Automation & Machine Controls
The industrial world continues to change with new concepts and technology. Along with that comes not only the need to support, but also design, build and implement safe and efficient systems. Our automation and controls division offers design and build solutions for all commercial and industrial applications.
Control panels are one of the most critical components in any system. Poor design, lack of maintenance, and other environmental issues can lead to equipment downtime and also safety concerns.
- Our panel designs are engineered to allow for future expansion. This makes future equipment additions or modifications which are very common in any manufacturing environment much easier and with less cost.
- All panel construction and or panel modifications are done in a very detailed manner to provide a clean and neat appearance to include all required labeling and marking.
- All panel designs are NFPA, UL, and IEEE compliant.
- Detailed drawings are provided for all new panel builds and also for changes made to existing panels. Drawings are delivered in PDF format for easier viewing and filing. CAD files can also be provided upon request.
- Power Quality considerations are implemented in all design, build and modifications. Surge protection, power filtering, power conditioning, and shielded and isolated power supplies are among many of the design features.
- Panel and system components have also become more of a concern in recent years. As there are several companies who manufacture similar components, considerations should be made prior to purchase such as compatibility with existing equipment, lead time for replacement, and interchangeability with other components. Our designs include top manufacturers such as Allen Bradley, Direct Logic, SOLA, Banner, Turck, Omron, Keyence, MTL, and other leading manufacturers. Our design group can work with you before any purchases are made to ensure that required components are common with your existing systems or establish a common spares listing for future reference.
- All systems are delivered with a complete bill of material to include manufacturer, part number and all other critical information for future reference.
- UPS systems can also be integrated into any new or existing system. What that can do is minimize downtime in uncontrolled situations such as severe weather or interruptions from the utility supply company. This can also aid in safer equipment operations. There have been cases reported where momentary power interruptions have led to equipment malfunction causing damage to equipment and in some cases injury to personnel. Some are legitimate equipment failures while others are unfortunately the result of improper design or installation or combination of both and sometimes those mistakes go unknown until a situation occurs. Typically that situation is seen in the method of programming logic. Bits that are “latched” in and bits that are “sealed” in are critical to component operation during a power cycle. This is a common oversight in PLC programming as the logic will essentially work under normal conditions, but depending on the equipment layout severe conditions can result from a momentary power outage. A common example would be tooling clamps and proximity sensors. A reset condition in the logic can allow for clamps to cycle releasing components. A part present sensor on a conveyor system resetting could allow for the conveyor to advance unexpectedly. The most critical would be safety circuits. Light curtains or area sensors resetting allowing equipment movement can be dangerous and even fatal to machine operators.
Our Controls & Automation offers you the following services:
- Design‐Build – Complete design build solutions for controls and automation systems ranging from new systems to refurbish and upgrade of existing systems.
- Control Panel – Custom build to repair and upgrade of existing panels to comply with the latest NFPA and UL Standards.
- Continuous Improvement – Equipment cycle time improvements, ergonomic improvements for operating personnel, troubleshooting and electrical safety training for support personnel.
- Controls – Allen Bradley and Direct Logic applications for various types of equipment operations ranging from production equipment to building and facility equipment.
- Drive Applications – Allen Bradley, Baldor, and Control Techniques.
- Vision Systems – Keyence, Banner, Cognex, and IFM Electronics.
- Energy Management – Power distribution, power quality, code and safety inspections to include required and recommended changes.
- Robotics – Material handling solutions to welding applications. Fanuc, Motoman, and ABB.
- Onsite Support – Our Electricians and Controls Engineers can provide 24 hour onsite support for all applications.
- OSHA / NFPA 70E – Property and equipment damage, injuries and on some occasion’s fatalities have and continue to occur due to unsafe electrical work. OSHA is now issuing citations to companies who do not comply with the current requirements. Our group along with additional engineering services can provide a detailed Arc Flash Analysis to include training for personnel.
The world of robotics has seen enormous growth in recent years, ranging from material handling to welding applications. Costs of integration verses costs of additional equipment and manpower has motivated many industrial companies to add robotic applications to their process to keep up with supply and demand. With that comes great advantage over manual operations, but also disadvantage in poor design or improper application. Robotic components, like any other electronic, electrical / mechanical device, can be very expensive to repair or replace. Also, the integration of a robotic application opens up several OSHA and ANSI protocol requirements. Improper equipment set up can pose serious safety risks.
Advantages verses Disadvantages
- Repetitive Motion – Companies suffer financial issues from medical claims and lawsuits related to worker injury. Manual operations along with repetitive motion pose serious risks to workers. Robotic applications are designed to essentially do just that but also much faster and more efficiently.
- Supervised Operation – Robotic applications can be designed to run essentially unsupervised. Preload and automated unload designs allow for long term operation without human interface.
- Uptime verses Downtime – Robotic downtime can be very expensive, but if proper maintenance and upkeep are preformed the time is normally minimal. Robots do sometimes break, but there have been no reported cases of missed work for whatever reasons.
Considerations for Industrial Robotics
Careful considerations have to be made when considering the purchase of a robotic application. A lot of integrators use the plug and play terminology to sell a product. In most cases that philosophy works fine, but in others it does not and more often than not the smaller operations and less experienced end users are the ones who more or less get stuck with an inadequate system.
- Feasibility studies have to be properly completed to ensure that the selection fits the process. Payback for capital investment is the first and probably the most critical step in designing a system.
- Time studies also have to be completed to ensure that the system is being properly designed. The cost of adding a second robot or additional equipment after operation has started and concluded that cycle time is not being achieved would be a good example and common and very costly mistake.
- Equipment specifications are also very important. The purchase of a robotic application could be viewed like the purchase of an automobile. Additional options, and other beneficial features are nice to have, but are they really necessary. Costs, efficiency, and other more practical issues are more of a concern and if not properly addressed can lead to unnecessary additional costs.
- Design is very critical. Improper application can void manufacturer warranty, lead to extreme downtime and also create safety issues to personnel. The OSHA and ANSI standards have dramatically increased over recent years. With the addition of automated systems also comes the opportunity for accidents and injury. Proper system design has to be carefully integrated and proper training for personnel has to be strictly enforced.
Machine Controls at Eden Foods
Eden Foods in Clinton, Michigan had their entire food processing system installed by Brint Electric.