Improving speed to market: Navigating EV assembly challenges

The electric vehicle (EV) revolution gains more momentum every day, driving change to automotive manufacturing in unprecedented ways. With rapidly growing demand comes the need to rapidly scale assembly operations — and that can create significant challenges. 

Vehicle manufacturers constantly seek new, more productive automation technologies to boost their quality and productivity. Along with many common assembly workflows, they face new challenges associated with scaling up battery pack and e-axle production. They need automation solutions to help integrate electric battery and powertrain production seamlessly into overall assembly processes. 

Bosch Rexroth has an industry-leading portfolio of automation technology to satisfy these needs, with decades of experience providing manufacturing and automation solutions to leading automotive OEMs, as well as Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers. 

Broad range of assembly challenges

Electric vehicles have replaced engines, gas tanks and transmissions with electric motors, regenerative braking technology and advanced battery packs. Assembling these new components presents unique challenges; at the same time, there are assembly processes common to both EV and internal combustion (IC) vehicle assembly lines.

For example, EVs have body parts that are welded using high-speed six-axis robots with advanced welding controls. Extremely precise control of weld quality is critical to the long-term performance of the vehicle; poor welds can lead to separation and vibration in body parts over time.

To solve these complex welding challenges with maximum speed and absolute quality control, Bosch Rexroth has introduced the PRC7000 welding controller platform. 

The PRC7000 expands the number of heat blocks available, so plant operations can customize welding to specific throughput and material characteristics — a major advantage over older-generation systems. Also, it can store up to 10,000 welding programs that can be easily built via a drag-and-drop interface to incorporate more sophisticated welding sequences.

Improving manual assembly

Even though EV plants are highly automated, they also use the latest manual assembly methods to install a wide range of components and systems. Assemblers install headlights, windshields, retractable sunroofs, seats and door and window controls, often also connecting them to the vehicle’s control module. Exact precision in this process is critical to deliver vehicles that operate as flawlessly as possible.

Bosch Rexroth offers an advanced portfolio of intelligent tightening tools to provide the productivity and quality control needed for these manual processes. They provide the precise, repeatable performance crucial to high-volume assembly lines. The portfolio includes the EXACT ION series of cordless screwdrivers, offering industry-leading accuracy, durability and energy efficiency, as well as ergonomic design and lower weight to enhance worker comfort.

Wider use of these kinds of i4.0-ready tools helps assembly lines increase throughput and operate with greater flexibility as different vehicle models move through the line, while at the same time generating critical data that plant operators can use to improve training, adjust workflows and apply lean manufacturing principles. 

Multiple technologies to boost battery pack production

There are four major steps in battery pack production common to most operations: electrode production, cell assembly, module assembly and pack construction, which also typically includes end-of-line battery testing. 

Each stage uses a complex array of automation technologies to go from raw materials to completed packs. Given the critical role of the battery in the long-term performance and value of EVs, battery production requires high throughput rates combined with extremely tight assembly tolerances and quality control systems. 

In electrode production, raw materials move through multiple automated processing steps. Maximizing control over these processes requires technologies that ensure cells are created with desired electrochemical properties, lifecycle and energy density.

Bosch Rexroth’s ctrlX AUTOMATION platform features advanced controller and drive systems designed precisely for these high-throughput production processes. The ctrlX CORE controller provides advanced closed-loop sag and loop control to eliminate breakage and minimize waste. It also supports high-speed multi-axis synchronization for web speed and position alignment.

In cell production, individual batteries — cylindrical, pouch or other format — are combined into cells. Many manufacturers are working to optimize the stacking process in this step because streamlining stacking can improve the throughput of the entire line. 

High-speed robotic handling systems, either delta robots or linear robots, are essential tools in this stacking process. The Smart Function Kit for Handling is a highly efficient linear robot option well-suited to this process step. It is truly plug-and-produce: modern online tools support quick and intuitive component selection and configuration, and the pre-installed software allows for easier commissioning, supporting faster production start and helping speed to market.

Modular movement and transport solutions

Going from raw materials to a tested and installed battery pack presents a major automation transport challenge. With each assembly step, weight and component size increases, so a range of material transport conveyors and other systems is necessary. 

From transfer systems for rapidly moving products weighing a few grams to linear motor-driven systems that can precisely transport up to over 400 kg, state-of-the-art conveyors and linear motor transport systems maximize efficient use of factory floor space and enable smoothly flowing, intelligently connected production.

VarioFlow plus plastic chain conveyors are proven systems that rapidly move cell assemblies horizontally, vertically, around obstacles or integrated with other process flows. These also support workpiece pallets to convey cell components where positioning or higher stopping precision is needed.

Further down the line, Bosch Rexroth offers the linear motor-based Flexible Transport System (FTS). It supports pallet-based transport and allows for individual carrier control for more complex movement at faster throughput rates. Combined with our intralogistics autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), Bosch Rexroth is uniquely equipped to address virtually every battery production transport challenge.

