Monthly Archives: December 2017

Boosting Factory Automation Productivity

fanuc cnc

Boosting Factory Automation Productivity

In the factory automation space, productivity is much more than an imperative management concept; it is a scalable tool that drives employees and processes to be functioning at their best. In order to keep employees on track and enable goals to be met in the workplace, fine-tuning processes and running a ‘tight ship’ as far as time management is concerned is considered best practice.

As far as work is concerned, understanding where to start is the first, and often, most difficult step. Understand what may set your company back, whether it be a worn down motor (such as a FANUC CNC Motor) not performing up-to-par, or a poorly-maintained Servo Amp (such as a FANUC CNC Servo Amp).  Missing expectations due to a faulty machine is avoidable, as seen in this article focusing on Maintaining Automation Machine Tools.

To ensure your teams’ insights aren’t hindered, consider documenting priority-oriented processes such as customer service, client retention, and cutting operation costs, that way, more focus can be put toward improving workflow, coaching employees and pinpointing other areas that could be improved on. Take industry benchmarks into consideration; they can be used as a point of reference to determine if an area can be improved in, or if it’s already up-to-par. Along with documenting the aforementioned processes, keeping track of progress and growth can also aid in fine-tuning.

In order to remain on the same page with employees, ask for their buy-in and try to understand where they’re coming from. They may help shed light on problematic areas such as why certain departments aren’t working as closely together as they could be, or if downtime could be minimized by having two departments working together more effectively. By making employees feel valued and trusted, a company is less likely to run into honesty issues, communication issues and/or issues with collaboration. The foundation for productive operations starts with an honest, well-communicating team. Teams need to have an in-depth understanding of where they’re expected to add value and, of course, what the company is working toward as a whole. Eliminating clutter in order to have a well-focused and productive team is an achievement that most of those in the factory machine automation space don’t lose sight of. MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished FANUC CNC parts available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

These days, there are shortcuts and tools for essentially any and every niche. Many of those in the machine and factory automation space are focusing on robotics (see FANUC Robotics parts) to explore ways to automate processes in hope of enhancing productivity. Be sure to stay ‘in the loop’ when it comes to tools that could enhance one’s productivity through collaboration, etc.

 

Gathering Information Before Considering a Repair

fanuc repair

Gathering Information Before Considering a Repair

Downtime is inevitable when it comes to machine automation. When production stops, orders will likely stack up quickly, hitting start on the ‘profits lost’ clock. After the failed part is identified, many machine automation professionals would lean towards shipping the flawed part to get serviced as soon as humanly possible. While MRO Electric and Supply appreciates the business, we want to ensure our customers are as well-informed as possible and able to fix issues of their own, is able to.

By grouping observations together and looking at them closely,  many of those in the machine automation space may find that the issue can be fixed internally, rather than sending a part out to another party. Be sure to press the in-house employees for details, as someone on the clock may have witnessed the failure first-hand and would be able to provide more intimate and valuable insight as far as what may have happened. Any way to avoid a future issue is worth exploring!

As many know, factory automation machines consist of several interconnected parts and components. Because of this, it’s important not to overlook related issues that have occurred or may occur. If a drive (such as a FANUC Robotics Drive)  were to fail, best practice would be to send it along with the motor it’s connected with to preventative maintenance to be checked together. By consulting with the machines’ operators, you may find that other parts could be sent to preventative maintenance along with motor (such as a FANUC CNC motor)  and drive. Keep in mind, certified experts will likely be able to point machine details out that others may not recognize or think of. Nobody wants to run into an issue, fix said issue, and run into it again, due to lack of attention to detail.

Whether you have only two wires to unhook or twelve hundred, document everything. When you uninstall the damaged unit, label your wires. Be sure what you are using is sturdy and will remain affixed. Do not use tape that will slip off with grease or dust. Also, take before, during and after pictures of the operation. These pictures can save you from a tremendous headache later on. Also, when possible, make sure to save any parameters and record any settings before the unit has been taken out of service.

By documenting all of the parts or wires that had to be disassembled as specifically as possible, you would likely be avoiding many headaches. Nobody wants to disassemble a section of a machine, later to discover a wire or bolt is misplaced, which would lead to dreaded downtime that everyone in the factory automation and manufacturing space dispises. Don’t be afraid to take a video or several photos of the disassembling process; in-depth videos or even photos are often invaluable to refer back to, especially when in a rush or a busy time of the year.

