FMS Insight Niigata ICC Cell Controller

FMS Insight works with a modified version of the Niigata ICC Cell Controller. Contact your Niigata Sales or Support Representative to request more information about using FMS Insight with the Niigata ICC Cell Controller.


Reclamp Stations

By default, all machine stops in the downloaded jobs are assumed to be machines. To support reclamp stops, a specific name of the reclamp stop can be defined in the FMS Insight config.ini file. Once defined, any machine stop in the downloaded jobs which match this configured name will be treated as reclamp stops.

Custom Machine Names

By default, ICC machine numbers are mapped to the identical machine number in the downloaded jobs. That is, ICC machine 1 is mapped to MC1 in the jobs, ICC machine 2 is mapped to MC2, and so on. The config.ini file can specify an alternative job machine name and number to be assigned to each ICC machine number. This allows different types of machines to be named differently in the flexibility plan and jobs.

Machine IP Addresses

If specified, FMS Insight will use the Machine IP addresses and ports to load tooling data from the machines, record it as part of the log of events, and display some summary reports of tooling data. FMS Insight does not require the IP addresses to be specified; if they are missing, no tool data is loaded but all other functions of FMS Insight work (managing jobs, logging events, etc.).

Sized Queues

FMS Insight supports specifying a size for each queue defined in the config file. FMS Insight will then hold and unhold pallets that are waiting to be unloaded so that the queue does not exceed the configured size. Note that by using the queues page, an operator can manually insert more material into the queue beyond the configured size. The configured size is only used for holding and unholding pallets.


FMS Insight translates the jobs into the Niigata ICC Cell Controller via three mechanisms: adding programs, setting pallet master routes, and controlling a few flags on the pallet tracking.


The jobs can optionally contain the program content for each process and machining stop. If the job does not contain the program content, FMS Insight assumes the program has already been manually registered with the Niigata ICC.

If the program content is included, FMS Insight will manage revisions and register the program with the Niigata ICC. FMS Insight will compare the program content from the newly created jobs and the already existing program. If they are the same, the existing program is reused. If they are different, a new revision is created by selecting a new program number and registering the new program content with the Niigata ICC. This leaves the old program revision unchanged so both the old and new revisions are simultaneously in the cell controller. FMS Insight tracks all material and will use either the old revision or the new program revision based on which material is currently loaded onto the pallet. Once the old job completes, FMS Insight will remove the old program revision from the Niigata ICC. Program revisions and Niigata ICC program numbers can be seen on the program report page.

Pallet Master

For each pallet, the Niigata ICC stores the "Pallet Master", a list of stops that the pallet visits. The route starts with LD (load), has a sequence of MC (machining) and RC (reclamp) stops, and ends with a UL (unload). Each load, unload, or reclamp stop contains a list of load station numbers to use. Each machining stop contains the machines to use plus a list of program to run.

FMS Insight sets the pallet master steps based on the data in the created jobs. For each available pallet, FMS Insight sorts the jobs by date and priority and decides which job should run on the pallet. FMS Insight then uses the job data to completely replace the pallet master with the sequence of steps from the job. FMS Insight uses the comment field to keep track of which job is currently assigned to the pallet. FMS Insight continuously updates the pallet master data as jobs complete and other jobs are assigned to the pallet; FMS Insight will only update a pallet if it is waiting in the stocker with the "No Work" flag set (see below for more information about the No Work flag).

Pallet Location and Status

For each pallet, the Niigata ICC stores the "Tracking Data", consisting of the current pallet location, currently executing step, count of remaining pallet cycles, and a couple of boolean flags.

FMS Insight reads but does NOT have write access to the current pallet location and currently executing step (Before-LD, After-LD, Before-MC, etc.). The Niigata ICC keeps these fields updated as the pallet moves through the route defined in the pallet master. FMS Insight watches these values change and uses them to create a log of what happens. The Niigata ICC does allow the user (but not FMS Insight) to override the pallet location or current step, which can be used in emergencies; overriding the pallet location and current step is not required during normal operation. FMS Insight uses the transitions of pallet locations and currently executing step to create log entries, so if they are manually edited by the user, FMS Insight may miss log entries for the current cycle. FMS Insight will recover once a new pallet cycle starts.

Pallet Cycle Count

For each pallet, the Niigata ICC tracks a count of remaining pallet cycles. The Niigata ICC decrements this on the completion of the UL (unload) step. If it is greater than zero and the operator presses the LOAD button, the Niigata ICC switches to the After-LD (load) step and thus starts the route again. If the count is zero OR the operator presses the button Niigata calls UNLOAD but might more accurately be translated "NOT LOADED", the Niigata ICC places the "No Work" flag onto the pallet, which causes the pallet to route to the stocker. (See below for more about the No Work flag.)

