Posted tagged ‘customer service’

The Advantage of Using a UL508A Shop

February 3, 2015

Hi, Adam Ring here with Innovative-IDM. I want to take a few minutes and talk about UL508A, which is basically Underwriter’s Laboratories and it’s a standard for industrial control panel design. What is it all about?

Basically, you want to able to make sure that your control panel is safe, it uses good design practices, it has circuit protection, and that certain steps or precautions are taken to make sure that the thing doesn’t catch on fire when something goes wrong. At the end of the day, you need a supplier that is UL508A certified that can make sure all those things are covered and eventually put a sticker in your control panel that it meets all those requirements.

Now, you can go and do this yourself if you like, and a lot of people do. The challenge is, you end up paying an annual fee, and then a quarterly inspection fee. If you’re not really having a demand for a lot of control panels that are UL508A, it ends up being quite expensive for just getting a little bit of use.

One of the things that Innovative-IDM can do for you is to build UL508A control panels when necessary. We go through all the certifications and pay all the fees, so that we can serve customers like you and make sure that you get what you need in a timely manner. If you’d like to learn more about how Innovative-IDM can help you with your UL508A needs, check us out, at innovativeidm.com. After all, we are Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

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Top 5 reasons Allen-Bradley May not be your best application solution

January 20, 2015

Be sure to visit our knowledge Center – http://www.innovativeidm.com/Resources.aspx

Innovative IDM
1625 Wallace Drive, Ste. 110
Carrollton, Texas 75006
Call: 877-906-2100

Hi my name is Jack Marsh with Innovative IDM. Today I’d like to talk a little bit about Allen Bradley and maybe perhaps why it’s not always the best solution for your application. Allen Bradley makes fine products, and they are quality products, and they’ve got a very broad offering, but they are not always the perfect solution for every application. We’ve really identified, 5 reasons why that’s the case.

Alan Bradley has a very successful top down marketing approach, and convinced large end users in specific market segments, to standardize on their products. And then those end users can dictate to the machine builders that they go to, that Allen Bradley is the products that’s going to be used in their machines, but that allows Allen Bradley to charge more for their hardware and software. They don’t have to be competitive with the market if their users are dictating their products are going to be used in the machines. There’s also the support cost. If you don’t have a service agreement, or a purchase order, or a credit card, handy when you call Allen Bradley for factory support you’re going to be out of luck. So you better have those things in mind when you call to get support from them

Then all of their software sold on an alacart basis, so say for example you purchase the PLC programming software then say later on down the road you find that you need to configure some network communications, or perhaps you want to simulate the PLC and HMI interactions without having the hardware present. Well that network communication suit is an additional product you’re going to have to purchase, the simulation package is an additional product you’re going to have to purchase. Wherein a lot of other manufactures those functions are built into the software you buy for the programming.

Another thing Alan Bradley does that allows them to offer a very broad product line without incurring high development cost is to private label products from other manufactures, but the downside of that is there is not a consistent look and feel across the product line. So a small ac drive for example may program and configure completely differently than the large variable frequency drives from Allan Bradley. And if one of the manufacturers there private labeling from happens to have a discontinuation or product change there are ramifications for Allen Bradley products that are beyond their control, there might not be a simple replacement for that.

And then the last thing to consider is the international support. While Allen Bradley has a very large market share in the US their presence in Europe and Asia is not nearly as large so if you’re building machines for the overseas market and you’re going to need support after it’s installed that might be an issue.

If you’d line to research some of the options to Allen Bradley such as Omron, Yaskawa, Parker, or Wago, please visit our website at innovativeidm.com and remember Innovative IDM is the home of the legendary customer experience.

How to make Multiple Fieldbus Networks Communicate

December 30, 2014

Be sure to visit our knowledge Center – http://www.innovativeidm.com/Resources.aspx

Innovative-IDM
1625 Wallace Drive, Ste. 110
Carrollton, Texas 75006
Call: 877-906-2100

Hi, I’m Jeff Rogers with Innovative-IDM.  One of the biggest challenges facing today’s automation specialists is the way to make multiple fieldbuses communicate with upstream and downstream equipment.  It’s a very daunting task that could take a lot of programming knowledge that could probably be covered in several college courses.  Today we are going to keep it pretty high level and talk about a few components that could be used should you find yourself having to do this.

