Saturday, December 9, 2017

Industrial Automation - Help your Robotic Project Succeed


Investing in robotic equipment can be a big leap for a small business. Industrial robots have been automating tasks since 1961. The first industrial robot, the Unimate, worked with the die casting machines at a General Motors plant. In the last decade there has been a surge of robots being integrated into mid-sized and smaller companies. One reason is the growth and affordability of the used robot market. With the leaps made in controls technology, companies are upgrading robots before the current model has finished its life-span. However, the overall functionality of the six-axis articulated arm has not changed in the last decade. As companies consolidate and reorganize, the factory surplus is sold.

Automation benefits include saving money and reducing production time. Automation also leads to an increase in part quality and reliability. These are some tips to help you get started implementing automation onto your factory floor.
  1. Involve the Shop Floor Workers Consulting the workers that currently produce the part is a good starting point. This is the person who has the experience to know what works and what had not worked in the past. They often have helpful insight into the process that you can not gain by simply watching. Requesting their participation in the robotic welding project will help it be more successful. The workers who manually perform the process can provide advice on the configuration and specifications of the equipment up front, avoiding the possibility that the equipment is not as ergonomically friendly or productive as it could be. Failure to involve them disregards the insight they have gained though experience with the process.
  2.   Choose your Robot Operators and Robotic Programmers Carefully Most industrial robots are controlled by the use of teach pendants. Several of these pendants now are programmed with an interface that resembles a personal computer. An individual that is computer-literate will have less trouble learning how to instruct the robot and moving it to accomplish the desired tasks such as welding or material handling. For instance, the challenge of transforming a manual welding process to a robotic welding process is best handled by someone with a solid background in manual welding. This would be an ideal person to select for programming or operating the robotic welder. When choosing robot operators, programmers, and technicians, special consideration should be given to motivated employees that are willing to learn and advance their skills.
  3. Make Training a Priority It is important when purchasing a robot integrator to choose one that provides training on the robotic system. This allows your company to be able to fully utilize the robot and minimize later down-time due to mechanical problems. Ideally the person chosen to receive the training should be the future programmer or operator. With the proper training, the programmer should be able to reliably produce efficient and effective robot programs. Basic groundwork training is a minimum, with the real learning happening on the shop floor. Generally your robotic integrator will program your robotic system to interact with your current equipment and leave you with a turnkey solution that requires only a push of a button. It is still ideal to have trained personnel on hand should a future problem arise. Routine maintenance, such as an annual grease replenishment and battery replacement, is also an issue that you will want a trained individual to perform. Many robotic systems have been destroyed by well-meaning maintenance by individuals that do not understand the complex nature of the robotic system.
  4. Watch Part Fit-Up and Repeatability The most problematical issue with welding robots is part quality. Robotic systems are designed to repeat the same sequence of events. If the robot system has been damaged, repeatability can become an issue. Robotics systems sold feature a repeatability measurement and that should be taken into account along with payload and reach requirements. Used robots should be tested for accuracy and repeatability during the reconditioning process. When performing properly, robotic systems are more reliable and produce parts far superior in quality than manually welded parts. Touch sensing and seam tracking can be used to compensate for weld joints that are not static, but robots are limited by the laws of physics. The use of quality equipment in conjunction with robots improves the part fit-up. Attention should be paid to lasers, welding and cutting torches, welding power supplies, raw consumables, and other variables that could lead to a loss of quality in the finished product.
  5. Calculate Estimated ROI There has been a steady growth in the robot industry over the past decade. Experts predict that this growth trend will continue in future years. Welding robots are still the majority of the market, but many applications can be handled by robots. The general rule-of-thumb is that a robotic welder can do the work of four manual welders. Therefore when production is increasing, the choice to add robotic welders is easily justified. It will also improve efficiency, productivity, and part quality. Higher quality leads to a greater demand for your product. Improved efficiency will enable you to be more competitive in your market. The improved productivity will allow you to meet your production demands without a larger workforce.


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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Safeguarding Against Dust Explosions


What is a dust explosion?

Dust explosions are a result of the rapid burning of flammable mixtures, such as those found in dust clouds in a workshop environment when mixed with the surrounding air. When this mixture is combined with an ignition source, e.g. a flame, and the dust particles have gathered into a big enough group to keep the flame sustained, the dust cloud becomes combustible. Research has shown that 70% of all powders are flammable, owing to their particle size and density which allows them to sustain the flame long enough for combustion.

If the dust particles are freely moving and are heated sufficiently, this will cause a flash fire which will momentarily combust. However, if the dust particles are concentrated within a small area, such as a vent or inlet for machinery, this will cause an explosion and can result in complete destruction of the machinery and even the building.