In order to make your time count with the service center, be sure to prepare your explanation on a written or typed document. If there’s a possibility of more than one employee communicating with the service center, ensure they’re up-to-speed with all details that may be of help to fixing the issue or issues at hand. MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished parts available now, and also offers repair pricing. Be sure to check out our core exchange program to learn how to save. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

Be sure to avoid shipping damage by packing the part or parts securely and appropriately. Nobody wants a quick and painless fix to turn into an extended fix due to laziness or lack of initiative to research correct packaging processes. Most units need 3-5 inches of packaging insulation on all sides, to ensure rough handling won’t damage the part or parts. Check out our other articles focused on robotics here.

 

 

 

Workforce Automation and Robots

FANUC Robotics

Workforce Automation and Robots

Automation has been in mind for not just decades, but centuries. Whether we’re talking about those who worked in flour mills or those who dealt with windmills, automated processes have always been on inventors’ minds. While automation would technically result in job losses, the increased prevalence of robots and robotics parts (FANUC Robotic Parts found here)  in the manufacturing, packaging, and engineering space would result in interesting implications for consumers, employees, companies, organizations, etc.

Does Workforce Automation Result in Job Losses?

Many are convinced that automation will come and take over a majority of the work done by humans in the next few decades, and some feel as though their jobs are safe. Let us take China for example. China is one of the most dominant manufacturing hubs in the world, supplying a huge chunk of the world’s electronics products. Over the past few years, Chinas’ factories cut human workforce by an astounding average of 50%, due to the increased prevalence of robots.

Are there Advantages of Workforce Automation?

Although there is definitely a negative side of workforce automation, do positive sides exist? Customers could experience, to an extent, cheaper and more effective services and products. This would be due to the cost savings of the autonomous robotics, which yield a one-time fee along with other basic upkeep costs. Lower production costs would also make it possible to build items in the U.S. vs overseas, which many would prefer.

 Automation Limits?

There are limits to mostly everything, and automation is no exception. Short product life cycles that quickly become obsolete and ability to entertain fully-custom projects do not fit into an automation system. For example, paying for a large number of robots to build an electronic product that will become obsolete in less than a year would not be a smart decision from a business standpoint. The ability to be flexible and custom is imperative when concerning several products in several different markets.

What does Second Machine Age Mean?

Robotics in machine automation is becoming a larger part of the workforce as time goes on. Some companies plan to simply increase production levels with the help of robots and robotics parts while keeping their employee count the same and reassigning their workers to other positions within the company. With the addition of robots and robotic parts in the workplace, workers will be needed to maintain robots, calibrate and monitor them, analyze data and more.

The rise of robots and robotic parts is unavoidable in several niches. Today’s technological prosperity is changing tomorrow’s workforce for good. MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished FANUC Robotics parts available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

Lastly, be sure to check out our articles on boosting factory automation productivity here.

LCD Retrofitting Benefits

LCD Retrofit

LCD Retrofitting Benefits

 

Part 1: CRT to LCD Retrofits

Many professionals in the automation space that have a CNC Machine (such as FANUC CNC parts found here) in their shop deal with pesky issues from time-to-time. One common issue for those who use CNC machines would be CRT monitors that begin showing their age. Several of our customers have been in this situation, feel as though they’re left with two choices: repair their CRT monitors, or replace them.

To be clear, those are not the only two options. The main reasons:

1.) it’s often time-consuming to pinpoint a CRT Replacement part.

2.) It is not cost-effective to have the CRT monitor repaired.

 Our alternative to the two options: an LCD retrofit (found in FANUC Displays and Controls) .

The advantages of retrofitting or upgrading a CRT monitor with an LCD retrofit are:

  • Improved screen visibility
  • Increased life of CNC Machine
  • Decrease amount of electricity used during operation

Part 2: Floppy Disk to USB Drive Retrofits

Another outdated piece we have encountered in the machine automation space? a floppy disk.  

Floppy disks are still in use today for some, often causing issues. By implementing an updated, customized USB flash drive, several issues can likely be avoided. What is now a slow and obsolete tool, the floppy disk is still in use with some of our clients and causing problems.  Our recommendation is a new custom-built USB flash drive solution.

Upgrading to a USB drive is usually a straightforward process. No changes or system configurations are necessary during this process, and yes, it will work on CNC machines and other devices that still use the floppy drive.

Nobody likes the costs of downtime including those in the machine automation space.

MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished FANUC CNC products available, including LCD Retrofit products. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

Siemens’ Update Broadens Toolset for Digitization in Machine Shop Environments

Siemens CNC

Siemens’ Update Broadens Toolset for Digitization in Machine Shop Environments

The most recent update from Siemens’ NX software coalesces the next generation of tools concerning additive manufacturing, CNC (computer numeric control) machining, robotics, and, last but not least, quality inspection to enable the digitalization of part manufacturing within a single, cohesive end-to-end system.