The first thing is the type of fieldbus.  There are all different kinds of fieldbuses out there.  Some are proprietary, some are open-source, meaning anyone could use that type of protocol whenever designing a piece of equipment.  So obviously, the ones that are proprietary are going to be harder to make communicate with other pieces of equipment, because the gateway type equipment that can be used are somewhat limited.  There’s just not that many of them out there.  Other fieldbuses for instance, probably one of the most well-known is Ethernet, be it internet IP, Ethernet EPCIP is very widely used standard that I see getting more and more popular every day.  It seems to be becoming the standard if people have a choice.  So remember proprietary is going to be a bigger challenge, but there are ways of getting around that.  What you have to consider is not only the protocol that you need to make it communicate with other protocols but also the transmission media.  You can actually transmit profibus protocol over an Ethernet cord, over a cat 5 cord with RJ45 connectors on it.  So you have to remember just because the cord looks the same doesn’t mean that the protocol is going to be the same.  So remember those things.  Ideally I always tell people if it is a new piece of equipment and you want to make sure it is going to communicate with all your other equipment you really need to get with that OEM and almost demand that they use a network you are familiar with so you don’t have to go through that hassle because it’s not fun, it’s kind of a pain.  Ideally use should try to standardize on a type of protocol that you are familiar with that’s flexible, gives you many different options and a lot of manufacturers support, such as Ethernet.  I would say that is probably the most common in today’s market.  Now if you do find yourself, for instance if you have older equipment in your plant that already has a different protocol on it and you want it to be able to communicate with say your Skada setup, or just for some sort of monitoring device or an add on or anything like that to the machine and those two protocols need to be able to talk to each other, then you could setup what is called a gateway.  There are different devices that can be used as a gateway which is just allowing two protocols to communicate with each other.

The three most common gateways are:

  • Manufacturers out there that make simple discrete adapter components.
    • You plug on piece of equipment in one and another on the other end and it allows the equipment to communicate with each other through an internal circuit board.
    • They are limited and can be pricey, the manufacturers of them are pretty proud of them. If you have a lot of components where you need to be able to make a bunch of different components talk to each other that could get sort of pricey.
  • PLC or IO system
    • They can be programmed for making different types of communication protocols talk to each other. For instance, WAGO has an IO system that is known as fieldbus independent.  They have fieldbus couplers that support all of the open protocols that exist in today’s market.  For instance, this one right here supports Ethernet.  If I wanted to make Ethernet talk to Modbus then I could drop a Modbus card in right here and have those two components talk to each other.  For instance, if I had a touchscreen that only communicated via Modbus and I wanted to make it talk to a piece of equipment, say a variable frequency drive that communicated over Ethernet I could use this component as the go between.  Often time people use touchscreen HMIs themselves as the gateway.  This particular touchscreen has both Modbus capabilities as well as Ethernet built in to it.  You could plug one piece of equipment in one port and a different piece of equipment that might be a different protocol into the other port and make them communicate via this device essentially turning it into a gateway.  It can get pretty complicated.  There is a lot of ins and outs as far as needing to know how to program those things, addressing registers properly with in a program to make all those talk.  That’s something we have a lot of experience with because it does come up.
  • Networking is extremely important,
    • it will only become even more important as time goes on because the top brass at all the plants and manufacturing companies around the world are always going to want better access to information, efficiency data, also remote control and data acquisition capabilities. All of that has to be done through networking all these pieces of equipment together.

If you need any help with that please contact us.  We have programming specialists, application specialists that can come out and help you with that.  You can also find information located on our website in our knowledge center.  Just go to innovativeidm.com and you will find our knowledge center there.  It has white papers, for the specific products we support, on how to set them up.  After all we are Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

Industrial Electronics How To Tell Whether To Repair Or Replace

December 16, 2014

Be sure to visit our knowledge Center – http://www.innovativeidm.com/Resources.aspx

Innovative IDM
1625 Wallace Drive, Ste. 110
Carrollton, Texas 75006
Call: 877-906-2100

Hi, I’m Jeff Rodgers with Innovative IDM. You know, a true dichotomy really does exist between the age old question of should I repair my electronic component or just throw it out and replace it with a new one. Well first thing is, if you have an electronic component go down, we all know that time costs money. So, priority number one is get back up and running. If it’s that critical of a component, hopefully you’ve got a spare on the shelf to replace it with. If not, you probably have bigger problems than just that question. So let’s say you replace the component with your spare that’s on the shelf and now you’ve got a bad component. Well should you just toss it, or should you have it validated for repair?

