Sensors Reduce Downtime in Welding Applications

Sensors in welding cells are subject to failure because, although they are intended to be non-contact devices, they tend to be located directly in the middle of the welding process. Conditions such as damage by direct mechanical impact, erosion by hot welding slag, false tripping by accumulated slag, and high intermittent heat cause conventional sensors to fail at an excessive rate. In a previous blog post we discussed our three-step protection process.

bunkerproxProperly bunkering and protecting sensors will prolong their service life and reduce downtime. Ideally, this strategy is implemented during the design and construction of the weld cell by the equipment builder in response to buyer demands for increased process reliability. But what about currently existing production equipment that originally was built to a lower standard that is plagued with issues? It can be very difficult for a plant to find the time and personnel resources to go back and address problematic applications with better sensor mounting solutions. The job of retrofitting an entire weld cell with proper sensor protection can take two experienced people up to eight hours or more.

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Why would anyone pay more for an M18 Inductive Proximity Welding Sensor?

Answer: Because it has the extreme potential to save a lot of money.   The general mentality these days, with regards to inductive proximity sensing, has been, “Lowest price wins the business”.   Some manufacturers and industrial consumers alike have been accused of treating these devices as true commodities.  Some salespeople have also caved in over the years with regards to price pressures in exchange for the big win.  We’re all guilty to a degree, for leaving money on the table and hastening price degradation for this category of automation device over the years!

Maybe a little of this is justified.  As electronic device manufacturing volume increases, prices for sub-components used to make these sensing devices decrease while manufacturing methodologies become more streamlined.  The result is that cost comes out, prices drop and the game becomes more globally competitive.   But with regards to application specific, hostile sensing applications, there must be a paradigm shift otherwise consumption can become gargantuan, both for material and for labor costs in the real world of factory automation. Using “generic” non-application-specific sensors in rotten environments, like welding for parts presence or Poke-Yoke applications, creates a problem.  “Generic” sensors fail with regularity, change out becomes a massive maintenance issue, machine down time becomes costly and even bad parts can potentially be made (a really bad problem….audits and everything associated with shipping bad parts must obviously be avoided as much as possible).

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