Successful assembly lines design conveyor and material transport solutions early in the development process, not as a final step once all the production machines and cells have been defined. This helps ensure productive movement of products and materials through every process step and prevents building in non-value-added transport time. Bosch Rexroth has deep experience helping select and connect different transport systems so the right material flow is established — and can be easily modified as production requirements evolve.

Automation insight to improve EV assembly productivity

As EV manufacturers are under pressure to expand production, they run risks by simply throwing technology at their throughput challenges, rather than considering how well their technology and component choices work together. All this assembly technology should be engineered and harmonized to maximize throughput without sacrificing the quality of the end product.

Bosch Rexroth can leverage its industry-leading automation portfolio and deep automotive manufacturing expertise to help prevent this risk. We have productive partnerships with leading factory automation specialists. They work with our experienced automation technology experts, following a unique, concurrent engineering approach. 

Using this approach, we partner to conduct system design, programming and component acquisition and integration in tight, overlapping time frames to deploy complete automation solutions more rapidly. 

Our solutions encompass virtually every major step in EV manufacturing, with specialized expertise in EV battery pack production. Our concurrent engineering methodology succeeds because we back it, and all our complete automation solutions, with global engineering, service and technical support resources.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Bosch Rexroth breaks new ground with the planar system ctrlX FLOW6D

Greater freedom and precision in the area of contactless high-performance transport and positioning

  • 6D planar system added to the ctrlX AUTOMATION portfolio
  • Movers move in six degrees of freedom, even where space is very limited
  • Control system ctrlX CORE with apps for planar systems

Planar systems offer enormous potential for a variety of industry segments. With ctrlX FLOW6D, Bosch Rexroth has raised contactless high-performance transport and positioning to a new level. Free-floating transport platforms, so-called movers, are moved on a horizontal, vertical or overhead working surface. Each mover acts in six degrees of freedom at high speed and with great precision – without any friction or pollution. Integration into the automation toolkit ctrlX AUTOMATION results in an overall solution with a compact control system and apps to increase the range of functions.

A planar system serves as a contactless levitation system for the efficient and safe transport, positioning and handling of loads. On a working surface which can be adapted in a modular fashion, a number of differently shaped and sized movers can be controlled in six dimensions. Strong, specially arranged permanent magnets make this possible. Given their modularity and easily adaptable nature, planar systems can be used in numerous industrial sectors, for example in the semiconductor industry, the food sector, the pharmaceuticals industry or in assembly systems.

The ctrlX FLOW6D planar system allows contactless high-performance transport and positioning in six dimensions.

New planar system takes off

ctrlX FLOW6D offers new room for maneuver and innovative concepts for production systems. Bosch Rexroth has given the system numerous properties to make it stand out from other well-known technologies. Much larger movement ranges, for example a floating height of 20 mm, a 10° tilting angle and endless rotation in any location set new standards. The six degrees of freedom of each mover can be combined with each other as required. For example, rotation and tilting are possible during travel. Vertical or overhead system operation is also possible.

The movers are connected: Power and data are available to users on the floating platform. A mover can be converted into an active agent by adding actuators, sensors and handling components.

This and other properties allow entirely new system concepts and workflows. For example, movers can be operated in a process chamber, transport and process tasks can be combined seamlessly and transport systems can be standardized. The additional degrees of freedom mean that fewer peripheral devices are needed. As a result, the system becomes more compact and cheaper.

“ctrlX FLOW6D forms the backbone of a flexible and efficient production facility. As an open system, it can interact seamlessly with various other systems. Software-controlled production allows it to be adapted to changing products or processes quickly,” explained Steffen Winkler, Vice President Sales, Business Unit Automation & Electrification Solutions at Bosch Rexroth.

By incorporating ctrlX FLOW6D into its automation world, Bosch Rexroth has created an integrated, agile system. “ctrlX AUTOMATION provides the software platform for design, simulation, engineering, operation and service. With ctrlX CORE, we offer a compact, high-performance control system which allows users to make optimum use of the new planar system technology. New functions can easily be added as apps available from the ctrlX Store. As a result, full use of the potential of levitation can be made,” said Steffen Winkler.

To learn more, please visit www.boschrexroth.com

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Expert Advice: Retrofitting a Facility for Warehouse Automation

Guest Contributor:  Rittal North America LLC

The material handling industry has experienced some massive changes during the last few years: the acceleration of e-commerce, expansion into new and emerging markets, emphasis on rapid delivery, and increased importance of speed to market, to name a few.

As a result, material handlers are faced with the choice of expanding their operations either through new parcel processing facilities or retrofitting existing warehouses with state-of-the-art automation equipment. 