Up-to-date automation competence for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), including robotic programming, adaptive milling, and tooling design, provide innovative, industry-specific technology to help deliver high-quality products to the market in less time. The new NX Machining Line Planner tool, combined with integrated NX CAM software for feature-based machining, provides new capabilities for industries with high-volume production of complicated parts, such as automotive and industrial machinery. The latest version of NX continues to support end-to-end solutions for additive manufacturing, helping manufacturers realize the goal of using 3D printing for industrial production.

Part manufacturers proceed to face increased pressures from modified market expectations, with customers who require optimized accuracy and faster response times. In order to remain competitive, many part manufacturers look to digitalization, which connects all of the steps of part manufacturing planning and production with a single source of information, or a digital thread. Implementing a digital strategy can enable part manufacturers of all sizes to take greater advantage of automation, adopt 3D printing for production, and ultimately expand into new market opportunities and reduce time to delivery.

State-of-the-art automation enhancements within the latest version of NX provide powerful ways to expand production efficiency and decrease cost. Robotic programming technology provides the ability to automate complete manufacturing cells, including programming robots to perform machining. Adaptive milling and tube milling are new capabilities that provide innovative ways to automate CNC machines and accelerate cutting of complex parts. Adaptive milling is a high-speed cutting method that leverages automation within NX to decrease machining cycles by up to 60 percent while extending tool life. Tube milling streamlines the 5-axis programming process by eliminating preparation and minimizing inputs, utilizing advanced capabilities to create ideal tool paths and minimize errors in machining on the shop floor.

Mold and die manufacturers can now accordingly dictate tool production costs through integration between NX and the Teamcenter portfolio. Engineers can now use NX to automatically recognize features and parameters on the desired part, and provide pertinent information to Teamcenter, which can precisely calculate the tool cost. The newly integrated capabilities of Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software solutions can enable tool manufacturers to win more orders and increase profit margins through automated costing and accurate quotations.

New to this version, NX Machining Line Planner, combined with integrated NX CAM, enables the feature recognition, distribution, balancing, programming and simulation of operations over multiple setups and machines. Particularly helpful for industries with high-volume production of complicated parts with many features, NX Machining Line Planner uses a digital twin of the complete machining line and NX CAM feature-based machining technology to optimize the entire process. NX Machining Line Planner, combined with the power of the digital twin, offers a truly unique solution that enables automotive and machinery manufacturers to reduce planning time and increase overall production results.

The newest version also inflates the new additive manufacturing solution in NX by including the new module, NX AM for HP Multi Jet Fusion, which is certified by HP and powered by Materialise, to prepare print jobs for HP Jet Fusion 4200 3D printers. The NX software module will allow customers to develop and manage parts in a single software environment for Multi Jet Fusion printing solutions, avoid costly and time-consuming data conversions and third-party tools, and improve their overall design-to-finished-part workflow efficiency.

Additionally, Siemens develops applications for additive manufacturing process simulation in Simcenter 3D, a crucial tool to help manufacturers industrialize additive manufacturing by printing components the first-time-right. These simulation applications are an integral part of the Siemens’  additive manufacturing solution. Increasing productivity is one goal for most of those in the automation space (check out boosting factory automation productivity here). MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished Siemens products available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

Maintaining Automation Machine Tools

Maintaining Automation Machine Tools Maintaining Automation Machine Tools

Properly maintaining automation machine tools and machine parts (such as Control Techniques Unidrives found here) is the only way to avoid issues from a performance and durability perspective. Whether it’s an attachment, cleaning or routine check-up, keeping machinery tools up-to-date is imperative. Monsterous losses could very well occur from a business and production standpoint if maintenance is not prioritized, which nobody wants to run into.

Machine Tools’ Lubrication:
 Lubrication is one of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to any automation machines. Generally, regularly inspecting lubrication levels is a great place to start. If you notice decreased lubrication levels throughout a period of time, be sure to schedule a weekly check-in and carefully monitor. Regularly protecting machines’ motors, including oiling and greasing of their moving parts, cannot be avoided.
Sharpen Key Parts

When concerning machine tools that feature components engineered for cutting, slicing, or chopping, ensuring their parts maintain their sharpness is a must. Consult with a specialist to determine if the machines’ parts are in proper condition, and also be sure that their parts are sharpened properly also.

Verify alignment specifications

Another strategy to maintain factory automation tools and parts (such as the Modicon Quantum CPU 140CPU43412A) is to ensure you’re aware of the appropriate verification of alignment specifications. Product or component misalignment may be detrimental to a machine’s performance. By performing a handful of test jobs to check the tools’ alignment, you’ll be able to adjust accordingly.