Well, the one thing you might want to consider is, if you are going to have it evaluated for repair you want to make sure that that piece of equipment goes to a reputable firm that’s done it for a long time, offers you a warranty on that product, and is not going to just repair it but really refurbish that piece of equipment. You want to make sure that when it comes back, one component that was fixed can’t allow another component to fail right afterwards. So all the wear components really need to have been replaced. Now a good rule of thumb is that you probably want to make sure it’s not going to cost you over half the price of a new piece of equipment or it may not really be worth it. So just kinda really keep that in mind.

So real common components that you could have evaluated for repair are going to be variable frequency drives, touch screen HMIs are another big one that can be a failure point and can prove to be pretty expensive to buy new. IO cards, processors, temperature controllers, any kind of controllers in general, motion controllers, process controllers, all of the above.

So, another thing you really ought to think about is you know when it comes to cost, not just what its gonna cost to repair the component but if you did need to replace the component, is that component obsolete, is it even made anymore? So if it’s not made anymore, then if you need to replace that piece of equipment and you have to go to something new, now you’ve got to think about cost in terms of time and resources needed to make that work with all the equipment. Is there going to be any new programming that is involved and do you have time to do that while your lines down. You know all your up and down stream equipment is it going to work properly with that new piece of equipment. A lot of times that’s not the case, it may be a variable act of congress to get that new piece of equipment to work with that old piece of machinery. So if it is obsolete you may really want to think about getting that component repaired because a lot of times you can keep that component repaired. It’s more than likely if you know its repaired by a reputable firm it’s going to have the same amount of warranty on it as a brand new product would, and it’s probably going to be the fraction of the cost of a new component.

So, again repairs can be a great way to reduce maintenance budgets. The cost associated with replacing electronic components especially if you have an event like a lighting strike that can take out a slew of different components on a single drop can prove to be extremely costly. So just remember that, that way if you do have a piece of equipment that goes bad you can replace it with what’s on the shelf as a spare, and then have your bad unit repaired and now that goes back onto the shelf as your spare. So now your spare just cost you a fraction of what it would have cost brand new off the shelf in the first place.

So, Innovative-IDM is one of the premier service organizations out there for repairing industrial electronics. One thing that you can do is visit our website, which is innovativeidm.com/repairs and that will get you into our repair center. Once you’re there, you can look up certain components that we’ve actually repaired in the past and see what it’s going to cost to repair that component without even having to send it to us. If you do send it to us, it’s going to be a free evaluation, typically it takes us 24 – 48 hours to evaluate something for repair. And then, we are going to send you a quote on that and you can elect to have it repaired, returned, or scrapped, it’s your choice. If we do repair something for you, it’s going to give you a new one year warranty on a component from the date of repair. Another thing is, there’s an easy online tool that you can use to actually log in, enter in your email address, and it’ll locate all your information and you can basically just enter in the information about the components you’re going to send in, hit submit, and it will print out a service ticket that you put in the box with the component you’re going to send our repair depot in our Houston facility. The shipping address is right on it, so you don’t even have to wait for a representative from our company to come out and pick that piece of equipment up. Of course, if you are working with one of our field representatives they would be happy to come by and pick the component up, and bring it in for repair if they can fit it in their vehicle.