While the challenges of building a new automated warehouse are fairly cut and dry — location, resources, cost, and construction time — the hurdles that arise when retrofitting an existing facility for automation are more complicated. To help engineers in the material handling industry understand what they need to know when retrofitting a warehouse for a modern automation infrastructure, we’re giving the floor to a couple of our industrial automation experts:

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Sal Falzone, Rittal Vertical Marketing Manager, Retail & Logistics

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Semih Kocahasan, Account Manager

In this blog, Sal and Semih will discuss in their own words what material handlers should consider when retrofitting a facility for warehouse automation.

The importance of working around a smaller automation footprint

The first thing engineers and designers need to consider when retrofitting for automated material handling is the square footage of the space and the automation footprint necessary to facilitate the vast number of parcels that will be processed in the facility. 

Sal Falzone: Those looking to retrofit old facilities or those that were not used in this way will have to use different technologies. For example, overhead conveyor systems are one way to get creative with the lack of physical floor space in some of these facilities. 

Overhead conveyor systems utilize the space above the warehouse floor and such systems will require a compact industrial enclosure with variable mounting options and wiring flexibility within the box itself. 

Rittal’s AX compact enclosure is a wall mounted enclosure that can be easily customized to suit the needs of specific industrial applications without sacrificing the protection and security of mission-critical electronic components.

Semih Kocahasan: We’re seeing more and more small enclosures like the AX being spec’d for retrofitted material handling facilities — in fact, we’re also seeing small enclosures being used in new warehouses as well. I think that speaks to the versatility of the product.

The need for speed in material handling

The material handling industry is perhaps one of the most competitive in today’s market. The sheer number of parcels in the pipeline and the variety of material handlers processing them means the need for speed has never been greater. Prolonged lead times, disruptions in productivity, or unplanned maintenance intervals can be significant stumbling blocks. That’s why material handlers need industrial enclosure solutions that can be delivered and deployed quickly and easily. 

While supply chain disruptions are a common culprit in bogging down productivity, customization of industrial enclosures for use in retrofitted warehouses plays a significant role in deployment and integration delays. 

Semih Kocahasan: Speed really is the top concern for those looking to retrofit right now, especially with material scarcities and labor shortages. Standard enclosures that can be flexible in how they’re configured on the floor can not only increase speed-to-market, but  also provide assemblers and integrators more options in configuring the enclosure based on the need or specific application. 

Rittal’s VX SE Freestanding Enclosure System is a standard product that combines durability, versatility, and reliability for use in any material handling facility. 

Sal Falzone: The VX SE is a really interesting combo of a traditional unibody enclosure and a modular enclosure. That combination of protection and flexibility opens a lot of doors for material handlers as they evaluate the challenges of retrofitting while also weighing how quickly their enclosures can land at their loading dock and then be installed on the factory floor. 

The VX SE can easily be scaled based on demand or space constraints. The VX SE offers a wide range of dimensions with widths up to 1800 mm to replace up to three baying enclosures and depths starting at 300 mm for confined production applications. In addition, IP 66 and NEMA 4/4X ratings provide superior protection against harsh environmental conditions. 

Semih Kocahasan: Shortening your lead times is really the biggest pain point in retrofitting a space for warehouse automation. Companies that can alleviate that by going with standard products will put themselves in the best position to succeed.

Learn more about our products and solutions designed specifically for use in the material handling industry.  

Categories: Retail and Logistics

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CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Rittal distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Capacitive, the Other Proximity Sensor

Guest Contributor: Jack Moermond, Balluff

What is the first thing that comes to mind if someone says “proximity sensor?” My guess is the inductive sensor, and justly so because it is the most used sensor in automation today. There are other technologies that use the term proximity in describing the sensing mode, including diffuse or proximity photoelectric sensors that use the reflectivity of the object to change states and proximity mode of ultrasonic sensors that use high-frequency sound waves to detect objects. All these sensors detect objects that are in close proximity to the sensor without making physical contact. One of the most overlooked or forgotten proximity sensors on the market today is the capacitive sensor.

Capacitive sensors are suitable for solving numerous applications. These sensors can be used to detect objects, such as glass, wood, paper, plastic, or ceramic, regardless of material color, texture, or finish. The list goes on and on. Since capacitive sensors can detect virtually anything, they can detect levels of liquids including water, oil, glue, and so forth, and they can detect levels of solids like plastic granules, soap powder, sand, and just about anything else. Levels can be detected either directly, when the sensor touches the medium, or indirectly when it senses the medium through a non-metallic container wall.

Capacitive sensors overview

Like any other sensor, there are certain considerations to account for when applying capacitive, multipurpose sensors, including:

1 – Target

  • Capacitive sensors can detect virtually any material.
  • The target material’s dielectric constant determines the reduction factor of the sensor. Metal / Water > Wood > Plastic > Paper.
  • The target size must be equal to or larger than the sensor face.

