Author: CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne

Why RFID is the VIP of 2019

The “most popular” annual lists don’t usually come out until the end of the year, but I think it is worth mentioning now three applications that have gained substantial momentum this year. With the Smart Factory concept being driven around the globe, RFID has emerged from the shadows and taken its place in the spotlight. The demand for a larger amount of data, more security, and increased visibility into the production process has launched RFID into a leading role when it comes to automation.

Machine Access Control

When considering RFID being utilized for access control, they think about readers located near doorways either outside the building or within the plant. While those readers operate much like the industrial readers, they typically cannot communicate over an industrial communication protocol like Ethernet/IP, Profinet, or IO-Link.  With an industrial access control reader one can limit access to HMIs, PLCs, and various control systems by verifying the user and allowing access to the appropriate controls.  This extra layer of security also ensures operator accountability by identifying the user.

Machine Tool ID

RFID has been used in machining centers for decades. However, it was used mostly in larger scale operations where there were acres of machines and hundreds of tools. Today it’s being used in shops with as few as one machine. The ROI is dependent on the number of tool changes in a shift; not necessarily just the number of machines and the number of tools in the building. The greater the number of tool changes, the greater the risk of data input errors, tool breakage, and even a crash.

Content verification

Since RFID is capable of reading through cardboard and plastic, it is commonly used to verify the contents of a container. Tags are fixed to the critical items in the box, like a battery pack or bag of hardware, and passed through a reader to verify their presence. If, in this case, two tags are not read at the final station then the box can be opened and supplied with the missing part before it ships. This prevents an overload on aftersales support and ensures customers get what they ordered.

While RFID is still widely used to address Work in Process (WIP), asset tracking, and logistics applications, the number of alternative applications involving RFID has skyrocketed due to an increase in demand for actionable data.  Manufacturing organizations around the world have standardized on RFID as a solution in cases where accountability, reliability and quality are critical.

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/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.

Hydraulic Valves Will Benefit From Connectivity

Guest contributor, Jeroen Brands, Bosch Rexroth

Hydraulic valves: Directional valve with integrated digital axis controller

Hydraulic valves: Directional valve with integrated digital axis controller

What are the current market requirements for hydraulic valves?

We are currently experiencing a transition from classic, analogous hydraulics to connectable digital fluid technology. European machine manufacturers in particular are increasingly digitizing their machine designs and expect that hydraulics can be seamlessly embedded into these connected environments. This means that regarding the level of automation, hydraulics are on a par with electromechanical drives. One of the decisive features in this respect is the seamless integration of intelligent hydraulic valves into different automation topologies via open standards such as multiple Ethernet interfaces.

Which new technical possibilities are available to meet these requirements?

Smart single-axis controllers are already remotely regulating hydraulic motions in a closed control loop. In addition, a powerful motion control is integrated into the on-board electronics of the valve. It performs the target-actual comparison on site and regulates accurately to a few micrometers. The control quality of the system is exclusively determined by the resolution of the measurement systems. These motion controls without control cabinet are increasingly used in saw lines, paper mills and machine tools. In addition, there are smart variable speed pump drives and smart pump controls. They provide completely new possibilities of replacing the throttle controls, which were predominantly used up to now, by more energy-efficient displacement controls. In this way, functions which were previously executed by valves are relocated to the software.

What about the integration of sensor technology into hydraulic valves?

The mass production of sensors for the automotive or the consumer products industry has significantly reduced the costs. Now, sensors are increasingly used in hydraulics. In our opinion, the integration of sensor technology of this kind into existing valve housings is the next step. Regarding condition monitoring, sensors could collect information on fluid quality, temperature, vibrations and performed switching cycles. Via deep learning algorithms, users can then detect wear before it causes malfunction.

Which other possibilities of mechanization does a valve provide?

