Category Archives: Manufacturing News

Factory Automation and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Advances

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 Factory Automation and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Advances

As technology evolves, automation has become more and more prevalent in the factory automation space. Machine-to-machine enables private and exclusive communication and control over sensors, cameras, industrial equipment, robotics (check out our FANUC Robotics parts) and essentially anything else. Manufactory facilities and several other remote systems are managed much more easily with machine-to-machine advances in communication.

Initially, with industrial and enterprise applications as a focal point, machine-to-machine communication was easily defined and used for a limited amount of tasks. Nowadays, there are many fewer limitations associated with the machine-to-machine communication.

Pressured to lower costs and improve speed and overall efficiency, factory automation companies are often in an uncomfortable spot. While using high-end, sophisticated automation applications and tools, more real-time data must be obtained to streamline more of the day-to-day operations and tasks. Implementing machine-to-machine solutions can help with operational efficiency gains, time and cost savings, and performance optimization.

From a cellular standpoint, machine-to-machine solutions enable integration of environmental controls into a single system, and to unify with security and video surveillance systems. All and all, companies are able to secure several properties from anywhere they wish to, even as they fine-tune power efficiency and decrease operating expenses.

Due to the immense increase of machine-operated plants in companies who rely on keeping critical assets and functions performing optimally, several companies are exploring options associated with a machine-to-machine communication. Of the many benefits, the fact that it’s able to deliver remote access to gather real-time process data to cut operation costs is often one of the most well-recognized. The ability to identify and rectify production line faults, or design and implement preventative maintenance strategies, for example, is what machine-to-machine communication is designed for.

Involving data exchange over the telephone line or via the internal with machines, plants, computers for issue detection, diagnostics, and repair, teleservice is an imperative aspect of machine-to-machine communication. Offering an optimal answer to diagnose distant systems, teleservice is becoming more and more popular and is not going anywhere.

Telecontrol, another aspect of machine-to-machine communication, deals with connections of distant process stations to one or more central control systems. Many networks, both public and private,  can be used for communication used to control. For these diverse applications and businesses, cellular M2M connectivity can address many business and technical challenges and enable important benefits.

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.

Additionally, M2M systems can be designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions and easily manage and control connected devices across the country or around the world. M2M systems provide flexibility to move equipment as needed, or bring up and tear down systems quickly for temporary or seasonal deployments. By using modern M2M management and application platforms, and taking care to choose platforms designed to meet real-world requirements, organizations can take full advantage of the M2M revolution.

In case you were wondering, machine-to-machine systems are indeed designed to withstand environmental conditions and easily control connected devices in any location. They are flexible and can move equipment with ease. In order to use machine-to-machine communication optimally, look into management and application platforms. Click here to view our article on IT and Robotics.

Boosting Factory Automation Productivity

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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.

 

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.

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.

 

Benefits of Buying Refurbished Industrial Automation Equipment

At MRO Electric and Supply, we offer a wide range of refurbished and reconditioned automation products for each of our manufacturer lines. We never supply used, untested, second-hand parts. Each of our refurbished parts is fully cleaned, serviced, functionally tested, and upgraded to optimal working order before being made available for sale. We also place each of our reconditioned products in like-new packaging for easy identification, transportation, and storage.

Benefits of Refurbished Automation Products:

1. Availability
For many obsolete and legacy automation product lines, finding new, unused parts can be a challenging task. Oftentimes, searching for unavailable new parts can cause unreasonably long lead times which increases the risk of downtime. MRO Electric stocks a variety of refurbished products with same-day and next-day shipping options, while keeps the risk of downtime to a minimum.

2. Price
Refurbished products tend to be significantly less expensive than new parts. MRO Electric offers many refurbished items for up to 75% less than their new counterparts. This deep discounting allows our customers to stock up on spares while minimizing their costs.

3. Equivalence
Purchasing an exact replacement prevents compatibility issues versus upgrading to a newer component. For some manufacturers, it is better to stick with tried and true systems than risk purchasing a different part that may not function correctly with their process.

4. Reliability
Just because a part has been refurbished does not mean that it won’t last as long as new. Additionally, many of our refurbished parts have seen little or no use throughout their lifetime. We are extremely confident in the reliability of our refurbishment process, and warranty all of our products for a minimum of 12 months.

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Yaskawa Motoman Swordfighter

Yaskawa Motoman Swordfighter

Industrial robotics is pretty under-recognized It’s easy to think they’re all about manufacturing. But just watch as Motoman-MH24 normally found assembling or packing products in a factory, takes on a new lease on its automation life and becomes a master sword fighter.

Motoman-MH24 is a 630-pound high-speed industrial robot made by Japan’s Yaskawa Electric Corporation. The Yaskawa Bushido Project is a short video clip showing Japanese master swordsman and five times Guinness World Record holder Isao Machii teach Motoman-MH24 the way of the sword. The company made this promotional clip to celebrate what they dub “manufacturing spirit” as they near their 100th anniversary.

To date, Machii has demonstrated some pretty radical feats with his blade: slicing a flying shrimp pelleted at him at 80mph in half, and a neon ball flung at him at 150mph – and these are just some of the things the dude can do.

The Yaskawa researchers examined Machii’s sword techniques in 3D. Next, they got Motoman to reproduce the very same movements, and the results are superb. In a showdown between master and robot-apprentice, the pair first demonstrates a four-directional cut in flawless sync. Then Motoman-MH24 reproduces each of Machii’s cuts down to a tee.

Things start really heating up when the robot actually looks like it’s gaining an upper hand over its human trainer. While Machii horizontally slices one orange, Motoman-MH24 takes down six in one fell swoop. The most epic scene is probably the one where Motoman splices a really thin pea pod in half.

While Machii looks visibly tired towards the end of the final “1000 cuts” scene, his mechanical counterpart could probably go on for at least an extra 100000.

Click to view our Yaskawa Drives and Controls currently for sale.

Industrial Legacy Systems

Legacy Systems: Maintenance

Maintaining and upgrading legacy systems is one of the most difficult challenges industrial and manufacturing managers face today. Constant technological change often weakens the business value of legacy systems, which have been developed over the years through huge investments. Managers struggle with the problem of modernizing these systems while keeping their functionality intact. Despite their obsolescence, legacy systems continue to provide a competitive advantage through supporting unique industrial processes. Routine checks allow for preventative maintenance, and for replacement parts to be ordered before they are desperately needed. Here at MRO Electric and Supply, we stock a large number of classic and legacy products which can be shipped in record time.

Legacy Systems: IoT

When new technologies arise, engineers simply cannot uproot existing systems. However, some legacy controls can be connected to the Internet of Things. This allows for a high level of data acquisition which can be stored, processed, and analyzed. Several IoT products can also support remote monitoring and control. Many Modicon Quantum Series products have an Ethernet port that allows for this upgraded connectivity. However, not every legacy system has these capabilities.

Legacy Systems: Security

Targeted attacks on industrial systems always remain a threat as our society plows forward into the computer-driven Information Age. Securing legacy systems that were designed to communicate point to point is a enormous challenge. Many of these older systems were installed pre-internet era, are not designed for connectivity, and have no means of authenticated commands that are received. System interruptions for security updates can be difficult and costly, and downtime is expensive. It is always a challenge to find ways to increase security for legacy systems. One important tip is to always keep the software for connected legacy systems updated with the most current version.

Legacy Systems: Looking Forward

Although replacement supplies and remanufactured parts can be ordered for many years to come, it is important to keep in mind that no legacy system will last forever. In this current sluggish world economy, often the best answer is a well-planned, slow and steady upgrade.

If you need a replacement part for any of your industrial classic or legacy systems, please email sales@MROElectric.com or call 1-800-691-8511.