2 – Sensing distance

  • The rated sensing distance, or what you see in a catalog, is based on a mild steel target that is the same size as the sensor face.
  • The effective sensing distance considers mounting, supply voltage, and temperature. It is adjusted by the integral potentiometer or other means.
  • Additional influences that affect the sensing distance are the sensor housing shape, sensor face size, and the mounting style of the sensor (flush, non-flush).

3 – Environment

  • Temperatures from 160 to 180°F require special considerations. The high-temperature version sensors should be used in applications above this value.
  • Wet or very humid applications can cause false positives if the dielectric strength of the target is low.
  • In most instances, dust or material buildup can be tuned out if the target dielectric is higher than the dust contamination.

4 – Mounting

  • Installing capacitive sensors is very similar to installing inductive sensors. Flush sensors can be installed flush to the surrounding material. The distance between the sensors is two times the diameter of the sensing distance.
  • Non-flush sensors must have a free area around the sensor at least one diameter of the sensor or the sensing distance.

5 – Connector

  • Quick disconnect – M8 or M12.
  • Potted cable.

6 – Sensor

  • The sensor sensing area or face must be smaller or equal to the target material.
  • Maximum sensing distance is measured on metal – reduction factor will influence all sensing distances.
  • Use flush versions to reduce the effects of the surrounding material. Some plastic sensors will have a reduced sensing range when embedded in metal. Use a flush stainless-steel body to get the full sensing range.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when applying capacitive sensors. There is not “a” capacitive sensor application – but there are many which can be solved cost-effectively and reliably with these sensors.

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CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Why automation needs digital twins

Karsten Kreusch. Game Changer
ctrlX WORKS

Whether in relation to components, machinery or complete production processes, these days digital twins play an important role in product lifecycles. As digital replicas of products or processes, they depict their properties, status and behavior and hence connect the real world with a virtual one. As such, they ensure reliable processes throughout the development stage, commissioning and operations and can be used for optimization purposes and to improve quality and increase efficiency. The potential that digital twins possess can also be leveraged for ctrlX AUTOMATION.

Digital twins usually depict various different aspects, e.g. they often combine simulation models with data. Firstly, they can be used to provide a virtual mock-up of products, machinery or plants for simulation purposes. Secondly, they can be used to clearly visualize real-life procedures and processes and hence better understand them as well as test and optimize them virtually and automatically – without having to intervene in reality.

Digital twins can not only improve development and production processes thanks to prognoses but can also improve understanding, contribute to transparency and enhance the performance of the real-life operations of systems or plants. Digital twins make product development simpler, more reliable and more efficient. In addition to the optimization of product features by means of simulation processes, the interplay between hardware and software can, for example, also be tested virtually early on and any errors can be identified and rectified prior to commissioning with zero risks involved. Engineering or production processes can therefore be made more efficient – benefiting not only component and machine manufacturers but end users too.

The so-called asset administration shell (AAS) is becoming the standard for the implementation of digital twins in Industry 4.0 systems and has been standardized in IEC63278. Accordingly, each I4.0 component is represented by an AAS, which forms an information shell for an asset or a hierarchy of assets. It describes all contained sub-models, which depict aspects such as sensor data or positioning mode, as well as available functions. In production, the AAS is used to ensure interoperability and IT security in manufacturing and IT systems by means of a set of standardized interfaces, such as OPC UA, TSN, DetNet, REST, JSON and XML, etc. Bosch Rexroth also aligns itself with this industry standard for the implementation of digital twins, thus continuing the pursuit of its strategy of openness.

Replicating and testing Bosch Rexroth products virtually

ctrlX AUTOMATION provides users with various different ways of using digital twins. Firstly, all sorts of different virtual replicas of Bosch Rexroth’s automation products can be created. Secondly, corresponding partner apps from the ctrlX World can be used for various digital twin applications.

One or more virtual controls can be created on a PC with the software and engineering toolbox ctrlX WORKS and operated via a web-based interface. ctrlX COREvirtual is the virtual version of the real-life control and is based on identical software. The virtual replica can be used to conduct tests and carry out commissioning without any control hardware – with full functionality. The simulation model is, for example, used to test PLC and motion programs. It is also used for communications tests between a control and the I/O level of a system.

Digital twins can also be used to virtually commission, parameterize and optimize products from Bosch Rexroth’s drive and motor range, including as part of considerations concerning mechatronic systems or complete machines. This also applies for the most compact drive system on the market, ctrlX DRIVE. Drive models are available to users for different application scenarios and various simulation systems available on the market, for example for MATLAB/Simulink, Modelica-based systems and ISG Virtuos.

Scalable simulation solutions for different use cases

In addition to the digital twins of ctrlX AUTOMATION products, the openness and expandability of the system offer a wealth of further possibilities. As such, IoT functionalities can, for example, be implemented for acquiring data and thus for generating digital twins of complete production processes. Users can use Bosch Rexroth’s IoT apps or those of partners from the ctrlX World for this. They can even develop their own apps with the Software Development Kit.

