6 Things You Must Know Before Choosing a Control Panel Enclosure

Posted May 21, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, UL508A, UL508A Panel Shop, video

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Picking the right enclosure for a machine design is extremely important. If you get it right everything is going to last and work great and be easily maintained. If you get it wrong things will overheat, you can get contaminants in the cabinet, things will prematurely fail. It may seem rudimentary but there are a lot of different options to consider. I want to tell you about the 6 that I think are the most important.

1. The environment is critical in picking the right cabinet. If this is going to go anywhere where water or dust or any type of contaminants are present in the atmosphere then you want to make sure your cabinet has some sort of seal on it so that you can remember to keep the water and the dust out, that’s the main thing. You want to make sure there isn’t going to be too much heat in the cabinet. You want to make sure that the components have room to breathe. So again all kinds of enclosures exist, each application is unique, the enclosure should be unique as well. The smallest enclosure is not always the best enclosure. You may want the smallest enclosure because space = cost. The bigger the enclosure the more it’s going to cost because the more metal there is. Just think about the long term maintainability of all the equipment that you are going to put inside of it. It is not easy to change an enclosure once you decided and installed all the components so make sure you take the time to get it right. Consider all the options; way all the pros and cons and make an educated decision. So again the first thing is going to be the environment that dictates the type of enclosure. That’s going to be the NEMA or the IP which means Ingress Protection rating that’s going to keep all the contaminants out of the cabinet.

2. The internal components that are going to go inside. Most of the time it’s going to be electronics inside and those electronics produce heat. All these electronics have an associated watt loss, heat loss that’s associated with them. That’s usually part of the specification for each of these components. Add all that up and make sure your cabinet can dissipate that much heat. There are calculations you could use to determine that.

3. The need to access all the different sides of the components. For instance, if you need to get your hand up underneath here to grab a hold of this wire and it’s too close to the wire duct you can’t get your hand in there. Same thing if I need to be able to grab the in stop on the side of the piece to pull it off of the din rail. If I can’t get my hand in here it’s going to make it a lot more painful for me to do that if I’m a maintenance person. Remember you want to make enough space in here for things to be able to breathe and for you to be able to access these things with your hands.

4. Surrounding obstacles outside of the cabinet.Anything that is going to be on either side or the front or back is going to determine how big your door needs to be. If you have any cables that have to come out with a minimum bend radius or anything like that. That’s going to affect how far away you need to place things from the cabinet. If there is going to be any corrosives in the environment, if it’s a wash down say for a food and beverage application the type of enclosure you’re going to want to make sure it’s stainless or something that can’t corrode with cost of chemical wash down.

5. Think about any arc flash mitigation that you have to deal with. Certain customers of ours require the internal disconnect be located on the outside of the panel completely, so when power is removed there is no internal components that will have live power to them. Think of your maintenance personnel when you pick these component because it can really mean the difference between being able to work on these efficiently and effectively to reduce downtime. Make sure you can prolong the life of the equipment inside, which has to do with heat loss and contaminants.

How Capacitive, Inductive and Photoelectric Sensors Work

Posted May 12, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, Omron, video

Tags: , , , , , ,

Hi, I’m Adam Ring with Innovative-IDM. You know, I was just teaching a class last week and a topic came up about different types of sensors that are used for industrial automation. So I thought, well, I’ll take a few minutes and go over some of the basics of how these types of sensors work.
The first thing I would like to talk about is the inductive proximity sensor, these are very widely used in automation, they’re used to sense various metal objects. So, basically any kind of metal objects that we need to know that’s present or absence or is there a part in place, is that part missing? Is an actuator retracted or extended? Anyway in which we need to sense something that is a ferrous metal we can use this.
Basically what it does, it has this tractor beam that emits from the tip of the sensor, and it’s really what we call an eddy current killed oscillator. What that means is that, there’s this electrical field generated outside the tip of this sensor, and when a ferrous object comes near-by, it actually absorbs that field and the sensor is then able to detect that there is something there and it gives us a signal.
Another type of sensor that is similar to the inductive proximity sensor is the capacitive proximity sensor. This uses a different sensing technology, in that, instead of looking for a ferrous metal object, it actually looks for a difference in the capacitance of an object. So, in other words, how much does it absorb electricity and so, a real common application for this is that we can mount this on a plastic tank that contains water. And we’re able to detect the level of water that’s inside the tank. So it can actually look through the outer surface, and see the material that’s in, as long as the capacitance properties of that material are different enough from the outer material, to where we can just tune out what that outer material is and figure out “Hey, is there something inside or not?”
Then we have another really common type of sensor that is used in automation; that’s called the photoelectric sensor. As its name implies, it basically uses light in order to detect objects. Something like this has an emitter and receiver, so it emits a light beam and it bounces off of an object and comes back to the receiver and if it sees the light, then it knows that there’s an object there. If it doesn’t get an object back, then it knows that there’s nothing there. So it’s able to easily detect when there’s an object present or absent. Real common use for these is on conveyors, if you want to detect if there’s a box moving on a conveyor, and as soon as it passes by, the photo eye reflects the light and says that object’s there. Very common use in the industry.
If you’d like to learn more about these types of sensors and others, please take a look at the Innovative-IDM knowledge base, our website is innovativeidm.com, and we’d love to share some information with you. Remember, we’re Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

4 Reasons a Kitting Service Can Help You

Posted May 6, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, video

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Hi I’m Adam Ring with Innovative-IDM. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about four reasons why customers are kitting these days. Primarily if you can order a kit, it is going to enable you to order one part number, from one vendor, that comes in one box, and ultimately you will have one invoice to pay.
Now lets take a look at what might come inside of a kit. First of all you will see there’s a quality control certificate that lists each item that is contained inside the box, and you will also notice that it has two signatures. One from the person who pulled the kit, and another one who double checked it for accuracy.
Now imagine if you were to buy all these different components. They would probably come from different sources, and obviously take multiple line items, on multiple orders, and then you would have to receive them in multiple boxes, and then pay multiple bills. So all that can be condensed down to one part number, one order, from one source, with one bill to pay.
So at the end of the day, wouldn’t it make sense to buy a kit from Innovative-IDM? After all it is Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

5 Reasons to Add Lighting Solutions to Your Manufacturing Lines

Posted April 28, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, Patlite, video

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Hi, my name is Andy Lewis with Innovative-IDM, and today I’d like to speak with you for a couple of minutes about a variety of lighting solutions that you can utilize for your plant floor, for your industrial facility.

We carry a line called Patlite and they have a wide variety of novel solutions to allow greater through-put, production visibility, enhanced speed at which maintenance is done and responded to, increase operator performance as well as, in general, give you an idea of where issues may lie in your plant and where they usually happen.

What’s great about lights? They light up, they’re bright, and they draw attention. Say for example, you have a plant floor with about 100 CNC’s; the plant manager is always interested in knowing when they make money, when they’re down, how much time it takes to go from loading a CNC to another part coming out and making money.

Enter the Patlite stack light. For example, green means that the machine is in operation, it’s actually using the CNC to tool the part. Yellow might be loading, and red flashing could be, emergency, machine is down for whatever reason. You can actually tie that in to faults from the PLC in the CNC machine.
Another example, say for example, you’re using an automated welder and you don’t want people to walk into the area where they might get an arc flash or something like that. Well, you can have visibility and safety for your customers and not only your operators by having this on outside the door, so they know that they are walking into a dangerous environment.

You have maintenance guys constantly going into panels. Panels could be eight foot tall with components all the way down to six inches from the ground. Lighting isn’t always the best in this situation. What’s pretty convenient is the magnetic strip on the back side here, and lit up with LED lights that won’t break on you if it falls. This will give better transparency and view ability for your maintenance guys.

Finally, one cool thing that Patlite is really good at is noise. What I mean by that, is they can tell a CNC operator “This step just finished, now load the CNC machine.” Or “Please press the start button.” There’s a variety of different alerts and instructions that can be provided.

If Patlite seems like a good fit for you, please go to http://www.innovativeidm.com for more information. Innovative-IDM is Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

Why You Should Use Safety PLC

Posted April 23, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, Omron, video

Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve heard a lot of talk recently about safety PLCs. When should I use a safety PLC and when should I just use individual safety controllers? Well a lot of that has to do with your particular machine that you’re trying to guard.

If you have multiple zones on a machine, for example there’s 3 or 4 different doors that can be opened in order to clear a jam or maybe there’s some covers over different components that are spinning or possible pinch points, you’re typically going to protect those with some sort of safety device. Maybe it’s a safety switch or safety light curtain, each one of those are typically going to have a controller tied to it in order to monitor it and check for faults and ensure if someone opens a door or removes a cover that the machine stops in a safe manner.

If you’re dealing with a large machine where there may be multiple zones or multiple covers that you want to be guarding at the same time, you might choose to shut down only part of a machine if a certain event happens. In that case you can use a safety PLC. Just like its counterpart, the regular programmable logic controller or a PLC, you can wire in various inputs which would be like safety interlock switches, safety mats, safety light curtains and actually write a program that decides how to respond when it gets an input from one of those devices. For example, you can have a guard on one end of the machine open and it shuts down just that portion of the machine while it leaves the rest of the machine free to run.

Typically the breaking point is if you got more than 3 safety controllers on a given machine you probably want to start looking at a safety PLC. Very, Very, easy to implement, easy to program, and gets the job done.

If you’d like to learn more about how safety PLCs could help you in your application, take a look at innovativeidm.com. We would be glad to help and remember we are Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

4 Ways to Reduce VFD Downtime

Posted April 15, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, video, Yaskawa

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Variable frequency drives are probably one of the greatest inventions in modern automation.  If you aren’t using one of these things yet, trust me you will be soon.  They are always getting less expensive, easier to use, the applications are virtually endless.  Now you can control the speed and the direction of the motor and save money at the same time.  These things are instrumental in a lot of different applications and therefore, their uptime is critical.  As you may know if you ever had to replace one before, it could be a little cumbersome to replace.  It’s always really a race against the clock, because it almost certainly means a motor somewhere is not running which is probably meaning some downtime for you.

So the first thing you always want to remember about VFD uptime is that heat is the number one VFD killer, or heat is the number 1 killer for any piece of electronics for that matter, especially VFDs.  These components you have to remember have high voltage running through them, so it could be 480-600 volts if you are in the Canada market running through them and they produce a lot of heat.  There are fans inside these things that are designed to cool them.  They also have massive heat syncs on the back that are used for heat transfer to the cabinet or surrounding pieces to keep them cool.  The one thing you always have to remember is you need to let your VFDs breathe.  They have to stay cool.  Keep the fans running, always keep the fans running.  The first thing that you are probably going to see that will fail on a VFD is the fan, because it’s always running.  Anytime the VFD is on, the fans are running constantly.  So you need to make sure you have spare fans on the shelf, you know how to replace them, and you maintain them.  Make them part of your preventative maintenance program.  Check and make sure they are running. Also, the heat syncs themselves can get very dusty, and that dust can build up a lot of that heat so that it can’t transfer heat properly and they will get too hot.  Always clean your heat syncs.

1. There are fans forcing air through the internals. Dust can build up just like a PC at home.  What do you do to mitigate that?  You get a can of compressed air and blow that stuff out of there every now and then.  Make sure that you keep a VFD cool and it will always be happy.

2. You want to protect your drafts from heat and contaminants, such as dust or particulate that may be in your air because of whatever process is going on in the nearby environment. You want to make sure the cabinet that these are installed in or at least the environment of the room they are in is a controlled environment.  Make sure it’s not going to get too hot.  If you are going to put it in a cabinet make sure the Nema or the IP rating of the cabinet is suitable for that environment to keep the contaminants from getting to this piece of equipment.

3. You always want to use proper electrical filters whenever possible. There are filters that are designed for use of both line side, which is between the power company and the drive, and load side, which is between the drive and the motor or the load.  There are inductive and compassitive type filters as well as RFIEMI type filters that are designed to help these things, help protect these things from power spikes, electromagnetic noise that may damage the input or output side of the drive or electronics.  So always try to use proper electrical filters.  It may cost you a little more in the beginning but you will be a lot better off in the long run because it will prolong the life of the VFD itself.

4. You always want to properly maintain the load that this motor is connected to. For instance, if you are not properly maintaining a motor and the motor burns up and the insulation melts inside the motor because it gets too hot, maybe because you didn’t grease a barring.  It could cause a short.  A short is going to damage the output of this drive and could cause the drive itself to fail.  So make sure you are always properly maintaining downstream equipment, the load that the drive is hooked up to.

If you have any more questions about this always feel free to contact us.  We have application specialists that can help answer questions as far as how to properly size them, how to properly size the cabinets that they are installed in, the environments they go in, as well as the electrical filters I mentioned, best practices to use when installing those.  You can also find a lot of information on our website innovativeidm.com.  This is where you will find our knowledge center.  There is going to be white papers best practices listed there that you would want to use when selecting drives and components both upstream and downstream from the drive to help increase uptime.  After all Innovative-IDM is Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

Clean Electrical Panels Save Money

Posted April 7, 2015 by Vanessa Muse
Categories: Innovative-IDM, video

Tags: , , , ,

Hi, I’m Adam Ring with Innovative-IDM. Have you ever walked up to a control panel and it just looks like a complete rat’s nest in there? Have you ever wondered, what would be the value of having a nice clean control panel and how can that save you money?

Well, there’s three main reasons. Number one is that it’s going to last longer. Number two, it’s going to be a lot easier to troubleshoot in the end. And number three, it’s going to be a lot easier to repair if something were to break.

Now, let’s take a closer look. Inside this panel, you’ll notice that there are labels on every device that identify it according to what it’s called out on the schematic. Also, every single wire that terminates into a terminal block, has a label on the wire that actually matches the label on the terminal block. So, if that wire were to ever come out or you had to replace a component, it can be very easy to make sure that it gets placed back in the right location.

Also, if you take a look at the general wiring in this panel, you’ll see that everything is very nice and neat, very organized and just has a very nice look to it. When the wires transition from the inside of the door panel, you notice that there’s spiral wrap that adds an extra layer of protection, so that if the wires rub against the door from being opened and closed, it makes sure that it doesn’t wear through the insulation ad cause electrical problems.

Finally, you’ll notice that there’s also stainless steel hardware that’s mounting each of these devices to the panel and that’s what will give it that extra longevity, so that it doesn’t break down over time due to corrosion. So remember, a clean panel is more than just looking good; it’s going to help save money, by lasting longer, being easier to troubleshoot and easy to repair.

So if you’d like to learn more about how Innovative-IDM can help you build clean control panels, visit our website: innovativeidm.com. And if you like, we can actually have you in for a tour and show you around the place. Remember Innovative, Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.


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