Because it takes time for enough dust to build up and result in an explosion, proper precautions and vigilance can reduce the likelihood of an explosion from happening.

What is special about dust explosions?

The biggest cause of dust explosions is from friction and mechanical failure. Unlike gas or solvents, dust particles pose a bigger risk to workshop machinery and workers' safety. Whereas gas and solvent particles can dissipate into the air and fall below flammable levels, dust particles are heavier than air and therefore fall onto surfaces until a strong enough air current raises them back into the air where they can regroup with other dust particles. If a big enough collection of particles is made and the conditions for combustion are met, this can result in an explosion. This is why finer particles are more of a danger, because larger particles are less likely to enter the free flowing air again, whereas smaller particles are much lighter, and therefore easier for the air to carry.

This poses a very real risk for machinery such as sanders, saws, and lathes where wood waste is produced.

Invest in a Dust Extraction System

As you can see, there is plenty of reason to invest in a dust extraction system. Not only are the potential dangers to machinery and your working environment a real problem, but with all of that dust floating about in the air, improper ventilation could also affect the health of your workers and put them at undue risk.


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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Dust Extraction Systems Are Required In The Work Place


Dust extraction safety codes are strictly enforced in every industry. Work area dust extraction systems remove macro and micro sized particles from the air keeping workers safe from work area hazards. Workplace safety is a high priority and a workplace that does not meet health and safety regulations can receive a heavy fine. An effective air cleaning system is an important component of any fabricating or manufacturing plant.

Dust must first be confined before it can be removed and disposed. The vacuum unit draws material towards the intake in the capture hood which is designed for particle containment. The particles are prevented from entering the workspace atmosphere and the particles collect in the removal system disposal unit for safe disposal. The system air flow must be maintained at a constant velocity in order to keep the machine from clogging with dirt.

Dust extraction machines capture, convey, and collect particulate from the air for safe disposal. The particulate is trapped by a capture hood and then conveyed through a series of ducts. The soot is then collected through a pass through filter or the fume extraction arms.

Dust related illness is a major concern because dirty air can lead to such devastating illnesses such as mesothelioma, silicosis, and asbestos lung cancer. Dirty air in the work place can lead to poor skin conditions, eye and nose damage, emphysema, and asthma, if the air is not constantly filtered. Employers are now required to make the workplace a healthy area for their employees meaning that employers must install proper air cleaning devices. Business owners will receive code violation fines if their work place does not have a proper air safety system in place.

Employers must install an exhaust ventilator to clean dirty air from the site the dirt is generated along with a dilution ventilator. Employees working in high dirt areas are required to wear dirt masks with respirators which are more effective than so called nuisance dirt masks. In order to protect skin from constant contact with soot employees must wear protective clothing.

Employees are required to have regular medical checkups in order to identify and signs of soot related illness. An employee that can show that his respiratory or skin illness is a result of employer negligence can file a work compensation claim and receive damages. The safety codes are strictly enforced in order to keep workers healthy and to limit work compensation claims.

Many people do not realize that soot can be explosive depending on the elements in the soot. Soot in a flour plant can gather in the air and become combustible. If a flame is introduced into the cloud of flour soot an explosion can occur which is another reason why soot extractors are so vital in the workplace.

Employers are required to install dust extraction systems in their workplace in order to keep workers free from soot related illnesses. Particulate can enter the airways and cause a number of health disorders such as asthma, emphysema, and even lung cancer. The dangers associated with soot, fumes, and other particulate must be taken seriously which is why companies that do not meet safety code requirements can expect heavy fines. This is why it is important to have the proper dust extraction equipment.


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Friday, December 1, 2017

How Dust Can Be Deadly



Dust can be deadly, and not just to your home. Industrial-scale combustible dust has been responsible for firestorms and explosions in American factories.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

How to Choose the Best Automation Company for Your Business


With the advent of sensor technology, industries have been able to benefit greatly in terms of increased productivity and lowered risks. Most heavy engineering industries partner with a reputed automation company to integrate different type of environment sensors in their factory units. With the help of these sensor suppliers, industrial units can reduce wastage of resources and monitor critical productivity parameters with utmost precision.

However you cannot simply chose a supplier for your sensor needs as you need have a good understanding of both the players in the market and the sensor technologies that are apt for your industry.

Before selecting an automation company to help you implement various environment sensors in your industrial unit, you need to have a check on their background. This includes:

Portfolio of successfully completed projects

The automation provider you choose should have at least been involved with a minimum of 10 high capacity industrial automation projects. This adds more credibility to their methodologies and the products used.

