Whether it’s through preventative maintenance or during planned machine downtime, reducing downtime is a common goal for manufacturers. Difficult environments create challenges for not just machines, but also the components like sensors or cables. Below are three tips to help protect these components and reduce your downtime.
Cables don’t last forever. However, they are important for operations and keeping them functional is vital. An easy way to help reduce downtime and save money is by implementing a “sacrificial cable” in unforgiving environments. A sacrificial cable is any cable less than two meters in length and placed in situations where there is high turnover of cables. This sacrificial cable does not have to be a specialty cable with a custom jacket. It can be a simple 1 meter PVC cable that will get changed out often. The idea is to place a sacrificial cable in a problematic area and connect it to a longer length cable, or a home-run cable. The benefits of this method include: less downtime for maintenance when changing out failures, reduced expenses since shorter cables are less expensive, and there is less travel for the cable around a cell.
A second way to help reduce downtime is consider your application conditions up front. We discussed some of the application conditions to consider in a previous blog post, but how can we address these challenges? Not only is it important to choose the correct sensor for the environment, but remember, cables don’t last forever. Choosing the appropriate cable is also key to reducing downtime. Welding environments demand a cable that weld beads will not stick to and fuse the cable to the sensor. There are a variety of jacket types like silicone, silicone tube, or PTFE that prevent weld debris from accumulating on the cable. I’ve also seen applications where there is a lot of debris cutting through cables. In this case, a stainless steel braid cable would be a better solution than a traditional cable. Fitting the right protection to the right application is crucial..
A third tip to help reduce your machine downtime is to simply add protection to your existing components. Adding protection, whether it is a protective bracket or a silicone product, will help keep components running longer. This type of protection can be added before or after the cell is operational. One example of sensor protection is adding a ceramic cap to protect the face of a sensor. You can also protect the connection by adding tubing to the cable out version of the sensor to shield it from debris. Mounting sensors in a robust bracket helps protect the sensor from being hit, or having debris cover the sensor. There are different degrees of changes that help prolong operations.
Metalforming expert, Dave Bird, explains some of these solutions in the video below. To learn more you can also visit our website at www.balluff.us.
I am seriously excited about the new Smart Light. It will revolutionize how we automate and interface with people working in the manufacturing environment. If you didnt watch this video… you need to watch this video.
Even if you don’t know what a stack light is, you will want one of these for your discotec to light it up!
Operating on the open communication protocol IO-Link that I have discussed in previous posts, I think this single part number will improve the factory for:
- an operator wanting to know when to refill a feederbowl, position a part, or empty a full output bin
- a maintenance guy needing to know what cell is causing the machine downtime
- a plant manager wanting to know the machine output, speed, productivity
If you want more information on how this works visit the Smart Light webpage.
From conversations with many of our customers, I have found that there are two key problems encountered when working with tool change-outs:
- Tool Identification: “How do I know I have the right tool in there for the right job at the right time?”
- Cables & Connectors: “How do I remember every time to disconnect them before the tooling is removed? We spend thousands each year repairing dies with the cordsets torn out.”
Continue reading “Implement Hassle Free Tool Changes”
In parts one and two of this blog series, I described the typical packaging process, how actual runtime is defined, how vision is used to improve runtime, and how vision compares to the use of discrete sensors. In this last installment of this series, I will show some specific examples of how vision sensors have been used in packaging and show two case studies exemplifying the benefits customers achieved with the use of vision in their processes.
Continue reading “Reducing Planned/Unplanned Downtime with Vision Sensors; Part 3”
In my recent travels of the east coast from Boston to Tampa, customers have been looking for quality solutions to be able to run:
and multiple sizes,
and multiple form-factors,
all on one production line.
Two things about this seem to be in every application:
- Change-over needs to be simple for the operators.
- Management needs to see the cost/time savings, be it planned or unplanned downtime.
But how can I do multiple recipes or multiple jobs on one machine? I have to reprogram/reposition sensors, move guide rails, swap out components, etc…
Continue reading “I Can Do Quick Recipe Changes on the Fly, Can You?”
Increasingly, flexible manufacturing systems are being employed to allow the same equipment to produce a variety of different products, depending on demand. The key to the economic success of these systems is keeping changeover time to a minimum. Short changeover times mean more average production per hour and a smaller economical lot size. The time spent changing over a machine is part of what is called planned downtime. Planned downtime, if left unmanaged, can become a real sap on overall productivity.
Continue reading “Automatic Size Change on a Budget – Part 1”
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.
Continue reading “Reducing Planned/Unplanned Downtime with Vision Sensors; Part 2”
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.
Continue reading “Reducing Planned/Unplanned Downtime with Vision Sensors; Part 1”