Reducing Planned/Unplanned Downtime with Vision Sensors; Part 2

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In part one of this blog series, I described the basic definition of the typical packaging process and how many processes runtime actually get broken down and defined. In this second part of vision sensors in packaging, I will specifically describe how vision is used to reduce planned and unplanned downtime and compare discrete versus the use of vision to achieve the same goals of error proofing a process and runtime improvement.

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Inductive Sensor Protection and Positioning Made Easy – Use a Prox Mount

Written by: Jeff Himes

“Downtime” is never a good word in any manufacturing facility.  It means something has malfunctioned or broken, parts are not being made, production is reduced, and money is being lost.  In some cases this downtime may be caused by a physically damaged inductive proximity sensor.  If this failure mode is happening on a regular basis to the same location, it may be time to look at the advantages a prox mount can provide.

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The Basics of Profibus and ProfiNet, Revealed!


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Regularly I attended free one day seminars on Profibus & Profinet put on by the PI Organization.   They have two different classes that they offer in cities all over the US and Canada.  There are usually about 50-100 attendees and it is a great opportunity to network with local engineers from and around the area in a wide variety of industries.

In the seminars they cover these topics in general:

  • The history and breadth of the PI Organization
  • Different ways to build I/O architectures and how to integrate them
  • Why networks are important and how to select a network

And they cover in detail (using vendor products and Siemens PLCs):

  • How to design a network
  • Configuration of a network using the PLC
  • Installation considerations, cabling & hardware
  • Commissioning a system
  • Long term maintenance and troubleshooting
  • Plantwide Energy Conservation

During breaks, multiple vendors of Profibus & ProfiNet related products were available to discuss applications and projects with the attendees and provide valuable resources for industrial network design.

We (Balluff) are a sponsoring member of the seminars and I was attending to discuss IO-Link, Profinet and Profibus industrial network applications with potential and current customers.

If you are unfamiliar with Profibus, ProfiNet or IO-Link I recommend you attend one of these seminars to learn about how it can help your machine design.

I updated the text in this entry on 3/8/2011.

The 3-Tiered Position Sensing Hierarchy

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There are three general classes of position sensors that – taken together – form a position sensing hierarchy.  This hierarchy applies to any underlying sensing technology, for example inductive, capacitive, ultrasonic, or photoelectric.  Going from the most basic to the most advanced sensor operation, the hierarchy includes:

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What is the hysteresis of your magnetic field sensor?

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I received a call the other day from a customer who wanted to use a magnetic field sensor on a cylinder, and evidently was requiring very precise results. He asked, “what is the hysteresis of your sensors? I notice that it is listed in your catalog as a percentage and I need to know the exact value in millimeters.” My response was, “well it depends”,  upon which he was not overly pleased. I then continued to explain my answer which leads me to the contents of this posting.

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One M12 Port = Endless Possibilities

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Paradigm shifts in automation are always occurring. The need for cost savings and higher diagnostics caused the shift from IP20 I/O to IP67 I/O.  Now, we are in the midst of a shift to reduce or eliminate enclosures in industrial applications by removing control and power from the cabinet.  With the reduction of IP20 I/O and enclosures, adding more I/O (discrete and analog) or specialty devices (RF identification, measurement devices, etc…) is now more difficult.  In the past it was relatively easy, but expensive, to add another “slice” of I/O to an existing IP20 solution.

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Reducing Planned/Unplanned Downtime with Vision Sensors; Part 1

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One of the things I am often asked about is “why use machine vision in packaging”? There are many reasons, including dealing with the perceived complexity of serviceability and cost. I will show you where the use of vision in packaging can significantly decrease a major cost factor called “planned downtime”, along with other benefits in this 3 part blog series – so stay tuned for my later posts.

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Sensors Must Withstand Punishing Applications

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In today’s competitive manufacturing environment, the name of the game is increased throughput.  Unprecedented global competition means that industrial manufacturing machinery must be able to run better (faster, longer, hotter, etc.) and more reliably than ever before.

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8 Selection Criteria to Remember When Choosing an Inductive Sensor

Written by: Jeff Himes

Selecting the correct inductive proximity sensor for an application can be an intimidating process.   There are literally thousands of models available from various vendors so having a good starting point to narrow down the field is essential.

At this point is will be assumed that an Inductive Proximity Sensor is the type of sensor being selected.  If you are at the beginning of your selection process, please read and earlier blog post pertaining to your initial sensor selection.

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Get Rid of Remote I/O Cabinets Once and For All

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Every time I travel, customers tell me, “we just wire everything into a box.”  Every equipment designer goes through a phase of their design process where they need to decide how their I/O gets from their sensors and their valves to their controller.  Some people use I/O cards on their PLC, or networks with IP20 solutions inside remote I/O cabinets.

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