Nine benefits of using Made in America automation products for end users

Buying products from manufacturers that operate in America offer several benefits to end users. See nine ways end users can benefit.

By Shalli Kumar June 24, 2024

1. Stable predictable prices without tariff uncertainty: America is waking up to the threats that Made in China poses. One way to respond was the 2018 import tariffs of 25% or more. However, the tariffs applied only to raw components imported from China rather than the finished products such as human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Recently, additional tariffs were imposed and they seem likely to increase over time. This makes the prices of Made in China unpredictable. Made in America automation products offer stable prices and offer significant benefits to American Automation engineers, now and in the future.

Example: EZAutomation has stable and tariff-free prices, that are Made in America products and cost less than Made in China. One comparison of HMIs show cost advantages to Made in China products.

2. Stable and faster delivery with supply chain issues minimized: In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic created supply chain disruption that expanded lead time for automation products from China to as many as 26 weeks. Transportation costs quadrupled. America had difficult time getting the most basic necessities like penicillin.

Example: Whereas EZAutomation was also impacted as some of its components come from China, yet the overall lead times were far better than products from China. EZAutomation promises Same day FREE shipping for orders placed till 6 p.m. CST (4 p.m. PST) for most of its products.

3. Better products and services resulting from shorter end user proximity: We design and manufacture in Iowa and Illinois and use the products we manufacturer.

Example: AVG Automation has over 500 man years of plant experience and that shows in our products. The same is not possible for products made in mass volumes in China at low cost. EZAutomation products incorporate attention to detail resulting from this vast plant experience, resulting in consistently decreasing down time in EZAutomation plants. It is this driving force that results in:

a. Patented on-line edit as a common and exclusive HMI feature.

b. miniWifi that allows programs to be edited from 50 feet away without a programming cable.

c. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) utility to be able to update user programs over email without any programming software.

d. Plug-in PLC input/output (I/O) modules.

e. Removable plug-in terminal blocks for PLC-I/O wiring.

f. LED indicator lights for all digital I/O connections.

g. Remote HMI/PLC monitoring over smart phones and internet.

h. Self-Learn EZ Programming software so simple that even a CEO can do it in minutes.

i. Practically 24/7 local tech/application support around the clock.

4. Products that reflect American Innovation: America became a great industrial power on the back of its innovation that runs through the blood of so many Americans. Manufacturers sitting thousands of miles away can copy American products, but U.S. innovation remains respected the world over. Examples include:

a. Detachable EZ7 HMI to reduce downtime dramatically: Plant, maintenance and control engineers know the weakest component in an HMI is the touchscreen and display as these are subject to a lot more wear and tear as compared to the rest of the logic and communication electronics. In solving this problem to minimize down time due to a failed touchscreen, EZAutomation divides the HMI into two parts, front panel with touchscreen and display and the back panel with logic and communication. If the touchscreen or display needs to be replaced, all it takes is 2 minutes to unscrew the damaged front panel and replace it with a new one. No rewiring, no downloading HMI programming, no HMI set-up and no extra efforts are needed to get the HMI running again.

b. All EZTouch HMIs have a patented on-line edit feature. On average, a new HMI installation requires 5 edits to its screen design in the first three months of its use. EZAutomation by AVG is the only company that allows on-line edit without shutting down or disconnecting the HMI. This saves the end-user thousands of dollars in down time.

c. EZ Power Supply with LED display: When EZAutomation decided to enter the dc power supply market, it wanted to do something different and innovative. Result was EZPPS up to 240 W, with two LED displays. One 3-digit voltage adjustable voltage display, and the second, a two-digit load current display. In addition, it has a maintenance timer and current monitor output that turns on if it exceeds a programmed current limit. This is a power supply, everybody falls in love with.

d. EZ Production Monitor to improve plant productivity by 50%: EZAutomation’s latest product introduction is a Production Monitor that has a two-line 10 character each, LED tricolor display that monitors actual production and quality as compared to goals set for a shift. It communicates this information to a computer over wifi up to 50 ft. away. User interface is extremely simple: enter shift hours and goal per hour, acceptable reject level and let the EZPM do the rest. It is bound to pay for itself within a month. In addition, it has data logging to review past history.

