The Machine Builder’s Guide to Improving Machine Turns

controlpanelEfficiency! Efficiency ! and Efficiency!  Every day, in the industrial environments we are all focused on improving efficiencies in our plants, to be able to do things better, easier, and faster, to get more done with as little efforts as possible. Manufacturers focus their efforts to improve their production processes while machine builders are challenged to produce more machines with limited resources. Sometimes, we focus so much on the human and machine capabilities factors through process improvement initiatives such as six-sigma, KANBAN, and other methods, that we tend to overlook some easier ways that can add tremendous value to our endeavors.

“Machine turns” or “turns” is a powerful measure of productivity for the machine builders to measure their efficiency. This determines, with given resources, how many machines they can produce per year in the same space.

Recently, collecting thoughts from industry experts, reviewing various case studies, and based on personal experiences, we compiled a white paper that reveals on how distributed modular controls architecture can boost productivity in system integration and machine build processes. For over few decades, an automated system is accompanied by a huge controls cabinet hosting processors, power-supplies and terminations of hundreds, if not thousands of wires. Building this cabinet, troubleshooting it and maintaining it is laborious activity that costs money and time all across the life cycle of the system.

Distributed modular controls architecture eliminates lot of these activities, provides tools for ease of troubleshooting and ensures a scalable architecture. Most importantly, it saves valuable labor time per machine. Thus, improving the machine turns on the floor.

Balluff recently released a white paper with practical examples that identifies how machine builders and integrators can significantly impact their operations with the choice of controls architecture. The paper also provides guidance on determining the magnitude of impact you can expect, and offers recommendations on how to go-about making the change.

Request your copy here or visit for more information.

Pathways to More-Precise Linear Motion

In a previous SensorTech post, we discussed improving the accuracy of linear motion systems while lowering total system cost by employing external linear position encoders as secondary feedback.  The secondary feedback supplements the primary feedback provided by a rotary encoder mounted to the drive motor.

Now Clint Hayes, Sales and Product Manager for Linear Technologies at Bosch Rexroth, has written an excellent “How To” article for Machine Design magazine entitled “Six Keys to More-Precise Linear Motion.”  Mr. Hayes identifies precision as a combination of accuracy and repeatability, where accuracy is the discrepancy between target and actual position, and repeatability is the ability of a motion control system to return to a given position when repeatedly approaching that position from the same direction   He discusses the important effects of various mechanical design elements and operating conditions for linear guides that can influence these important motion control system specifications.

One of the important specifications discussed in the article is Positioning Accuracy.  Mr. Hayes points out that positioning accuracy is dependent on the capabilities and tolerances of the mechanical drive mechanism.  He also highlights the technique of implementing electronic position correction to compensate for rising mechanically-induced deviation as travel distance increases.

The reference measurement for this electronic correction can be derived from an externally mounted linear scale encoder.  The external encoder provides actual load position data that the motion controller uses to calculate the required amount of correction needed to compensate for the non-linear mechanical deviation over distance.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of external position feedback, there’s a White Paper available called “Motion Control Primer: Direct load position sensing with secondary feedback encoders”.

Online Sources of Sensor Technology News

There are many excellent industrial trade magazines that offer equally valuable online content.  If you are interested in the latest news and information about industrial sensor technology, be sure to subscribe or regularly follow these online publications: