Archive for June 2015

How to Choose a Photoelectric Sensor

June 23, 2015

Photoelectric sensors may seem rudimentary to a lot of people out there especially if you’re a seasoned vet. If you’re a new guy it may seem a little daunting since there’s so many different options, so many different shapes, sizes, options available, and boy if you pick the wrong one you’ll know it quick. It can definitely be the difference between being a stable logic program that depends on that sensor to make decisions, and also just the stability of the throughput on the line. So you really want to make sure you pick the right photo electric sensor, and it’s not rocket science as there’s really 3 basic types of photoelectric sensors.

The first type is a through beam sensor, which is basically an emitter and a receiver that just look right at each other. So, if you break the beam there’s an output, or there may be an output whenever the beams see each other. That’s one way to look at it.

There’s also what’s called retroflective and that’ll be where you use a reflector and a sensor. The sensor basically sees its light source bounce off the reflector and come back to the receiver that’s in the same housing.

The third type is diffuse reflective which requires no sensor so the light will bounce off the object and come back into the receiver itself.

The differences between the three typically are gonna affect your sensing distance and also it can really hinge on the reflectivity of the object that you are trying to sense. So really you just need to take a look at your application, the mounting location of the sensor, how far away you can be or how close you can be to the object your trying to sense. Those factors can really help determine which one of those 3 are going to be the best for you.

There are different light sources inside of the sensor and that can affect the sensing distance. It can also affect the stability of the signal, and also in certain environments where there can also be contaminants in the air or light pollution, external light pollution that affects the receiver, you might need a different light source to mitigate some of those. Your typical light sources that you’re going to find in today’s market are gonna be LED lights, infrared lights, laser lights, and every now and then you’ll run into an application that calls for an ultraviolet light inside of a sensor. And again that’s just gonna affect the sensing distance, the stability, things of that nature.

Really the number one thing I can recommend when trying to find a sensor and make sure that it’s right is to get a sample and test it, and retest it, and test it with different types of sensors and different types of environments. Always remember to test for the extreme. Don’t test under normal operating conditions because if one day it’s cloudy out or one day the sun is right in your eyes, if you didn’t test for that, if you were just testing for the normal operating environments you’re gonna get an unstable signal. So always test for the worst case scenario, the extremes are what you really want to look for. Another good rule of thumb if you can, is to try to use models with quick disconnects on the back. That’s a major plus for your maintenance staff whenever you need the ability to change a sensor quickly without having to replace the entire wire all the way back to the cabinet it’s wired into –  that’s why they designed these. And most sensor manufacturers are going to give you the option to either have a flying lead coming out of the sensor or on the back end of it you’ll have a little M12 or M8 through your 4 pin quick disconnect that this can just hook right into.

And so like I said it’s not rocket science, just make sure that you test. I can’t stress enough how many times people think that they know that a sensor will work in an application, they never tested it, and then we get a call saying they need to return the model for a different one because for some reason it didn’t work for one reason or another that would have been easy to test. Omron even manufactures a checker, which is basically a DC power supply that you can wire a sensor into with a little light output that tells you when the output of a sensor turns on. You can even turn on a little buzzer so it’s really handy to be able to hook up a sensor, go out on your line and just start testing stuff and see when you get your output and make sure its stable.

If you have any questions, you need help with this, there’s always new sensors coming out, all kinds of new technology that makes them more powerful, gives them extended range, and that’s something Innovative-IDM can really help you with because it’s our job to know that kind of stuff and to be able to help you with any applications that come up. We also have a sensor specialist we can bring in if necessary, you can also find a lot of this information on our website which is innovativeidm.com. Go to our Knowledge Center, where you can find white papers for our different types of sensor applications and best practices. After all we are Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

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Having the RIGHT Spare Parts are Vital to Your Total Maintenance Program

June 17, 2015

Spare Parts Vital for Maintenance“I need that part tomorrow morning. Can you ship it UPS RED?”

We hear that request often at Innovative-IDM, and we are happy to oblige when a maintenance manager needs a part quickly. But we sometimes ask: “Why not go ahead and purchase TWO of them. One for now, and one for the NEXT time the machine breaks?”

Ah yes, spare parts. Walk into any maintenance store room and you’ll likely see they have something in common: plenty of spare parts. But are they the RIGHT spare parts? The ones that cause you the most trouble?

Having the right spare parts in your store room helps you establish an effective Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) program. A Total Productive Maintenance program means you need to invest ahead of time in your maintenance program, not just troubleshoot after things go wrong.

When your machine is down, you’re losing money. Worse yet, if the broken machine is a “bottleneck machine”(all production flows through it), then you’ve got a total productivity SNAFU on your hands. It’s a worst-case scenario.

Before your equipment breaks down, invest in spare parts for your store room. Spare industrial repair parts may seem like misplaced resources as they sit and gather dust. But having them on hand when failure strikes is priceless.

When planning your parts store room, consider stocking parts not readily available within 24 hours. Consider parts that have caused you problems in the past. Check your equipment’s operating manual for a recommended spare parts list. Keeping equipment repair histories on hand will help you decide what parts are commonly used for repairs. For instance, if your industrial controls system cooling fans go out frequently, it makes sense to keep a ready supply fan repair parts available.

Talk to your repair colleagues, too. They know the equipment and should play a vital role in developing a spare parts strategy. Listen to their needs and ask them to help identify your current strategy’s shortcomings. If your team lacks repair equipment or training, all the spare parts in the world will be worth nothing. Make sure your staff has everything they need for the job, including offsite training when needed.

Spare parts are an overlooked facet of many TPM programs. Preventative maintenance helps ensure your equipment lasts. But inevitably, friction, heat and other factors will cause failure. Minimize your downtime with an effective and well-planned spare parts program that will leave you with one less thing to worry about. — Robert Dominguez

How to Start a Preventive Maintenance Program

June 15, 2015

How to Start a Preventive Maintenance ProgramStarting a Preventive Maintenance Program isn’t easy….or is it? While taking a proactive approach to your maintenance makes sense on paper, putting the practice to work takes some planning and implementation. That’s why many industrial plants outsource their Preventive Maintenance Programs.

But a do-it-yourself PMP can work, too. With budgets tight and repair teams stretched thin, it can take some patience before a PMP bears any fruit. But patience is a virtue that often is rewarded.

Most factory maintenance teams spend time stamping out repairs and drowning in an endless sea of repair and parts availability problems. Getting ahead of the problems seems impossible — but it’s not.

Any size team can implement a Preventive Maintenance Program of some type. Research indicates that up to 70 percent of all equipment failures are traced back to a lack of regular maintenance. Considering this, the benefits of employing a PMP are paramount if you want to achieve optimum performance from your equipment with minimal cost.

It’s easiest to start with one system and form the foundation of your PMP from there. Choosing the most vital system to your operation, commonly the HVAC, makes the most sense and will provide automatic relief to your maintenance team by removing the heaviest stress load.

To facilitate the transition to a Preventive Maintenance Program, try assigning a small task force to handle any immediate repairs while the remaining group continues to build the momentum of the PMP. As you begin to focus on proactive maintenance instead of reactive maintenance, the workload will gradually begin to lighten and you’ll be able to allocate more personnel to preventive maintenance.

As systems are consistently maintained instead of repaired until they fail again, repair personnel will have fewer surprises to deal with and will focus their efforts on continuing the PMP push. The systems will also operate more efficiently, increasing performance, lifespan and lowering energy costs by up to 50 percent. This where using an outsourced field service company can really pay off.

Conquering the facility’s largest systems first will bring the greatest benefit. Research supports the 80/20 maintenance rule: 80 percent of a facility’s problems are caused by 20 percent of the machines.

Once the emergency workload is reduced drastically, maintenance can become a scheduled event instead of a surprise. It’s less likely you’ll be backed into a corner with a must-have expensive repair. You’ll have time to negotiate a fairer price with outsourced repair contractors backed by the confidence of your stable facility.

The endgame is eventually to have 90 percent of your work orders generated by scheduled equipment inspections. Overall, preventive maintenance should eventually encompass about 30 percent of your total maintenance workload.

Having an easy, scheduled facility to maintain should help you attract and retain quality repairmen who will be more than eager to operate on a schedule instead of in a race. Once all the planning and implementation is done, your repairmen will be thankful, you’ll be thankful and your plant’s maintenance spending should be spread out more orderly instead of spikes and valleys.  — Robert Dominguez

7 Things to Know When Choosing an Industrial AC Drive

June 10, 2015

Seven Things To Know When Choosing An AC DriveWhich industrial AC drive should I use? Picking the correct features of a Variable Frequency Drive for your particular application can leave you scratching your head. Here are 7 things to know and should consider when picking the right AC drive for your need.

1. Know the AC drive’s electrical current limit
Your industrial AC drive supplies current to your motor and shut it on and off. Every time your motor shuts off and on, current will spike in your AC drive. Knowing your AC drive’s electrical current limit will ensure that the motor doesn’t burn itself or the AC drive out. It can also let your AC drive shut the motor off in the event the motor begins to draw too much current.
2. Find the motor’s name plate information
The motor your AC drive operates will have a plate of information on it giving you the specs it needs an AC drive to have. Information like horsepower, torque, current draw and etc., are all displayed on the motor so it’s important to match the AC drive to the motor, not the overall system itself.
3. Know your motor’s duty cycle
The AC drive you choose will need to account for the duty cycle of its motor. If the motor is running nonstop or for extended periods of time, it will generate heat and begin to operate less efficiently or even burn up as a result. Picking the right AC drive with the right programming allows it to monitor the motor’s condition and mitigate the productive losses to a minimum.
4. Know what your industrial AC drive communicates with.
Your AC drive needs to chat with other buddies besides the motor. As part of a larger, complete system, your AC drive may need to communicate with a Data Collection System (DCS) or Controlling System. These systems can PC-Based or controlled automatically by a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). Knowing your systems communication protocol allows you to choose an AC drive with the same or even multiple communication protocols.
5. Know your AC drive’s control method.
Your AC drive can be controlled using a variety of different methods. Depending on whether it will be a local, analog or digital control method, the AC drive will need to be set up differently. Each method requires different wiring and ports, so knowing this beforehand will make selecting an industrial AC drive easier.
6. Know the environmental conditions.
An AC drive will likely operate under less-than-perfect conditions. Take into account how dusty its operating environment will be. How hot will it get? Is there moisture? Industrial AC drives can come built with an Ingress Protection rating, which will give it varying degrees of resistance to adverse conditions. You could also choose a housing cabinet that will protect a standard AC drive.
7. Know your available power.
Knowing what kind of electrical supply you already have will let you select the right industrial AC drive. For example, if you’re using a 120 volt wall outlet, you can select an AC drive that’s capable of operating on that power supply. If it’s more, pick a higher volt AC drive. If it’s lower, pick a lower volt AC drive. — Troy Hardy, Field Application Engineer