Examine the cleanliness

Ensure all machine tools are cleaned daily or weekly, depending on the user guides’ instructions. Machines often collect a large amount of dirt and filth when operated, which may result in long-term issues if not tended to appropriately.

Understand Correct Power Mode 

By routinely inspecting the working mode of machines and setting them to the appropriate power mode, issues can be avoided such as overworking a machine or running a machine too slowly, which could cause debris. Refer to the machine’s operating manual to understand appropriate power modes associated with specific machines.

MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished Modicon Quantum CPUs and Control Techniques Unidrives products available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

 

 

IT and Robotics

IT and Robotics

IT and Robotics

 

Information Technology involves storing, retrieving, altering and transmitting massive amounts of data.

Because IT is heavily reliant on computers, automating the field is definitely the most practical direction.

Slowly taking rein in the sector, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is terminating the manual effort associated with IT tasks and business processes.

RPA grips technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning and vision, big data analytics and, eventually, quantum mechanics, to complete several tasks.

There are two types of automated deployments:

  1. Simplified robots (such as FANUC Robotics products found here) that execute a script to recurrently execute a specific function.
  2. Cognitive RPA/software-based AI that learns the tasks they are presented with and learn how to make choices on their own.

Currently, large global IT and BPO (business process outsourcing) organizations are using lesser forms of RPA.

Using RPA enables organizations to provide IT services at higher efficiencies and minimize costs.

Utilizing RPA enables organizations to provide IT services at increased efficiencies while cutting costs.

Many say that a handful of companies are currently in the early stages of conducting RPA proof-of-concept trials, while some are entertaining production pilots.

Affected Areas

Many IT service lines are expected to come under RPA’s influence.

  1. Helpdesk is a field that falls under this category. RPAs could potentially automate non-ticketing activities that, as per IT reports, occupy 25% to 40% of a helpdesk’s tasks. Some of these tasks include monitoring, providing clarifications and reporting. As for ticketing, RPA could assist in automation common service requests such as password resets.
  1. IT infrastructure outsourcing is another area that is expected to be impacted by RPA. In this, robots (such as FANUC motors, amplifiers, and drives) could observe critical thresholds and, under certain threshold breach conditions, could even fix the issue.

Companies have already started to leverage RPA for many of their client projects.

Processes that mandate RPA include rule-based, high volume, several systems, repetitive tasks, data mining, or data entry tasks. MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished FANUC Robotics products available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

Automation Advantages

  1. RPA slashes labor costs immensely.
  2. The technology offers a less prying way for integrating systems because software AI access applications through the user interface.
  3. Robots would connect to various UIs, including legacy green-screen applications, and would not touch the underlying software.
  4. RPA projects require less time and money when compared to traditional automation.
  5. AI robots will provide better quality, faster processing times (within hours compared to weeks with manual approach), major improvement in traceability for audit purposes, and increased high-speed analytics.
  6. RPA would easily scale and address fluctuations in volume.

Feasibility

Automation projects, as per industry experts, should not take more than a year to complete. They would likely cost between half a million USDs to two million or more, depending on the number of robots and their complexities. Check out our article on factory automation and machine-to-machine learning here.

Choosing the most appropriate PLC

PLC

Choosing the most appropriate PLC

As many machine automation professionals know, deciding on which PLC to work with can be one of the most difficult decisions you have to make when organizing your control system.  There is no one size fits all equation, so are here are some guidelines I use.

Brand –   Many of the major players such as have small, medium, and large-scale PLCs.  Always consider when brands the end user already is using.  Things will always go smoother if the maintenance personnel is already accustomed to the brand of PLC you choose.  Also, try to pick a brand that will have stellar local support for the end user if you are not in the area.

Sizing – Sizing a PLC is imperative to the success of your project.  If you go too small,  you may max out your I/O (such as this Modicon Quantum I/O)on changes and additions.  On the other hand, if you go too large,  you may blow go over your budget. Leaving room for expansion is ideal, but, in the long run, going over your budget is not practical.

  • Count up your:
    • Discrete input points
    • Discrete output points
    • Analog input points
    • Analog output points
  • Communications.   regularly have a port available on the PLC to communicate with it from your laptop without disconnecting other devices.  With modern PLCs with several communications methods, there is no reason for this to happen.
    • Will you need remote I/O?  This can reduce installation time and troubleshooting in the long term.
    • Will your system utilize an HMI?  How will you communicate with it?
    • Having a way to remotely monitor your PLC is becoming standard practice.