e. Innovating the EZMarquee: All LEDs lose brightness as they age, making an LED message display to lose characters in the middle of the display. EZMarquee is manufactured with pre-measured luminous intensity so that the loss of brightness is uniform and the message display looks like it is fresh out of box even 10 years after the installation. In addition, the EZMarquees weigh one third and consume one-third the power of all competitors and cost one-third, as well.

f. Innovating EZiMarquee: Whereas EZmarquees communicate to more than 95% of PLCs in the market, EZAutomation came up with the concept of having the smarts of an HMI in the marquee that allows connection to any PLC network requiring no change in PLC programming. It simply monitors all the PLC tags on the network and displays all relevant messages.

g. EZminiWifi: All our HMI based products have the option of turning their RS232 serial port into a miniWifi port. Many times the HMI location is not that easy to access. EZ miniWifi allows the controls engineer to edit the HMI/PLC program from 50 feet away without the need to plug a programming cable into the HMI. In addition, the EZ miniWifi is secure as it is a point-to-point communication channel.

h. Modular TouchPLC concept that is an all-in-one HMI and PLC that can be programmed with one software, that saves one third of panel space and one third of cost. There are 33 I/O modules that can be plugged in for an extremely flexible control system design.

i. Tiny High power HC plug-in I/O module that can handle huge in-rush currents while retaining its small size of 2 inches x2 inches x 1 inch. All dc solenoids or fans have a huge in-rush current. For example a 24 Vdc 250 ma solenoid can have an inrush current of 1.6 Amps. Normally, the control system designer is forced to use external Relay modules to achieve the in-rush current which takes away their short circuit protection feature. The HC High current dc output module for our PLCs is capable of handling 4 amp in-rush current per module and 1 amp of steady state current for each of eight outputs, while retaining its short circuit protection feature.

j. EZminiTouchPLC is an engineering marvel that puts incredible processing power in every cubic inch of this product. 4” unit, 12 DI, 8 DC 500 ma short circuit proof outputs, 2 12 bit AIN and 2 12 bit AIO, 4 1formC 5 A relays with built in snubber networks, 250 KHz encoder, serial port, Ethernet, LED indicators for all I/O, plug-in removable terminal blocks, all packed into a 5.06 x 4.08 x 1.5” enclosure.

5. Local American FREE Technical/Application Support, practically 24/7: Made in America Automation products from EZAutomation have another side benefit. Besides 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST, it has phone, text and email support for technical and application questions. And it is free.

6. Local warranty and non-warranty repairs: EZAutomation Made in America products are repaired in Bettendorf, Iowa. Repairs are faster and the analysis of a failure is faster as compared to sending the product back to China for failure analysis. EZAutomation has a strict 8 Discipline QS9000 policy to get to the root cause of any product failure within warranty period in a rapid-fire succession that allows its manufacturing lines to have a constant process improvement with local support.

7. Minimal product obsolescence: Another not-so-apparent benefit of Made in America is minimal product obsolescence. EZAutomation/AVG still supports products introduced in 1968.

8. EZAutomation product customizer: Having all its design and manufacturing operations in Bettendorf, Iowa, EZAutomation has very quick response to product customization. If the products are manufactured in volume in China, if you want a change, particularly in hardware, it can take several years if the manufacturer will entertain the idea of a customer-requested change. EZAutomation has designed and manufactured a significant number of customized products, such as specialty I/O modules, even when the need is just 1000 per year, and it has done these within 3 months from concept/order to pilot production. This is a benefit of Made in America.

9. Supporting American jobs and national interests: Other significant benefits of Made in America are supporting American economy, American dollar, American standard of living, American jobs and American national security interests. See related content on the other advantages of Made in America linked below.

Note: 85% of all automation products are Made in China and includes products from major automation suppliers from the U.S., Europe and Japan.

Many American automation engineers are misled by automation companies with major product lines distributed from U.S. warehouses but originate in China.

Author Bio: Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar, founder and chairman, EZAutomation