The degree of freedom regarding connection geometries is already limited by standard requirements. The hydraulics industry discussed the topic of digital hydraulics in great depth some time ago. The idea was and is to control flows in a “stepped” or “clocked” way using single- or multi-bit strategies. In certain applications, this can constitute an advantage compared to continuously variable technology.

Which other innovations in hydraulic valves are relevant in your company?

It is no longer a question whether hydraulic valve technology will benefit from connectivity or not. The only question is when. The current discussions around Industry 4.0 clearly show how important it is to define all required functions and functionalities. Only if mechanisms and sensor technology are standardized across different manufacturers will active connectivity and communication be possible. Even in the future, not every hydraulic-mechanical pressure valve will have digital electronics on board or be connected to a control system or other valves. An imprinted QR code with information on the manufacturer’s settings, functional descriptions or information on replacement seals are a first step towards connectivity. In the area of new materials and production technologies, Rexroth has many innovations in the pipeline. 3D printing of cores for cast housings or direct printing considerably lowers energy consumption during the operation of valves. While the divisibility of the core mold had to be taken into account in the design of the core, this is no longer necessary today thanks to core printing. This means that we can use other channel designs which allow for lower pressure losses and improve energy consumption. For a valve with a flow of 10,000 l/min, the reduction of flow resistance by 10 to 20 percent significantly reduces the operating expenses.

Pressure transducer for hydraulic applications

How do these trends affect your products?

With the IAC (integrated axis controller) valves, Bosch Rexroth offers motion control without control cabinet which is completely integrated into valve electronics. It can be fully connected via open interfaces. The same applies to servo-hydraulic axes with their own fluid circuit. In these ready-to-mount axes, pump, valves and cylinders form an assembly to which the machine manufacturer only has to connect power supply and control communication. They use the same commissioning tools and user interfaces which means that all drive technologies provide the same look and feel. Classic servo valves, however, can also be improved further. New plug-in amplifiers with pulse width modulation for on/off valves by Rexroth reduce the surface temperature of the connectors by more than 80 degrees to only 50 degrees. This is particularly interesting for saw lines where easily inflammable sawdust constitutes an explosion hazard.

Outlook: How will valve technology change in the next 10 years?

In 10 years, valves will allow for easier project planning, more comfortable commissioning and more efficient operation and will provide more information before a service case. If service is required, the valve may already have ordered its spare parts.

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/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.

Hydraulics Meets Internet of Things: Avoiding Machine Downtime the Intelligent Way

Guest Contributor: Luisa Franz, Bosch Rexroth

 

IoT-capable hydraulic power unit ensures efficient production

With the newly developed, intelligent CytroBox unit, Rexroth combines the benefits of hydraulics with low energy consumption and software-based functions. The integrated CytroConnect IoT service ensures higher availability and avoids unplanned downtimes. With this IoT service, operators can monitor operating statuses and plan maintenance in a cost-effective manner. As a result, fluid technology has taken a further step towards the factory of the future.

The digitalization of mechanical and plant engineering means more than decentralized intelligence, integrated sensors and connectivity. This applies to hydraulics too. With its power density and immunity to impacts and vibrations, hydraulics plays a central role as an important drive technology in Industry 4.0 too. The compact CytroBox unit is revolutionizing hydraulic pressure supply. CytroBox is a modular hydraulic power unit for the medium performance range from 7.5 kW to 30 kW. It comprises optimally tailored, impressively compact components. Compared to previous units, considerable amounts of space can be saved.