So, any questions you have on that again you can visit our website or contact one of our representatives and we’d be happy to assist you. After all we are Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

4 Common Machine Safety Infractions And How To Correct Them

December 9, 2014

Be sure to visit our knowledge Center – http://www.innovativeidm.com/Resources.aspx

Innovative IDM
1625 Wallace Drive, Ste. 110
Carrollton, Texas 75006
Call: 877-906-2100

Hi I’m Lonnie Muse with Innovative IDM. I’ve been in plants for over 30 years, there’s a lot of things that happen in a plant that you just would not believe, you will see a lot of people that’s missing a finger for instance, and how did that happen? You see there are people who just don’t pay attention, but there are about 4 things that we are going to talk about that will help you reduce some of those injuries.
Number one: a lot of people don’t pay attention to pinch points on machines where I can get close and get my clothes or my fingers or my toes into a gear, a shear or anything else along that way. We need guarding on that. Guarding can come in the form of fencing, something to block people from getting to that point, or light curtains, or other opportunities for it to stop the machine so those pinch points won’t happen. We’ve got to pay attention to what’s around the machine so that it doesn’t hurt people, because we know that they are not going to pay attention. To give you an example, in a foundry where we were pouring aluminum into a mold, here’s a big vat with several thousand degrees of molten aluminum. Our robot dipped into the vat, pulled out the aluminum and headed down the line to a mold. One of the operators came out in front of the robot as it was running down the line, everybody’s screaming at him to get out of the way and he said well it will see me. Robots don’t have eyes. And he was lucky that the molten aluminum didn’t hit him because he wouldn’t have any eyes either at the end of that. People don’t pay attention, so we have to help and protect them.
In the rules today, machines are not required to have all the guarding and safety features necessary in the United States made by the manufactures and there are plenty that don’t. So, it’s up to the user to make sure their machines are guarded well and don’t hurt anyone and that’s by OSHAs standards.
Another issue is when you do get something close like an E stop and it doesn’t necessarily work, it doesn’t shut the machine down. It might stop, but does it stop in time? So E stops are important. Are they within reach where the operators are, are there pull switches where the operator can get a hold of them or someone close by where the material is that will stop the machine very quickly so they don’t get hurt. That’s one other place where a lot of safety is lacking.
The other is in protective equipment. On the electrical side what I’m talking about is PPE, Personal Protect Equipment. Face shields, nomex coveralls that won’t burn. If we look at NFPA70E, that’s arc flash, open up the panel and there’s an arc flash – if you’re not protected you will be awfully sorry you didn’t put something on to protect you that’s supplied by the owner of the company that the person works for. So protective equipment, glasses, ear plugs, all sorts of protection equipment. There’s electrical protection too. For instance, ground fault isolators in the panels. If you’re missing a ground and don’t have a ground fault, you could get people shocked.
The last one is really more of the management opportunities you have by properly reporting the incidences you have. OSHA requires that report. If you’re not following the OSHA rules then when the inspector comes in, for whatever reason, you could be in a little bit of trouble.
So, to recap there’s a lot of pinch points there not guarded, there’s stopping, E stops and pull stops that aren’t happening, don’t have the right equipment or there’s electrical equipment or there’s personal protection equipment, and we’re not reporting well.
If you need more information, go to our website at innovativeidm.com and look for safety. After all were Home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

Safety Rated vs NonSafety Rated Components

December 2, 2014

Be sure to visit our knowledge Center – http://www.innovativeidm.com/Resources.aspx

Innovative IDM
1625 Wallace Drive, Ste. 110
Carrollton, Texas 75006
Call: 877-906-2100

