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Meeting the Need for Trained Manufacturing Hands

The EMCO Concept TURN series is best suited for CNC training. Featuring modular construction, EMCO machines can be adapted to meet a variety of needs.

Students are taught the basics of metal machining on the conventional EMCOMAT machines. Advanced training is offered on the higher level Concept machines

Where is the next generation of machine operators and engineers coming from? Places like Richland Community College in Decatur, IL. Over the last 20+ years it has invested in more than a dozen EMCO Maier CNC turning and milling training machine tools and is a key training partner for Caterpillar, Archer Daniels Midland and other manufacturers in the area.

"Unlike many institutions throughout the USA who gear their training off of a certification program that is not always accepted by industry, Richland has developed a training system that prepares students to be more engineers than button-pushers," pointed out Zak Lyon, EMCO Maier Engineer. "Once they finish the program, the students can read prints, set up machines, troubleshoot, inspect parts and write programs." Lyon worked with Richland to specify the latest trainer machine tools for the college.

The Richland program originally started in the 1990s at the request of Caterpillar, who wanted to assure a source of skilled manufacturing technology operators. The college program grew from that point.

Today, the program offers students a two-year Associates in Applied Science degree in Engineering Technology with a concentration in CNC technology. According to a spokesperson, it is a very popular program for students, male and female alike. The students know that manufacturers in the area - as well as in other states - are looking for trained hands that can design, program and operate safely and efficiently the advanced machine tools and automation in which they are investing.

The college also offers certificates in certain skill areas, making the student more marketable. One such area is Drafting and Design, where students learn about the design process and how to use the latest 3-D CAD software used in the industry. Richland Community College also works in partnership with the Heartland Technical Academy providing dual-credit programs to its high school students.

The program includes instruction in part design, programming and metrology along with technical course material such as mathematics and physics. Richland's courses are project-based providing the student with real-world work assignments. Students will spend the majority of their time in the lab applying their learning as they complete their work assignment. "The result is that students have the confidence, background and understanding to be effective and not merely button-pushers," said the spokesperson.

"With this well-rounded background, students can look at a project and program the machine to generate a finished, quality part," said Jack Adwell, Dean of Business & Technology Division.

The college also offers training for operators already working in the industry so they can acquire advanced skills - again, to keep up with the increasing sophistication of the newer machine tools.


There are not many sources for full CNC trainer machines, yet training machines offer the best, safest and most economical way to train future machinists.

"We were never tempted to purchase cheaper quality machines for our college," said Adwell. "We have chosen to only invest in reputable, reliable machines that provide a solid return on investment. Our 13 EMCOs are all still running well and EMCO has updated the machines whenever necessary to keep up with developments in technology." The college has multiple CNC turning and milling machines, from entry-level to advanced.

A key feature that Richland especially values is the exchangeable control panels available from EMCO that allow students to learn to operate a machine through a FANUC or a Siemens CNC controller. "Once our students are out of school, they could be in a shop that runs either CNC system," Adwell said. "This feature allows our students to become proficient with both controllers and to be prepared to operate effectively in either environment." Richland's CNC lab also includes on-machine training with 10 offline computer stations using EMCO control keyboards.

According to an EMCO spokesperson, EMCO Industrial Training provides universally applicable training that can be tailored to individual requirements, and that allows the skills learned to be applied quickly to industrial CNC manufacturing. "The idea of the interchangeable control, which EMCO Industrial Training has integrated into all of its Concept machines, has proved extremely effective in achieving this," said the spokesperson.

The control allows the user to be trained to use the different CNC controls commercially available in the industry on one single machine. People who have trained on EMCO machines are then able to work on almost any CNC machine in a wide range of companies, removing the need for expensive and time-consuming CNC training.

All that is needed to change to a different control unit is to start up the appropriate software and change the control-unit-specific keyboard module, which takes just a minute. In this way, up to nine controls can be taught on one single machine from the EMCO Concept range.

The college has invested in EMCO Maier trainers because its range of trainer machines helps the students get from the basics to larger, more complicated multi-axis CNC machines. The college most recently invested in two EMCO Maier ConceptMill 250s - one with a 5-axis table. These will also be used for training operators from industry as their employer firms invest in 5-axis machining technology.

The ConceptMill 250, like other EMCO machines with interchangeable controls, offers up to nine CNC controls on one machine, a 20-tool drum with double gripper, all axes equipped with servo drive motors, an NC dividing unit as an optional fourth axis, and a rotating and swiveling table as 5th axis.

"The sophisticated, expensive machines now in shops need skilled, trained people who can be relied on to program, run and maintain them correctly and efficiently," Adwell concluded.

EMCO trainer machines at Richland Community College:

  • One CT250 with live tooling and tailstock
  • One PC Turn 155
  • Two CM250s (one with a 5-axis table)
  • Two PC Turn 50s
  • One PC Turn 55
  • One PC Mill 50
  • Two PC Mill 155s
  • One PC 125
  • One Super 11CD
  • One ET345-II
  • Ten off-line computer stations with EMCO keyboards.

For more information contact:

Jack Adwell

Dean of Business & Technology Division

217-875-7211 ext. 462

Richland Community College

One College Park

Decatur, IL 62521


EMCO Maier Corporation

46850 Magellan Drive

Unit 160

Novi, MI 48377-2448


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