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75% less oil

One of CytroBox’s unique selling points is it compactness. This is possible because the hydraulic power unit can be integrated into a factory like a control cabinet, i.e. upright. The tank no longer supports all other components – Rexroth developed a special supporting structure for this purpose. In addition, a degassing flow-optimized tank is used. On the basis of extensive CFD simulations, the developers improved the tank geometry so skillfully that the new unit needs only a quarter of the oil required by classic designs: instead of 600 liters, 150 liters are now enough – with at least the same service life. The drive unit – a component which usually takes up a large amount of space in hydraulic power units – is equally compact. The asynchronous servo motor has been replaced by a synchronous servo motor. This is the most efficient motor design, producing the same torque even though it is 80 to 90% smaller. The manifold too was redesigned: thanks to 3D printed sand cores, the block including the internal flow geometry is now cast. As a result of this flow-optimized inner structure, less material and space are required. Thanks to all these measures, the CytroBox has a footprint of just 0.5 square meters instead of one and a half to two square meters. This represents a saving of up to 75%. On top of this, there are energy savings of up to 80% as well as a 10 dB(A) reduction in noise emissions. As a result, noise emissions are lower than 75 dB(A).

Connected for the factory of the future

In the CytroBox, machine manufacturers will find a ready-configured drive controller with numerous integrated functions. Various sensors provide information on the current filter, oil or drive status. The collected sensor data are bundled via IO-LinkMaster and pre-processed by the drive controller so that they can be integrated flexibly into modern machine designs. This means that the CytroBox is IoT-ready.

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CytroConnect Monitor

With the CytroConnect digital service, operators have all information regarding the CytroBox at their fingertips at all times – whether it be information regarding the standardized visualization of the component and operating status or chargeable IoT services such as forthcoming maintenance work and predictive maintenance analyses using Rexroth’s Online Diagnostics Network (ODiN).

The data collected are transferred to the browser-based CytroConnect Monitor web dashboard via Multi-Ethernet or 4G-LTE. As a result, operators can be kept up to date regarding the current operating status and key status indicators on any end device (tablet, smartphone, PC). This plug and play service is free of charge and can be used without additional installation work. CytroConnect is implemented in the CytroBox as standard.

Greater availability thanks to additional analysis functions

In addition to the CytroBox’s automatic status monitoring, maintenance personnel and maintenance managers can add extra solutions for various applications as add-ons. These pay-per-use payment models include additional IoT analysis tools and can be subscribed to on a monthly basis.

For optimizing maintenance processes, the CytroConnect Maintain module offers access to historical sensor data as well as messages if maintenance is required or in the event of critical operating statuses. Pre-defined and custom rules allow customers to improve their maintenance strategy on an ongoing basis. Customers benefit from scalable software solutions from the Bosch IoT portfolio such as the Nexeed Production Performance Manager and the integrated know-how of the Rexroth domain specialists. The Nexeed Production Performance Manager is a condition monitoring software solution for systematic production optimization.

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CytroConnect Maintain

With CytroConnect Maintain, data concerning the most important components for reliability and operating life (the hydraulic oil and the drive unit) are assessed. Comprehensive insights into the correlation between the speed of the servo motor and the flow allow the monitoring of system leakage, while correlations between motor data and the operating pressure allow conclusions regarding drive behavior. The leakage sensor, temperature and level sensor, particle sensor, water sensor and oxygen sensor are additional data sources which can be used to make a status diagnosis.

Planning predictive maintenance efficiently

A further add-on, CytroConnect Predict, uses the machine learning algorithms of the Rexroth Online Diagnostics Network (ODiN) for a predictive analysis of the system. With this IoT service, the power curves for a wide range of components are recorded for data analysis purposes. In the event of deviations, the system automatically calculates the expected remaining operating life of the relevant component and informs the operator immediately via a push message. As a result, predictive maintenance application cases can be taken into account predictively in the operator’s maintenance plans, thus ensuring maximum availability.

Conclusion

This new form of hydraulics is energy-efficient, quiet, space-saving and intelligent. With the integrated CytroConnect IoT service, the CytroBox offers anything from transparent, efficient machine monitoring to intelligent predictive maintenance measures. Thanks to the CytroBox, fluid technology is now one step closer to the factory of the future.

www.cytroconnect.com

www.boschrexroth.com/cytro

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/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.

