What’s to Rave About? The Haas Next Generation Control (NGC)!

When Haas Automation launched the VF-1 at IMTS in 1988, the Haas control was the first of its kind. It provided simple G-code programming and Fanuc compatibility at a price that no other builder could touch. Although there have been various revisions in software and firmware over the years, the control system’s architecture has remained nearly the same.

In 2016, Haas released the all-new, fully re-engineered, Next Generation Control (NGC). The NGC was built from the ground up to handle design changes for years to come. It’s the most advanced and modern control of its kind, yet still maintains the look and feel of the original Haas control – albeit, with newly optimized graphics and navigation to benefit the end user.

Looking at the main NGC display under Current Commands, you’ll see a series of tabs across the top of the screen. These tabs organize features into menus and sub-menus, much like files and folders are organized on a computer. Users can use the arrow keys within the cursor panel to navigate through the menus, while also keying left or right to select fields for data entry. Applicable keystrokes are displayed on the right-hand side of the screen as an aid to navigation.

If you find yourself on a page you don’t want, the buttons previously known as “send” and “receive” have been repurposed to work similar to the back and forward options on a web browser. These buttons now appear as bold left and right arrows, respectively. Hitting the “back” arrow returns you to the previous page.

Storage within the control has been enhanced with the same file-and-folder concept, allowing storage of programs and media in an organized fashion, as well as the ability to copy multiple files to memory at once from an external device.

Speaking of media, the NGC now allows users to upload videos, pictures, and PDFs to the control for onscreen viewing at any time – including while the machine is actively running a program. Users can manually access files from List Program mode, and then choose the Select Program key to show various media files. For a more automated process, programmers can use an M130 to automatically display the desired media onscreen at a specific point in the program. After M130, enclose the file path within parentheses – “M130 (file path)” – or via keystrokes, use F1 to display the menu options, navigate to the Edit menu, and then select Insert Media File and follow the onscreen instructions to select the appropriate file. To cancel media display, use M131. Haas Automation’s Visual Programming System (VPS) is now available on the NGC via the Edit mode. VPS contains many new and exciting probing features, including the all-in-one process to calibrate the tool and spindle probes by simply filling in 6 variables related to the master tool gage. Once complete, the automatic calibration macro calibrates the tool setter and the spindle probe, without the need for a ring gage and pin gage to calibrate the individual probes.

Before the NGC was released, an alarm code used to mean that it was time to pull out the manual, search for information on a computer, or contact the local Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) for service. With the NGC, as long as you’re connected to the Internet, an alarm triggers onscreen instructions, including related videos and relevant DIY guides. This information enables the operator to better understand the underlying cause of the alarm, and become familiar with the solution firsthand, before troubleshooting the alarm, or contacting the local HFO.

To continuously improve Haas products, machines that are connected to the Internet are now also able to record and send feedback to Haas Automation on machine usage, telling the story of how well machines in the field are running. With this same direct communication, updates can be pushed out and installed automatically to fix potential bugs, and add new features.