FMS Insight always keeps the cycle count at 1 and increments it when the pallet arrives to be unloaded if needed. That is, consider when a pallet arrives to be unloaded. The current remaining cycle count is 1. FMS Insight will check the available material in the queues to determine if there is a piece of material to be loaded. If no material is available, FMS Insight will do nothing; the Niigata ICC will then decrement the cycle count from 1 to 0 and send the pallet to the stocker no matter if the operator presses the LOAD or UNLOAD/NOT LOADED button. Instead, if there is available material to be loaded, FMS Insight will increment the remaining pallet cycles to 2. When the operator presses the LOAD button, the Niigata ICC will then set the status to After-LD (load) and proceed to route the pallet back through the pallet master steps. If instead the operator presses the UNLOAD/NOT LOADED button, the Niigata ICC will set the No Work flag and route the pallet to the stocker.

The FMS Insight load station page will always contain the expected operations to occur at the load station.

No Work and Skip

For each pallet, the Niigata ICC stores two boolean flags: "No Work" and "Skip".

The "Skip" flag, also called hold, causes the Niigata ICC to move the pallet to the stocker and then ignore it. FMS Insight uses the "Skip" flag to implement sized queues. If there is an in-process queue with a specific size, FMS Insight will set the "Skip" flag on all pallets destined to be unloaded into this queue. FMS Insight then removes the "Skip" flag on only a single pallet at a time and only when the unload would not increase the number of parts beyond the size of the queue.

The "No Work" flag is used to override the "Remaining Pallet Cycles" count. If the No Work flag is set, the Niigata ICC assumes that the pallet is empty, sends the pallet to the stocker, and ignores it. While similar to Skip, Skip is used to hold a pallet in the middle of the route while No Work is used to not start the pallet route at all. When the remaining pallet cycle count drops to zero, the Niigata ICC sets the No Work flag when the pallet is unloaded. Also, if the operator presses the UNLOAD/NOT LOADED button, the No Work flag is set no matter what the remaining pallet cycle count is.

FMS Insight uses the No Work flag on a pallet in the stocker to trigger its check for new jobs to assign to the pallet. For each pallet in the stocker with No Work set, FMS Insight will sort the available jobs by date and priority. For each job, FMS Insight checks if there is available material to be loaded. If a piece of material for some job is found, FMS Insight will clear the No Work flag (and also optionally update the pallet master data for the new job, if required).

Operator Procedures

Load Station Normal Operation

FMS Insight's load station page will display what the Niigata ICC is expecting to happen at the load station. Specifically, the page will display the material to load, the material to unload, and the material to transfer between faces (if the pallet has multiple faces). If the operator performs all the tasks as specified, the operator presses the "LOAD" button. The Niigata ICC will then begin the route on the pallet for the material that was just loaded. (Note that if the instructions specify that nothing is to be loaded, the operator can press either "LOAD" or "UNLOAD/NOT LOADED", both will preform the same action.)

Material which is unloaded must be reworked or scrapped

Consider when the operator unloads a piece of material which cannot continue with the normal flow but must be set aside to be reworked or possibly scrapped. If this is on the final process, nothing needs to be specified. If instead this is an in-process piece of material, it can be signaled to be quarantined after the unload completes. To do so, on the load station page, click the material card for the piece of material. The dialog that opens will contain a "Signal For Quarantine" action. Once clicked, FMS Insight will move the material to the quarantine queue once the unload finishes.

If the material has already been unloaded without clicking the "Signal for Quarantine" action, FMS Insight will add the material that was unloaded into the in-process queue, visible on either the load station or queues pages. To remove the material, the operator must click on the material card and then click either the "Remove From System" or "Quarantine Material" action (depending on if quarantine queues are configured). This will either remove the material from the system completely or remove it from the active FMS Insight queue and place it in a special quarantine queue. In either case, once the material is no longer in the queue, FMS Insight will not set pallet master or tracking data into the Niigata ICC for this material.

Note that depending on timing and pallet availability, it may be the case that a pallet has already been activated by the time the operator removes the material. The operator must still remove the material from the queue as specified above, and then reject the load as specified in the next section.

Load Station Material Can't Be Loaded

Consider that a pallet arrives at the load station, the Niigata ICC is expecting something to be loaded, but the material is not available to be loaded. This could be because the material was removed from the queue as described in the previous section but because of the timing a pallet had already been activated. It could also be because the operator forgot to remove the material from the queue, or didn't notice that the material was bad until the load operation started.

In any case, the operator should first confirm that the material is removed from the FMS Insight queue and then press the UNLOAD/NOT LOADED button. This will cause the Niigata ICC to route the empty pallet back to the stocker and as long as there is no material in the FMS Insight queues, FMS Insight will not reactivate the pallet until more material enters the queue.

Reworked material is ready to re-enter the flow

Consider when material was removed from the system or placed into quarantine queues as described above, and now the material has been successfully fixed and is ready to complete the remainder of the process. Once the material arrives back at the load station and is ready to go, the operator adds the material back into the in-process queue. To do so, the operator clicks a button on the queues page, enters or scans the serial number of the material to be added, and then verifies the job and process number. The material will then be placed into the queue and FMS Insight will then activate the appropriate pallets in the Niigata ICC.

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