TIME IS MONEY: ENGINEERING FOR LARGE POWER UNITS REDUCED TO FIVE DAYS

Time and cost savings through standardization and proven designs

Faster, simpler, more productive and cost-effective: Rexroth’s new modular system called ABMAXX speeds up the engineering and commissioning of large hydraulic power units in projects designed to modernize existing systems or construct new ones. The hydraulics specialists are able to create a quote complete with a hydraulic circuit diagram, a parts list, a 3D model and dimensions all within a maximum of five working days. As such, system manufacturers and end users can reduce engineering lead times alone by 80 %. The pre-configured ABMAXX modules are composed of highly available standard components. The modular approach reduces costs by up to 35 % and increases operational availability.

When constructing new or modernizing existing steelworks and rolling mills, large-scale presses and test systems or the central media supply of factories, hydraulics is and will continue to be the key drive technology both now and in the future on account of its high power density, robustness and durability. Thanks to the wide range of components available, there is plenty of scope for designing tailored solutions. In the past, system manufacturers and major end users defined their own standards which they implemented with their own resources in development. In light of ever increasing cost pressure and a global shortage of qualified specialists, these days they are increasingly scrutinizing that approach. Their main goal is to achieve pressure and quantity as cost-effectively as possible.

This is where Bosch Rexroth’s modular system ABMAXX comes in. The company is the first hydraulics manufacturer to come up with a modular solution with which system manufacturers and end users can significantly reduce the complexity of engineering large power units for 24/7 operations. On the one hand, it enables them to take advantage of all the economic benefits of cross-manufacturer standardization yet, on the other hand, the modular design provides ample opportunity for coming up with application-specific solutions.

Three pressure ratings and five modules

The concept initially covers tank sizes ranging from 2,000 to 12,500 l. With its three pressure ratings, namely 160, 210 and 315 bar, the concept satisfies the trend for higher operating pressures, thus ensuring it will be fit for the future. Achievable flows currently range from 345 l/min to 2,160 l/min. These basic conditions meet the typical requirements of numerous large plants.

In order to transform the benefits of standardization into shorter project lead times, Rexroth has defined five modules: tank, pump block, circulation unit, cooling and filter unit, and safety controls. Each module is based on proven constructions with a tried-and-tested design. As such, Rexroth is able to considerably reduce the risk of initial errors in the construction.

Simplify the design – Up to 80 % time savings in engineering: Offer in a maximum of five working days

The benefits of standardization and modularization are clear to see at the project planning phase. These days, depending on the level of complexity involved, planning customized individual power units in line with relevant company standards can take four to eight weeks. Rexroth is able to whittle this phase down to a maximum of five working days with its modular system ABMAXX. Rexroth is able to provide 3D models complete with dimensions and parts lists as well as the hydraulic circuit diagram and a quote all based on the customer’s specifications within just one week. This shortens the engineering effort by up to 80 %. This enables designers to save valuable time, which they can use on their projects, and enables system manufacturers to shorten the quote phase.

Streamline the installation – Up to 35 % lower costs through standardization

In comparison to using completely newly designed large power units each time, system manufacturers and end users achieve between up to 35 % direct cost savings on account of modularization and standardization. Internal costs are also reduced thanks to shorter project lead times and shorter time to market for system manufacturers. End users can also use individual ABMAXX modules such as the pump block in order to modernize their systems step by step and improve energy efficiency, for example. The wide range of Sytronix variable-speed pump drives is also able to unlock considerable potential here for reducing power consumption based on demand. Tried-and-tested safety controls help designers to comply with corresponding safety regulations and documentation requirements in line with standards. The choice of standard components also reduces delivery times and cuts costs.

Through its global production network, Rexroth also ensures high local added value and a quick response to customer requirements. Competence centers for power units construction in Europe, Asia and the Americas cover all major regions with short distances.