Modbus, Traditional Networks still Dominant over Industrial Ethernet

modbus

Modbus, Traditional Networks still Dominant over Industrial Ethernet

 

We’re always keeping an eye on innovation, and a big trend in the PLC world is the move toward industrial ethernet communications rather than traditional networks. However, Bill Lydon (Editor for Automation.com) recently posted an article asserting that it’s going to be 15-20 years before industrial ethernet becomes the dominant market technology. In the meantime, customers are relying on networks like Modbus, Fieldbus, DeviceNet and others.

Modbus, designed by Modicon in 1979, is a request/reply protocol and offers services specified by function codes. Our Modicon Quantum Communications Modules utilize Modbus protocol to communicate with the drives and input/output modules on the same network, and Modbus has become so popular since its inception that many other industrial electronics also support the protocol.

Click Here to read the rest of the Automation.com article, including an interview with an IHS Media Electronics Researcher: http://www.automation.com/industrial-ethernet-growing-but-fieldbus-remains-dominant 

 

MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished FANUC CNC, FANUC Robotics, Control Techniques,  Siemens, Modicon, Yaskawa, MagneTek, Saftronics, and Omron products available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com

Unidrive SP AC Drives Used in Belgian Theme Park Ride

Unidrive SP AC Drives Used in Belgian Theme Park Ride

Wondering what Control Techniques Unidrive SP Drives are actually used for? Well here’s a pretty cool application for those of you that enjoy theme parks. This zero-gravity ride at the Walibi Theme Park in Belgium was recently refurbished using Unidrive SP Drives. Previously, the ride had been using Unidrive Classic Drives to run the motors which hoisted riders over 250 feet in the air.

emerson drives on rides
Dalton Terror Ride powered by Unidrive SP Drives

More information about the retrofit:

The drop tower is based at the Walibi theme park; the ride is a round tower of 77m in height and has five rows of seats, each with four-person capacity, in a ring around the tower.

The seats, weighing 1.5 tonnes empty, are hoisted by speed-controlled Leroy Somer geared motors to the top of the tower, where they are released to drop in freefall at a maximum speed of 110km/hr, generating complete weightlessness.

Magnetic current brakes that comprise permanent magnets fitted in the seats generating powerful Foucault currents in the metallic frame of the tower provide fault-free guaranteed braking, independent of the power supply, bringing the ride to a safe slow speed with hydraulic shock absorbers providing the final soft stop at the base.

This, Control Techniques said, makes the ride a ’zero-risk’ attraction.

The Dalton Terror was originally installed in the park in 1998 and featured the previous Classic Unidrives to haul the seats to the top of the tower.

Compagnie des Alpes has been investing heavily in the upgrading of many of the rides, with the accent heavily on safety.

When it decided to refurbish the Dalton Terror, the precise movement of speed profile of the previous Control Techniques drives was a key factor in the selection of the latest-generation of AC drives and five heavy-duty 75kW Unidrive SPs, operating in closed-loop flux vector mode, were fitted as part of the total renewal of the control panels.

Signals from encoders fitted to each of the Leroy Somer LSMV motors feed back to the drives and, using SM Universal Encoder Plus option modules, are re-transmitted to the PLCs that control the safety of the whole process.

Here’s a video of the ride in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agSTlMNbPpQ

MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished Control Techniques parts available including the Unidrive and Unidrive SP series. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com

North Carolina Manufacturing Expansion Project

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North Carolina Manufacturing Expansion Project

 

Great news from our home state of North Carolina – the manufacturing company Oiles America is expanding their facility outside of Charlotte and increasing production capacity by 75%. From an article in the Charlotte Observer:

The project was completed to help increase manufacturing capacity and enable the company to expand its product line. Included in the expansion are increased research and development facilities, and renovations to existing office and warehouse spaces.

The project also will incorporate energy efficiency technology and occupancy sensors, and it has the potential to use solar energy in the future.

MRO Electric and Supply has new and refurbished FANUC CNC, FANUC Robotics, Control TechniquesSiemens, Modicon, Yaskawa, MagneTek, Saftronics, and Omron products available. We also offer repair pricing. For more information, please call 800-691-8511 or email sales@mroelectric.com.