 

MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished Omron and Siemens products available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

Control Market & Industrial Automation Trends

 

Control Market & Industrial Automation Trends

 

Industrial Automation

Vendors Will Need to Advocate Portable Applications

The lack of multivendor portability of applications is an enormous issue for those in the automation industry. The operators behind the automation architecture initiatives understand that without open ecosystems, providing portable applications between vendor platforms, revolution is stifled.  Nontraditional suppliers are already offering products that are programmed with IoT software.

Edge Devices Will Blossom

The rapid rise of the Internet of Things concepts and technologies, including high power/low-cost processing and communications technologies, is enabling new intelligent nodes, which operate at the network edge to improve manufacturing performance and efficiency. This will be a growing trend.

The quick rise of the Internet of Things ideas and technologies is empowering state-of-the-art knowledgable nodes, which operate at the network edge to polish manufacturing performance and efficiency.

Omnipresent Smart Sensors

Smart sensors and control devices have been proven to produce aid by yielding increasing amounts of contextual data. Because of the most recent IO-Link addition gaining quick adoption, the cost of implementing smart sensors has decreased immensely. Along with these are Ethernet sensors. Ethernet sensors communicate using industrial and related formalities, which contribute data for automation and communicate directly with business systems. Industrial applications have also begun to use Bluetooth sensors.

Collaborative Robots Will Become More Affordable

As many of us know, the number of collaborative robots dramatically increased in 2016. These newly-established light and inexpensive robots are engineered to operate cooperatively with people. They are also intended to incorporate vision systems along with state-of-the-art software to provide self-awareness. These robots have average costs of under $40,000.00, making them suitable for an enlarged number of tasks. These robots are evolving similarly to how personal computers have- providing a product with less power than larger offerings, but adds value for a larger number of users.

Internet of Things (IoT) Technology Will Slash Automation Costs

Talk of the Internet of Things (IoT) theories, and the technology influencing the industry is starting to feel very real. The progressing maturation of technology and merchandise is stimulating the Internet of Things with fastened innovations including higher-powered processors, analytic software, sensors, cloud computing, visionary systems, and more. All and all, this will likely result in more economical and higher performing industrial automation systems.

Thinner Architecture Will Come to Automation

As many professionals in the industrial automation space know, 2-3 layer automation systems are beginning to occur, resulting in increased performance and less software maintenance prices. This trend is becoming more and more common, with computing being driven down into more handy controllers, intuitive instruments, and driven up to plant level computers and cloud-hosted applications.

 

 

MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished products available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

 

Perks of Operating Motors With Drives 

Perks of Operating Motors With Drives

drives and motors

MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished FANUC motors and Servo drives available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.

Adjustable speed drives (ASDs), or variable-speed drives (VSDs) is used to describe equipment that assists to control the speed of machinery. Usually, they are using in mechanical equipment powered by motors.

The drives offer truthful electrical motor control enabling motor speeds to be increased, decreased and maintained.

Save On Energy:

Due to energy consumption, centrifugal fan and pump loads operated with versatile speed drives are reduced. The horsepower needed to operate the fan is cut by a much larger factor if the speed of the fan is cut in thirds or in half. As everyone knows, energy savings are what machine automation professionals yearn for.

Controlled torque limit:

By using an adjustable speed drive, machinery can be protected from any damage that may occur. The specific amount of torque applied by the motor to a load is able to be fully controlled.

Controlled Starting Current:

Usually when an ac motor is started “across the line,” it takes about as seven-to-eight times to start the motor and load.

 By utilizing an adjustable speed drive, the considerably reduced starting current expands the life of an ac motor. The benefits are less wear & tear on the motor which translates to extend motor life and less motor rewinds.
Governed Stopping:

Governed stopping backs up diminish product loss because of machine-driven wear and tear attributed to shocks to the process.

Reverse Operation:

The requirement for a reversing started is mitigated in regards to utilizing an adjustable speed drive. The reason being is the output phases to the motor can be morphed electronically. Removing the reversing starter terminates its upkeep expense while also minimizing panel space.

Decreased Power Demand on Start:

To begin an AC motor across the line, one is going to need much more power compared to beginning an adjustable speed drive. This is only the case at the start because the power to run the motor at load would be the same regardless of its variable speed.

Adjustable Operating Speed:

Process automation and implementing changes in a process is allowed due to deploying an adjustable speed drive. This also enables beginning at a shortened speed and allows remote acclimation of speed by process controllers.

 

Removal of mechanical drive components:

By using an adjustable speed drive, the likelihood of needing costly mechanical drive components like gearboxes can be mitigated. The AC drive is able to transport the high and/or low speed required by the load with a consistent speed between the motor and load because it’s able to function with an infinite variable speed.