Bosch Rexroth offers scalable simulation solutions to suit any requirements through which simulations can be carried out for peripherals, kinematics, dynamics and physics in various topologies. The solutions thus enable an extremely broad range of applications, from kinematic simulation with 3D geometries right through to the connection of high-level simulation systems.

Digital twins are much more than visual reproductions of reality and accompany products as digital shadows all the way through to operations and service. Digital twins are, for example, ideal in mechanical and plant engineering for the real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance of machinery and plants. Digital information can be seamlessly orchestrated in real time.

The possible applications are therefore practically endless. Bosch Rexroth customers therefore have numerous options for easily optimizing processes, improving the quality of their products and achieving safety through transparency – right from the development stage all the way through to ongoing operations.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Step into a more productive factory

Web Editorial Team | Editor

Six practical steps to greater productivity for manufacturers.

Bosch Rexroth

Finding ways to increase productivity has always been an important part of manufacturing. But against the current backdrop of demand volatility, inflation, a shortage of skilled workers and the requirement for smaller batch sizes, increasing productivity is now essential to a business’s competitiveness. Discover our six practical steps to greater productivity and find out about a new initiative that’s helping to boost productivity in factories.

Connecting machines by building an edge platform

Edge devices are important in the factory of the future because the connection of machines to the internet or the cloud dramatically increases the range of functions and the performance of machines.

The solution: An edge device can take over the activities around the machine. It receives orders from the MES, for example, and controls the machine via an integrated PLC, or it can be linked to the existing control system. By linking the MES and ERP system, edge devices can also enable the commissioning of maintenance and procurement of spare parts.

The result: Productivity is increased by 10 percent. Because edge devices enable data to be captured and processed closer to the source, rather than sending it to servers, the data can be gathered and analyzed on the factory floor in real time. This has enormous benefits in terms of predictive maintenance, improving product quality and increasing throughput.

Implementing a digital twin

A digital twin is a virtual model designed to accurately reflect a physical object. There are various types, and the biggest difference between these is in the area of application. This ranges from a basic component to assets to a complete system or unit. Process twins reveal how systems work together to create an entire production facility.

The solution: Our digital twin solution is a virtual representation or model of physical assets in a real factory. We use harmonized and standardized information models and interfaces (APIs) to create an interoperable environment of interconnected components. It provides a solution set to model and execute production processes. In Industry 4.0 systems, each I4.0 component is represented by a standardized AAS (asset administration shell), which forms an information shell for an asset or hierarchy of assets. So, our digital twin solution offers a ready-to-use implementation of a smart manufacturing platform based on AASs. Once installed, it provides complete transparency and shows how the different components in a production process work together. This enables you to validate concepts and test processes and procedures before implementing them – resulting in fast adoption and integration of applications.

The result: Our digital twin solution makes the integration and commissioning process at least 35 percent faster. Complex simulation, analysis and monitoring of systems can be carried out in real time, and problems can be detected and dealt with before they occur. New products and processes can be tested and perfected virtually first, saving time and effort.

Digital Twin

Resource optimization through targeted energy management

Energy management plays a major role for companies that want to save money. However, it’s important to get reliable, tangible data from the process when making decisions about reducing energy usage.

The solution: One option is to implement an electrical energy management system, which gives you transparency in your energy consumption and enables you to avoid peak loads, shut down plant components or put devices into sleep mode. Reactive power has an additional cost, because unusable reactive power that exceeds the threshold is often charged to the manufacturing company.

The result: Up to a 20 percent reduction in electrical energy costs can be achieved from using our solutions. There are also environmental benefits from the associated reduction in CO₂ emissions. By implementing management systems that help you monitor and reduce energy usage across these areas, considerable cost saving can be made.

Detecting and evaluating faults in processes and plants

Downtime, particularly unplanned downtime, can result in huge revenue losses and disappointed customers, not to mention the inconvenience and man-hours required to fix the problem.

The solution: By connecting and monitoring your machinery in real-time and having the data in a format that’s clear and transparent, production processes can be continually improved, and technical errors can be diagnosed and resolved before they lead to a breakdown. Our ActiveCockpit provides real-time information and enables the exchange of information between people, machines and the production process on the shop floor.

The result: This leads to an improvement in the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) – in some cases of at least 8 percent. By identifying technical errors and malfunctions before they happen, you can minimize downtime and disruption, while also improving the quality of your products and service.

Active cockpit

Automatic order confirmation and recording of delivered components

Global networks are steadily replacing self-contained value chains, as manufacturers try to maximize efficiency throughout the entire production and distribution process by means of seamless data transparency.

The solution: RFID technology enables logistics processes to be sped-up and recording processes to be automated. The state of the art option is a camera-based system that automatically captures the DMC, QR code or barcode, so no scanners are needed. The image is then processed and digitally recorded.

