by the spindle, at a specific feed rate and depth of cut. Spindle rotational speed and direction is often controlled with gears or belts and pulleys. The workpiece is fastened to the machine with some type of fixturing. In Figure 3-1 the fixturing is a simple vise. The vise, in turn, is fastened to the mill table. The mill table, and hence the workpiece, can then be moved in three directions relative and perpendicular to the spindle.


Daniel Kandray F3

The Cartesian coordinate system supplies the layout of the directions in which the mill table can be moved. Again, as shown in Figure 3-1, the mill table can move longitudinally across the front of the machine. This is shown as the x direction in the figure. The table can also be moved at a right angle to the x direction, into the machine, designated as the y direction. The third direction is along the spindle axis, and is shown as the z direction. Linear bearings, called slides, or ways, both short for “slipways,” guide the movement of the table along each axis.


Figure 3-2 shows a manual vertical milling machine with exploded views of the x and y-axis slides and lead screws. The table is moved along a specific axis by turning the appropriate hand crank. This in turn drives the lead screw (or feed screw), which pushes or pulls the table along the slides. Figure 3-3 shows a closer view of the slides. Note that dovetail slides are used to constrain motion perpendicular to the sliding direction. The feed screws for each axis can also be powered by the machine and moved at specific speeds or rates.


Figure 3-3 shows such a machine, with the x-axis equipped with a power feed. Typically, in manual milling, powered table movement occurs in only one direction at a time. Standard operations for manual vertical mills are slot cutting, planing, and hole drilling. Movement that occurs between any pair of axes during the cutting operation is not very accurate and is difficult to accomplish. Cutting complex surfaces may require movement in the direction of all three axes. However, such an operation is not possible on a traditional manual mill; numerical control technology was developed to specifically address this limitation.


During the 1940s a contractor to the U.S. Air Force by the name of John Parsons began experimenting with methods to produce more accurate inspection templates for helicopter blades. The inspection templates were a complex airfoil shape. Machining these shapes accurately was a challenge. Parsons’ method involved calculating points along the airfoil’s shape and then, using two operators (one for each axis), manually moving the machine tool to each of these points. Because the calculations were so complex, Parsons used a punch card tabulating machine to perform the calculations. The punch cards would be fed into a card reader at the machine, which would read the data, then pass the information on to a machine controller, which in turn directed the motion of each of the machine axes.

Programmable Automation Technologies

An Introduction to CNC, Robotics, and PLCs
Daniel E. Kandray


For many years I taught an engineering technology course on robotics and flexible automation. I found that books that covered the fairly familiar concept of robotics were available, as were books that did an excellent job with computer numerical control (CNC) and programmable logic controllers (PLCs). However, books that truly addressed flexible automation were not so easy to find. In fact, it was very difficult to find a single text that incisively and usefully addressed all these engineering technology topics. So, throughout the years I collected and organized necessary and important information concerning flexible automation, from various sources, and disseminated it to my students. Armed with these notes, students would not need to purchase several books that would cover the course topics. Eventually, I decided to write the present book; with it I hope to fill a significant void in the literature.

Flexible automation is the use of a conglomeration of manufacturing equipment organized or connected into a single entity called a manufacturing cell. Manufacturing cells contain an assortment of material handling equipment, including robots and CNC processing equipment. Most often the cell’s activities are orchestrated and directed by a PLC. The robot, CNC equipment, and PLC make the cell “flexible,” as they can be programmed and reprogrammed to perform a wide variety of tasks and produce different products. This single text addresses all three technologies of robotics, CNC, and PLCs.


Yet, “flexible automation” is, in fact, a misnomer. While it is true that the term is appropriate for a specific manufacturing cell in which the technologies are employed, when grouping robotics, CNC, and PLCs under a collective banner, one should highlight what these technologies have in common—namely, “programmability.” Therefore, these technologies are collectively named “programmable automation technologies,” and this book is so titled: Programmable Automation Technologies: An Introduction to CNC, Robotics and PLCs.


While I was writing this text, the nation’s—indeed the world’s—economy plunged into a severe recession. To rise from the current economic turmoil the manufacturing industry must become more productive, a goal that is readily achievable through automation. Programmable automation technologies are the building blocks from which all automation is developed. Hence, the urgent need to improve productivity and become more competitive in the global economy should motivate a significantly greater interest in programmable automation.