Maximize the productivity – Latest technology for maximum efficiency

At ABMAXX, Rexroth uses latest technology for all components and the hydraulic design. The components set standards in terms of dynamics and life time. Proven design principles increase productivity through high repeat accuracy and energy efficiency. The wide range of variable-speed pump drives in the Sytronix family opens up considerable potential for reducing energy consumption as required. This reduces life cycle costs sustainably.

With the three pressure stages up to 315 bar, the concept meets the current state of the art, but already reflects the trend towards higher working pressures.

Minimize the downtime – User and maintenance friendliness increases availability

The modules have been designed so as to ensure optimum component accessibility. What’s more, standardization reduces the required maintenance and servicing over the entire life cycle as the standard components used are available at short notice and will be part of the product range over the long term. The modules are composed of highly available Rexroth standard components. They are designed to deal with harsh environmental conditions including humidity, heat, dust, contamination and vibration.

The components are designed to work equally well with mineral oil as with water-based media such as (HFC) and synthetic water-free fluids (HFD). As such, Rexroth’s axial piston pumps achieve the same service life regardless of the media involved.

The pump block and the circulation unit are fundamentally equipped with stand-by units in order to guarantee maximum availability.  The pump block and the circulation unit are always equipped with stand-by units for uninterrupted 24/7 operation.

First power units already in use

Bosch Rexroth has already made several ABMAXX as complete power units and individual modules for modernization projects. System manufacturers for metallurgical plants and operators of steelworks and rolling mills are among the first users. However, potential applications exist across all sectors of industry as well as in large-scale projects.

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/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.

Using Photoelectric Sensors in High Ambient Temperatures

Photoelectric sensors with laser and red-light are widely used in all areas of industrial automation. A clean, dust-free and dry environment is usually essential for the proper operation of photoeyes, however, they can be the best choice in many dirty and harsh applications. Examples of this are raw steel production in steel mills and further metallurgical processes down to casting and hot-rolling.

Cutting of billets at casting – Photo: M.Münzl
Cutting of billets at casting – Photo: M.Münzl

Photoelectric sensors are especially useful in these environments thanks to their long sensing distance and their ability to detect objects independent of their material.

Most photoelectric sensors are approved to work in ambient temperatures of 55 to 60 °C. The maximum temperature range of these sensors is most often limited by the specifications of the optical components of the sensor, like the laser-diodes, but by taking certain precautions photoelectric sensors can provide optimal use in much hotter applications.

Maximize the distance
In steel production many parts of the process are accompanied by high ambient temperatures. Liquid steel and iron have temperatures from 1400 to 1536 °C. Material temperature during continuous casting and hot-rolling are lower but still between 650 and 1250°C.

The impact of heat emission on the sensors can be reduced significantly by placing the sensor as far from the target object as possible, something you can’t do with inductive sensors which have a short range. Very often the remote mounting will allow the sensor to operate at room temperature.

If you intend to detect quite small objects with high precision, the maximum distance for the installation might be limited. For this purpose chemical resistant glass fibers are suitable and can handle temperatures up to 250 °C. These pre-fabricated fiber optic assemblies can be easily attached to the sensor. The sensor itself can be mounted on a cooler and protected place.

Detect Glowing Metals
If you want to reliably detect red-hot or white glowing steel parts with temperatures beyond 700 °C, you won’t be able to use standard laser or red-light sensors. Red-hot steel emits light at the same wavelength that it is used by photoelectric sensors. This can interfere with the function of the sensor. In such applications you need to use sensors which operate based on infrared light.

Add Protection

Sensor enclosure and protective cable sleeve
Sensor enclosure and protective cable sleeve

At many locations in the steel production process, the extensive heat is only temporary. In a hot rolling mill, a slab runs through a rougher mill multiple times before it continues to a multi-stage finishing mill stand to be rolled to the final thickness. After that the metal strip runs into the coiler to be winded up.
This process runs in sequence, and the glowing material is only present at each stage of production for a short time. Until a new slab runs out of the reheating furnace, temperatures normalize.