The result: These solutions reduce manual work steps by up to 25 percent, saving time in production and logistics. The process becomes more transparent, with parts being tracked and processes confirmed as they happen. Data and malfunctions can be visualized, even on mobile devices. Supply chain management can be expanded, for example, to include traceability of components, material availability and inventory transparency.

Controlled supply, mixing and process monitoring of liquids

Whether you’re mixing gases or liquids, eliminating irregularities and reducing manual effort are essential to more effective and cost-efficient production.

The solution: Productivity can be maximized with an inline measuring method that determines the volume flow, and a system for measuring the current mixing ratio. Actuators and a smart control unit can be implemented. We provide software solutions and can also install a user interface, so you can view and monitor information.

The result: We’ve found that costs can be cut by up to 12 percent by reducing manual effort and saving resources with these solutions. Manual work steps are reduced and the re-ordering process can be automated. The process becomes more reliable, while more efficient use of raw materials and less waste means lower recycling costs and greater sustainability.

Productivity boosters

The Productivity Boosters

We’re working on an initiative to help boost customers’ productivity. We spoke to Juliane Hess, a member of The Productivity Boosters team, to find out about this European initiative.

Can you tell us about this initiative?

Our Productivity Boosters initiative is a brownfield, shop floor-oriented approach, which addresses the pain points of our manufacturing customers. We combine our smart products with add-ons, services, and, where suitable, partnering. It’s scalable and can be tailored to the customer’s individual needs, type of production and conditions – for example, their existing IT infrastructure.

By bundling our manufacturing and digitalization expertise – on the shop floor and the edge – along with our experienced production and IT specialists, we can harness our customers’ full productivity potential and improve their production figures. It’s this added value approach that makes our offering stand out.

What made you decide to set up this initiative?

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms are beginning to replace MES functions and related applications, including production, maintenance, quality, and inventory management, which are a mix of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT).

Process-oriented digitalization with the right data is essential in today’s factories because digital technology can collect data, identify trends and help make better business decisions. A lot of the data and information that’s collected still isn’t used productively. Professionals who are skilled in control engineering and OT-IT – two areas where there’s currently a shortage of experts – are needed. This is what the Productivity Boosters provide.

What type of business is it suitable for?

Manufacturing companies with heterogeneous production equipment and IT infrastructure or systems, that want to improve productivity and reduce costs.

We’ve already put this method into practice in several projects in Europe. Despite them being across diverse industry sectors, we see clear parallels in the solutions they need, but with different parameters and data. So, we scale the solution according to the customer.

What are the most important findings from your work?

Manufacturers want solutions to solve their production problems. So, increasingly, they’re looking for experienced manufacturing technology partners for the long-term. They want solutions rather than individual components.

We’ve also found that customers go to OEMs and integrators with their requirements for solutions and products. We’re feeding back these requirements to our development departments to improve our products.

Are you working on any partner projects in this area?

We’re working with SAP on a plug and play solution to implement intelligent device onboarding. This will enable machines to be more easily connected to IT via an edge device and interfaced with the IoT maintenance services of SAP. This solution will give customers the health score of a product, energy optimization, predictive maintenance and OEE improvement.

What advice would you give to SMEs that want to improve their productivity, but don’t have big budgets?

Our customers are end customers and SME’s driven by their economic environment that want to make use of new technologies, but without heavy and binding investment. Even the smallest improvements can make all the difference. Together with our customers, we use our analysis to define the main measures to work on – the ones that will bring about the most improvement in productivity.

That’s why we also provide small and cost-effective solutions that suit the prerequisites of the customer. Sometimes it’s advantageous to start small and still think big.

Juliane Hess

Juliane Hess

If you’d like to know more about our solutions that boost productivity, visit your local Bosch Rexroth site or speak to your local Bosch Rexroth support team.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

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Choosing Between M18 and Flatpack Proxes

Guest Contributor: Will Healy III, Balluff

Both M18s and flatpacks are inductive or proximity sensors that are widely used in mechanical engineering and industrial automation applications. Generally, they are similar in that they produce an electromagnetic field that reacts to a metal target when it approaches the sensor head. And the coil in both sensors is roughly the same size, so they have the same sensing range – between 5 to 8 millimeters. They also both work well in harsh environments, such as welding.

There are, however, some specific differences between the M18 and flatpack sensors that are worth consideration when setting up production.

M18

One benefit of the M18 sensor is that it’s adjustable. It has threads around it that allow you to adjust it up or down one millimeter every time you turn it 360 degrees. The M18 can take up a lot of space in a fixture, however. It has a standard length of around two inches long and, when you add a connector, it can be a problem when space is an issue.

Flatpack

A flatpack, on the other hand, has a more compact style and format while offering the same sensing range. The mounting of the flatpack provides a fixed distance so it offers less adjustability of the M18, but its small size delivers flexibility in installation and allows use in much tighter fixes and positions.