Hi, my name is Jeff Rogers. Often times I’m asked what the difference is between safety rated and non-safety rated components. There is a really big difference. I often walk into plants and see components all over the place that people are using such as through beam sensors for perimeter guarding that are not safety rated. To not use safety rated components can mean the difference between a law suit, potential injury or death and just a properly functioning safety system. A few things that I wanted to discuss today are a few of the differences between the two, how they can resemble each other and still be completely different, and what is going to make one a better choice than the other.
If you are going to use a component for a safety circuit, when you are thinking safety components that needs to ring in your mind reliability, redundancy, and fail safe. Those are the three main things that should come to mind when thinking about that. Like the example I stated earlier a through beam sensor can be used as a perimeter guard, but if it is not hooked up to a safety monitoring relay for instance if there is a problem with that sensor the circuit may not know. Your machine may keep operating even if someone walks through and someone could potentially get hurt by that piece of equipment. There are also things out there such as programmable safety controllers that exist, as well as just discrete components such as interlocks or safety rope pulls that have certain types of internal components that are used so that it’s reliable, it’s called control reliability. That’s the one thing you always want to make sure. You’ll hear things such as force guided contacts that are important in these types of components it basically means if a contact welds shut it can then be forced open so that the circuit can be broken. Most safety circuits are closed circuits, so in the event of power loss the circuit is broken and everything fails to a stop. If you look at this interlock you can see this is a tongue and groove type interlock. The internals of it you can see if I push on the plunger in here you can see that red piece moves the contacts up and down. They are all mechanically linked together. That is one example. Another thing is this symbol right here which is a circle with an arrow inside of it stands for forced guided contact. That is important to use when picking out safety components.
The things that you really want to remember are the safety regulated components are more expensive, they always will be because of the redundancy that is built in. When it could mean serious injury or death don’t go cheap because if you do it could cost you more in the long run. If you are not sure, there are a lot of grey areas, ask somebody. Don’t leave it to chance. There are professionals out there. You could go to our website at innovative-idm.com and go to our knowledge center. We have white pages that exist and we could come out on site and help you solve those things. We’re not the safety police. We’re not going to report you to OSHA, but we want to help you make better decisions when dealing with safety circuits and know that there is a difference. Using non safety rated components in a safety circuit is never okay. That is all I have for you today. After all we are the home of the Legendary Customer Experience.

5 Reasons Manufacturers Outsource Assembly Work

November 25, 2014

Be sure to visit our knowledge Center – http://www.innovativeidm.com/Resources.aspx

Innovative IDM
1625 Wallace Drive, Ste. 110
Carrollton, Texas 75006
Call: 877-906-2100

Hi Adam Ring with Innovative IDM. Now it’s a growing trend in industry for regional equipment manufactures to outsource all or part of their assembly work. Now there’s five primary reasons why a company might look at doing that.
The first one is the idea of variable versus fixed overhead. If you hire a bunch workers and have a large building you have quite a bit of fixed overhead because you got to pay for that rent every month, you got to pay the salaries of those employees, you got to pay for the benefits. So whether you have a lot of work to do or a little bit of work to do you still have to pay that fixed overhead.
Well if you outsource that assembly work then you are only paying for the work when you need it and as much as you need it. And so if you get a lot of work come in the door one day you can outsource that and another company basically like Innovative IDM could provide that assembly work for you. And if things slow down hey you don’t have to lay them off you don’t have to fire them you don’t have to pay unemployment you just simply don’t place more orders and when things get busy again you can place more orders with them.
Another point of why manufacturers outsource assembly work is you don’t have to go through the whole cycle of hiring, of training, and then firing, and then basically doing that over and over and over again in order to maintain a good staff of assembly techs. Also another really, really good reason why a lot of companies outsource their assembly work is they are just not in the business of doing certain things. Take this control panel for example. If you’re not in the business of building control panels, then why build it yourself? Why not outsource it to a company that is in the business, that’s experts at doing work just like this.
Now from an ownership perspective, it enables you by outsourcing all of the assembly work or a portion of it, in order to ship way more machines, so you’re not limited in the resources and space you have available. You can basically distribute that work out, and get more done in the same amount of time. And that in turn leads us to our last point, which improves cash flow so you basically get assemblies in, you don’t have to pay for them for typically 30 days after you get them in, and by that time you can get them installed in your machine, shipped that machine, and get that clock ticking to get paid by your customer. You also reduce the amount of inventory you have to carry so you don’t have that money tied up on the shelf in the form of parts. You can use it in the bank, where its working for you, and by outsourcing assembly work, you can utilize the just in time techniques, that enable you to get parts exactly when you need it so that it can literally be married to the machine when its ready for it and get it out the door as quick as possible.
So once again the 5 most common reasons companies outsource assembly work, the variable verses fixed overhead, not having to hire and train and fire assembly techs, just simply not in the business of doing certain kinds of work, you’re enabled to ship more machines in a given amount of time, and finally you get improved cash flow, reduced inventory, and able to get parts when you need them at the exact time when you need them. So if you’d like to learn more about outsourced assembly work, contact us innovativeidm.com we’re the home of the legendary customer experience.