Standard sensors can work in these conditions, but you do run the risk of even temporary temperature hikes causing sensor failure and then dreaded downtime. To protect photoelectric sensors against temporary overheating, you can use a protective enclosure. These can provide mechanical and thermal protection to the sensors which often have plastic bodies. Additional protection can be achieved when a heat resistant sleeve is used around the cable.

Photoelectric sensors do have their limits and are not suitable for all applications, even when precautions are taken. Ask yourself these questions when deciding if they can be the right solution for your high temperature applications.

  • Which distance between the hot object and sensor can be realized?
  • What is the maximum temperature at this location?
  • How long will the sensor be exposed to the highest heat levels during normal operation and at breakdown?

How to Select the Best Lighting Techniques for Your Machine Vision Application

Guest contributor,  Dan Simmons, Balluff

The key to deploying a robust machine vision application in a factory automation setting is ensuring that you create the necessary environment for a stable image.  The three areas you must focus on to ensure image stability are: lighting, lensing and material handling.  For this blog, I will focus on the seven main lighting techniques that are used in machine vision applications.

On-Axis Ring Lighting

On-axis ring lighting is the most common type of lighting because in many cases it is integrated on the camera and available as one part number. When using this type of lighting you almost always want to be a few degrees off perpendicular (Image 1A).  If you are perpendicular to the object you will get hot spots in the image (Image 1B), which is not desirable. When the camera with its ring light is tilted slightly off perpendicular you achieve the desired image (Image 1C).

Off-Axes Bright Field Lighting

Off-axes bright field lighting works by having a separate LED source mounted at about 15 degrees off perpendicular and having the camera mounted perpendicular to the surface (Image 2A). This lighting technique works best on mostly flat surfaces. The main surface or field will be bright, and the holes or indentations will be dark (Image 2B).

Dark Field Lighting

Dark field lighting is required to be very close to the part, usually within an inch. The mounting angle of the dark field LEDs needs to be at least 45 degrees or more to create the desired effect (Image 3A).  In short, it has the opposite effect of Bright Field lighting, meaning the surface or field is dark and the indentations or bumps will be much brighter (Image 3B).

Back Lighting

Back lighting works by having the camera pointed directly at the back light in a perpendicular mount.  The object you are inspecting is positioned in between the camera and the back light (Image 4A).  This lighting technique is the most robust that you can use because it creates a black target on a white background (Image 4B).

Diffused Dome Lighting

Diffused dome lighting, aka the salad bowl light, works by having a hole at the top of the salad bowl where the camera is mounted and the LEDs are mounted down at the rim of the salad bowl, pointing straight up which causes the light to reflect off of the curved surface of the salad bowl and it creates very uniform reflection (Image 5A).  Diffused dome lighting is used when the object you are inspecting is curved or non-uniform (Image 5B). After applying this lighting technique to an uneven surface or texture, hotspots and other sharp details are deemphasized, and it creates a sort of matte finish to the image (Image 5C).

Diffused On-Axis Lighting

Diffused on-axis lighting, or DOAL, works by having a LED light source pointed at a beam splitter and the reflected light is then parallel with the direction that the camera is mounted (Image 6A).  DOAL lighting should only be used on flat surfaces where you are trying to diminish very shiny parts of the surface to create a uniformed image.  Applications like DVD, CD, or silicon wafer inspection are some of the most common uses for this type of lighting.

6A
Image 6A

 

Structured Laser Line Lighting

Structured laser line lighting works by projecting a laser line onto a three-dimensional object (Image 7A), resulting in an image that gives you information on the height of the object.  Depending on the mounting angle of the camera and laser line transmitter, the resulting laser line shift will be larger or smaller as you change the angle of the devices (Image 7B).  When there is no object the laser line will be flat (Image 7C).

Real Life Applications 

The images below, (Image 8A) and (Image 8B) were used for an application that requires the pins of a connector to be counted. As you can see, the bright field lighting on the left does not produce a clear image but the dark field lighting on the right does.