The flatpack also comes with a ceramic face and a welding cable, especially suited for harsh and demanding applications. You can also get it with a special glass composite protective face, a stainless-steel face, or a steel face with special coatings on it.

Each housing has its place, based on your detection application, of course. But having them both in your portfolio can expand your ability to solve your applications with sensor specificity.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

5 Manufacturing Trends to Consider in 2022

by Will Healy III, Balluff

Well, it’s that time of year again were we all start to forget the current year (maybe that’s ok) and start thinking of plans for the coming year. Strategy and budget season! 2022 is only a few weeks away! …maybe it’s just me that’s doing planning for the new year already! I thought I’d share 5 insights I’ve had about 2022 that you might benefit from as you start thinking of the new year.

1️⃣ Electric Vehicles. The Electric Vehicles manufacturing market is receiving major investments, machine builders are building up expertise and consumers are trending towards more electric vehicles according to PEW research, 7% of US adults say they currently own a hybrid or electric but 39% say the next time they purchase a vehicle they are at least somewhat likely to seriously consider electric. Traditional automotive won’t go away any time soon, but I see this as a growth generator. (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank…)

2️⃣ Automation in Ag & Food. Automation in the Agriculture, Food, Beverage & Packaging markets is also growing strong with more demand for packaged goods and more SKUs than ever before. Urbanization combined with shortages in agriculture labor markets are driving investments in automation technologies in manufacturing and on the farm. Robotic agriculture startups seem to be growing faster than weeds and are providing real value for those who are struggling to get product from the field to the factory.

3️⃣ Supply Chain Disruption. I’ve seen several economists say the chip shortage will be with us well into 2023 and now I hear rumors of plastics or other materials having disruptions. Disruption might be the new normal for the short to mid-term. I flew out of LAX a few weeks ago and there were dozens of container ships parked outside the port. We are also seeing a major breakdown of our “over-land” logistics infrastructure. Investment in automation and labor for this market will be vital to a strong recovery. Plan for these things and be willing to have open and honest discussions with your vendors and your customers. Untruths might get you by in the short term but could permanently damage your business relationships for years.

4️⃣ Real not Marketing Sustainability. With the increase of Generation Z (18-24year old) workers in our economy, they are pushing us to truly work towards sustainability much more than Millennials did before them. What this means is other markets that I see as growth opportunities are ones where we can have big impact on this like: mining, waste/recycling and agriculture.

5️⃣ Technology as an HR tool. All manufacturers will be impacted by the skills-gap and labor shortage if you aren’t already. Part of your strategy for 2022 must include automation and robotics as part of your labor strategy. How can we use automation and robotics to do our dull, dirty, dangerous jobs or How can we use automation and robotics to extend the careers of our long-term experienced workers? What disruptive technology should you be investing in? 3D printing, machine vision, AR/VR, exoskeletons, drones, virtual twin, AI, Predictive Maintenance, Condition Monitoring, Smart Sensors. Pick something you will do different, you have to. What do you see for 2022 that will have a major impact on our businesses?

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Start Condition Monitoring With Vibration Sensors

by Anjesh Shekhar, Balluff

IIOT (Industrial internet of things) has gained much traction and attraction in past years. With industries getting their assets online for monitoring purposes and new IO-Link sensors providing a ton of information on a single package, monitoring machines has become economically feasible.

Vibration is one of the most critical metrics regarding the health of machines, providing early detection of potential faults – before they cause damage or equipment failure. But since this is a relatively new field and use case, there is not much information about it. Most customers are confused about where to start. They want a baseline to begin monitoring machines and then finetune them to their use case.

“Vibration is one of the most critical metrics regarding the health of machines…”

One approach to solve this is to hire a vibration expert to determine the baseline and the best location to mount the vibration measuring sensor. Proper setup increases the threshold of getting into condition monitoring as a new user figures out the feasibility of such systems.

I direct my customers to this standardized baseline chart from ISO, so they can determine their own baselines and the best mounting positions for their sensors. The table shows the different standards for severity for different machine classes. These standards detail the baseline vibration and show the best place to mount the sensor based on the machine type.

Click here for more information on the benefits of condition monitoring.

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CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

PERFORMANT AS ON DAY ONE: WHY HYDRAULICS MUST BE REPAIRED THE ORIGINAL WAY

Guest Contributor, Bosch Rexroth

Hydraulic drives move high loads and ensure safety-relevant functions. Their failure can result in tremendous downtime costs. It is therefore important to maintain the interaction between material, surface quality and fluid as coordinated by the manufacturer. With spare parts and repairs according to original specifications, operators can secure original performance over a long period of time.

Every year, millions of euros are invested in the development of new hydraulic components. Each new generation of solutions is even more powerful, energy efficient and reliable than the one before. The underlying field of research is called tribology – the science of friction, lubrication and wear.