The present text is organized into a four sections, which follow a logical sequence of inquiry. The first section is introductory: Chapter 1 provides some background on manufacturing and defines programmable automation. Chapter 2 explains calculation methods used to justify automation expenditures, as motivated by productivity concepts. The second section treats computer numerical control: Chapter 3 introduces CNC technology, Chapter 4 discusses CNC programming, and Chapter 5 addresses CNC simulation. Robotics is covered in the third section in much the same way that CNC was covered in the second section: Chapter 6 introduces robotics technology and Chapter 7 goes over both robotic programming and simulation. (Note that robotic simulation does not have a dedicated chapter.) The last section of the text addresses PLCs: Chapter 8 introduces PLCs and Chapter 9 covers programming and simulation of PLCs. Finally, Chapter 10 concludes the text with a discussion of how all three technologies are brought together to create a programmable automation cell.


Engineering technology students at two- and four-year colleges comprise the book’s primary audience. However, anyone with a technical background and a general understanding of manufacturing and manufacturing processes will find this text useful, as well as to those who wish, simply, to study and understand the use of these technologies. Engineering technology is an applied science, so its students need to learn much more than theory: They need also practical knowledge, skills, and abilities that will allow them to readily apply automation technology. For this reason, the text offers plentiful examples and identifies and discusses readily available simulation software with which the reader can experiment.


I welcome and look forward to feedback from students, instructors and the general reader. Please write to me at and the publisher will forward your messages to me.

  Dan Kandray

Programmable Automation Technologies

An Introduction to CNC, Robotics, and PLCs
Daniel E. Kandray

Note: All chapters include the following sections:

  • Summary
  • Key Words
  • Review Questions
  • Bibliography


Chapter 1   Introduction to Programmable Automation 

  • Introduction to Programmable Automation
  • The Manufacturing Process
  • Automation
  • Manufacturing Performance Measures
  • Benefits of Automation
  • Automation Strategies

Chapter 2   Automation Justification and Productivity Concepts

  • Automation Justification and Productivity
  • Productivity Calculations
  • Process Outputs and Mathematical Concepts for Quantifying Production
  • Process Inputs and Manufacturing Costs
  • Comparing Alternatives with Productivity Calculations
  • The Impact of Production Volume on Alternatives
  • Productivity and the USA Principle

Chapter 3   Introduction to Computer Numerical Control (CNC)

  • Introduction to CNC Technology
  • CNC System Components
  • Coordinate Systems and Reference Points
  • The Ten Steps of CNC Programming
  • Advantages and Disadvantages of CNC Technology
  • When to Use CNC Technology

Chapter 4   CNC Programming 

  • Overview of CNC Programming
  • Program Code
  • Cutting Parameters
  • Program Organization
  • Programming Process
  • Turning Programs

Chapter 5   CNC Simulation Software 

  • Overview of CNC Simulation Software
  • Installation and Setup of CNCSimulator®
  • User Interface
  • Simulation Examples

Chapter 6   Introduction to Robotic Technology 

  • Industrial Robotics
  • Robot Hardware
  • Robot Applications
  • Robot Safety
  • Robot Selection Considerations

Chapter 7 Robot Programming

  • Robot Programming Concepts
  • Programming Methods
  • Robot Programming Languages
  • Robot Program Development, Organization, and Structure
  • Writing Robot Program of Instructions
  • Robot Simulation
  • Robot Program Simulation Example


Chapter 8 Introduction to Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)

  • Programmable Logic Control Overview
  • Industrial Process Control
  • PLC Terminology
  • PLC Hardware Components
  • PLC Applications
  • Sensors and Actuators
  • Implementing Automation with PLCs


Chapter 9 Programming PLCs

  • Programming Concepts
  • Ladder Logic Terminology
  • Typical PLC Instruction Set
  • PLC Programming Process
  • PLC Program Simulation
  • PLC Programming Example


Chapter 10 Automated Workstations and Work Cells

  • Automated Workstations and Work Cells
  • Workstation and Work Cell Components
  • Automated Workstation and Work Cell Examples