This next example (Image 9A) and (Image 9B) was for an application that requires a bar code to be read through a cellophane wrapper.  The unclear image (Image 9A) was acquired by using an on-axis ring light, while the use of dome lighting (Image 9B) resulted in a clear, easy-to-read image of the bar code.

This example (Image 10A), (Image 10B) and (Image 10C) highlights different lighting techniques on the same object. In the (Image 10A) image, backlighting is being used to measure the smaller hole diameter.  In image (Image 10B) dome lighting is being used for inspecting the taper of the upper hole in reference to the lower hole.  In (Image 10C) dark field lighting is being used to do optical character recognition “OCR” on the object.  Each of these could be viewed as a positive or negative depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

 

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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.

Boost Connectivity with Non-Contact Couplings

Guest contributor, Shishir Rege, Balluff

In press shops or stamping plants, downtime can easily cost thousands of dollars in productivity. This is especially true in the progressive stamping process where the cost of downtime is a lot higher as the entire automated stamping line is brought to a halt.

BIC presse detail 231013

Many strides have been made in modern stamping plants over the years to improve productivity and reduce the downtime. This has been led by implementing lean philosophies and adding error proofing systems to the processes. In-die-sensing is a great example, where a few inductive or photo-eye sensors are added to the die or mold to ensure parts are seated well and that the right die is in the right place and in the right press. In-die sensing almost eliminated common mistakes that caused die or mold damages or press damages by stamping on multiple parts or wrong parts.

In almost all of these cases, when the die or mold is replaced, the operator must connect the on-board sensors, typically with a multi-pin Harting connector or something similar to have the quick-connect ability. Unfortunately, often when the die or mold is pulled out of the press, operators forget to disconnect the connector. The shear force excreted by the movement of removing the die rips off the connector housing. This leads to an unplanned downtime and could take roughly 3-5 hours to get back to running the system.

image

Another challenge with the multi-conductor connectors is that over-time, due to repeated changeouts, the pins in the connectors may break causing intermittent false trips or wrong die identification. This can lead to serious damages to the system.

Both challenges can be solved easily with the use of a non-contact coupling solution. The non-contact coupling, also known as an inductive coupling solution, is where one side of the connectors called “Base” and the other side called “Remote” exchange power and signals across an air-gap. The technology has been around for a long time and has been applied in the industrial automation space for more than a decade primarily in tool changing applications or indexing tables as a replacement for slip-rings. For more information on inductive coupling here are a few blogs (1) Inductive Coupling – Simple Concept for Complex Automation Part 1,  (2) Inductive Coupling – Simple Concept for Complex Automation Part 2

For press automation, the “Base” side can be affixed to the press and the “Remote” side can be mounted on a die or mold, in such a way that when the die is placed properly, the two sides of the coupler can be in the close proximity to each other (within 2-5mm). This solution can power the sensors in the die and can help transfer up to 12 signals. Or, with IO-Link based inductive coupling, more flexibility and smarts can be added to the die. We will discuss IO-Link based inductive coupling for press automation in an upcoming blog.

Some advantages of inductive coupling over the connectorized solution:

  • Since there are no pins or mechanical parts, inductive coupling is a practically maintenance-free solution
  • Additional LEDs on the couplers to indicate in-zone and power status help with quick troubleshooting, compared to figuring out which pins are bad or what is wrong with the sensors.
  • Inductive couplers are typically IP67 rated, so water ingress, dust, oil, or any other environmental factor does not affect the function of the couplers
  • Alignment of the couplers does not have to be perfect if the base and remote are in close proximity. If the press area experiences drastic changes in humidity or temperature, that would not affect the couplers.
  • There are multiple form factors to fit the need of the application.

In short, press automation can gain a productivity boost, by simply changing out the connectors to non-contact ones.

 

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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.