One of the quickest ways to start saving money and time in your machine shop is by simple automation. The ability to walk away from a machine and let it run while you do something else is invaluable for your productivity. Configuring it to automatically notify of any adverse events is even better.

The first question is inevitably: “Automation is expensive, right?”

The answer? “It doesn’t have to be.”

We’re going to demonstrate a simple, straightforward, and low-cost automated warning system that we implemented on an EDM cutting machine in our shop to let us know if/when it goes down, or to notify when it’s finished cutting the current project. The warning system had to be low-cost, easy to configure, and able to notify management by email or text message that the machine had gone down.

The system we came up with only has 5 components:

  • Component #1: a Raspberry Pi controller.
  • Component #2: a Belden I/O cable.
  • Component #3: a wi-fi USB stick.
  • Component #4: Zooz 700 Series Z-Wave Universal Relay.
  • Component #5: openHAB software/app.

The machine we wanted to configure with this automated notification system is a FANUC Robocut EDM cutting machine, an older Alpha 1iC model from 2007. To make it work, we ran the Belden cable from the back of the EDM to the Zooz universal relay, where the on/off signal is translated to USB and fed into the Raspberry Pi. Using the openHAB monitoring software, the Raspberry Pi monitors the EDM for any disruption in the EDM operation. If there is a disruption, management is alerted by text message.

This was a tailored solution for TPK’s own shop, but this solution can be scaled or modified in myriad ways for other production facilities. With systems like this you can quickly identify errors, get notified when a system is down, track your productivity, and be proactive on planned maintenance schedules. 

On a cost-conscious note, openHAB is an entirely free open-source software platform, so the hardware is the only part of this project that cost anything. We did a breakdown of said hardware just to give a rough idea of how much (or how little) we spent doing this:


  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (≈$99.95)
  • Belden cable ($40.00)
  • Zooz 700 Series Z-Wave Universal Relay ($39.95)
  • Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5 Plus ($59.99)


Hardware total: $239.89

“This was a tailored solution for TPK’s own shop, but this solution can be scaled or modified in myriad ways for other production facilities.”

Screenshot of openHAB event monitoring chart


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