Ensuring smooth performance

Tribology investigates all frictional processes that occur between two surfaces moving in relation to each other and considers the type of material, surface quality and the lubricant (fluid) as the main influencing variables. If hydraulic components are developed according to tribological principles, important savings can be made both in energy and material consumption and in production and maintenance. How can operators secure the advantages of the latest product generation for as long as possible?

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Figure 1: Material, surface and lubrication: The scientific field of tribology investigates the friction between two bodies and seeks optimal conditions for minimal wear.

Change a perfect system? Better not!

Hydraulic components in which materials, surfaces and fluid are matched to each other in such a way that they achieve optimum efficiency with minimum wear are called a “tribological system”. This perfect interaction stands and falls with maintenance. If only a single parameter is changed, the system loses its balance, i.e. the optimum efficiency is no longer achieved, energy consumption and electricity costs increase and the service life is negatively affected. This happens, for example, if spare parts made of a different material or with a lower surface quality are used, if components are improperly repaired or a fluid is used that does not match the material.

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Figure 2: Fluid-related damage to various components of an axial piston pump.

Play it safe: Spare parts from the manufacturer

To prevent operators from suffering functional losses and damage, Bosch Rexroth subjects the evaluation of fluids to strict requirements that go far beyond the recommended standard. The manufacturer also sets the same high-quality standards for its own spare part production as for the original. Replicas, on the other hand, offer neither the same material composition nor the same surface quality. The consequences are unplanned outages, significantly higher life cycle costs and premature new investments. Choosing original spare part is already worthwhile with the smallest parts. For example, Bosch Rexroth provides completely ready-to-install seal kits in original equipment quality – including parts list and exploded drawing. Thanks to the precise instructions, the average time required for dismantling, cleaning and reassembling a pump is reduced from a good two hours to less than 60 minutes.

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Figure 3: Surface comparison: In contrast to the original from Bosch Rexroth (left), the plagiarism (right) shows large scores. The unfavorable flow conditions decrease efficiency. Leakage and cavitation are increased, especially under high pressure.

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Figure 4: Serious quality differences in material and processing: The plagiarism (right) cannot withstand high pressure and “breaks”. The result: premature wear and tear and damage due to liquid contamination.

Original repair receives manufacturer specification

Repairs that are not commissioned at the manufacturer or certified partners often also result in unforeseen expenses. This is because without access to current data and parts lists, without in-depth know-how and without the right test benches, other suppliers cannot restore the original specification including functional reliability. In the worst case, there is even a risk of liability.

What ultimately distinguishes an original repair from an uncertified one? Here’s an example: When a Bosch Rexroth axial piston pump is inspected and repaired by trained service personnel in a specially equipped, ISO 9001-certified service center, it undergoes qualified testing and repair according to standard guidelines and processes. All failure-critical components are replaced and the original manufacturer’s specification is tested and confirmed on the test bench.

Replacement is better than rework

Non-certified suppliers frequently rework components, thereby destroying the original surface quality of highly stressed components such as pistons with slide shoe, control plates or sliding disks. Control valves on pumps are usually only cleaned and reinstalled. This short-sighted repair practice leads to increased leakage and consequently to a strong vibration tendency. Both accelerate wear, reduce efficiency and shorten the service life. By repairing with original Rexroth spare parts from the manufacturer, however, operators can ensure the original performance and availability for the next few years, including a twelve-month warranty on new parts. In addition, fixed-price repairs and agreed throughput times ensure cost security. This way, operators are protected from surprises and can plan ahead.

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Figure 5: Rework vs. replacement: Leakage oil measurements on a remanufactured pump controller (A4VSO) show significantly higher values than when the original component is replaced: Vibrations, increased wear and early failures can be the result.

Avoiding liability risks

In some countries, improper repairs can also result in liability risks for the operator. In Germany, for example, the manufacturer is not liable under § 1 Sections 2 and 3 ProdHaftG (German Product Liability Act ) for defects that occur after the product has been placed on the market. Instead, the operator is responsible for the consequences of improper repairs. If the operational safety according to the CE mark is no longer given, the insurance company might not pay for damages.

Our conclusion: Sometimes saving money doesn’t pay off – preserve values instead

Those who want to save costs in the short term – by using counterfeit products and non-original repairs – pay extra in the long term. To benefit permanently from the original performance and a long service life, it pays off to include the manufacturer’s expertise in terms of technology, industry and application in maintenance, too. Only with proven manufacturer specifications can the original performance data and resulting function, productivity and efficiency be guaranteed.

Close cooperation with Bosch Rexroth is also worthwhile for other reasons: for example for engineering support, for professional instruction and training of operating and maintenance personnel, or to update the cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency and safety of existing systems. This way, a supplier relationship becomes a profitable partnership for a perfectly smooth operation.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

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