Use of high quality sensors

Make sure you seek the guidance of experts in the field of sensor technology to determine whether your automation partner is providing you with high grade sensors that are suited to work optimally in your industrial environments.

Check fair pricing

Make sure that your sensor automation company follows only standard market pricing for its services and products. Have a check on how sensor prices are in your local market. The best way is to invite bids for automation and compare them to see the best pricing for your business provided quality is not compromised for cost savings.

Customer service

When you are looking at sensor suppliers, you should also have a look at how good they are at offering after sales support services. Sensors usually work in high work output scenarios and are destined to require periodic maintenance and repair. So choosing a sensor supplier that has a reputation in offering good maintenance and customer service record is also a criterion.

Next up is to check the type of sensors that are needed in your industrial or commercial unit. For that you need to have a good understanding on

· Geographical location of the plant

· Infrastructure

· Business processes

· Environmental constraints

· Number of employees

· Operational resources that may interfere with sensor operations

With these points covered and if a suitable vendor meets all these requirements then you need not look any further for partnering them. Sensors always have a role in improving your industrial output's bottom line in terms of reducing wastage and improving throughput.

Make sure you entrust your sensor based automation requirements to a trusted automation company for getting the best results.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Acquire Automation to Increase Manufacturing Capability


In order for your company to do an effective job of implementing automation as a tool that you can use to improve your manufacturing operation, you will need to do some real planning to acquire an effective installment of advanced automation. You need to decide if your company has the capability to go through the process of creating an advanced automation project that brings you more profits. Do you have the expertise to do it? Can you design a plan acquire automation then execute it? You have to answer these questions positively to be able to do it.

Most of the time a company will not have the proper expertise to do the technical tasks that are required to build the plan to acquire automation then execute it. This type of task requires the skills of engineers experienced in the details necessary to acquire automation in order to do it correctly. This kind of experience can only come from having been involved in the analysis of many manufacturing operations before automation is installed. It will be very troubling for your business if you build a plan to acquire automation without the assistance of those with foresight and expertise in evaluating for automation. There are many pitfalls that can be built into an automation plan that will be manifested later during the execution of the plan. You may think that building and executing the plan for automation of your manufacturing operation will save you the expense of hiring an expert to help you. Please do not fall into this trap. In an initial meeting with an experienced automation provider you will learn certain details that you may have thought were the right way to go are not after all the best choice of paths to take.

Even before you start to evaluate the automation system that you think you want to try to implement for your manufacturing operation, there may be other obstacles to getting this task done. It is good to know before you get started what you will have to overcome to actually get an automation system in place that will create savings and increase profits. The expertise of the engineers of an automation provider can give your business the right direction to go. Having the expertise of these experienced folks will probably save you from some very expensive mistakes that you might attempt in trying to do the planning and implementing on your own.

The company culture that is in place in your organization when you are about to acquire automation may have well-defined impacts on the success of the addition. It is wise for a company to set up a plan for implementation of the automation technology with the objective of easing the major changes into the corporate culture so that success can be realized. The target objective of the addition or changing of automation technology in your company should be to increase the productivity and reduce costs of operation while improving the corporate profits.

In setting up the automation in your business, you will have input into the components that will be used to bring your business into a new age. The devices that are used should give your manufacturing well-defined direction. Not only do the robotics and automation devices included require that there be speed in their coordination, but also there needs to be control. The tasks of automation control fall to the controller. The best way for your company to get the optimum work from the automation processes is to have the proper automation control supplied by a controller that is well suited to the requirements of the operation.

One of the hardest parts of moving your manufacturing operation into the current century is the process of justifying the investment to acquire automation. If your company is like most it will require that there be well-defined economic justification for a capital expenditure for automation. Normally the process of determining the payback on capital expenses is done by calculating the payback or the net present value of the project expense. The calculation is not the hard part, but determining all the costs that will need to included sometimes is difficult. The automation provider that you choose should be able to give you some very definite answers to your questions about capital expenditures and the realistic payback on your automation investment.

Your first stage of planning for automation and robotics should be a very wide view of what your market place is like, what are your requirements for automation and robotics, and what are the broad constraints that your business would have. This is the stage that you must decide what is the competitive strategy of your business. This will have a direct impact on the type of automation that you will need in your business. Certain types of automation may not be supportive of some strategies. For instance, if your company requirement is to reduce product prices, automation targeted toward the production of custom-made products may not be compatible with this plan. It will be important for you to discuss your requirements in detail with your automation provider in the planning stage. Get the right solution to fit your needs.

Depend on your automation provider to help you to answer the increased demand in the market place. It is a given that when the demand in the market place starts to rise for any given product, your company needs to be as responsive as possible to meet the demand before their competition takes away the customers for themselves.

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