Optimize automation design for serviceability

Machine builders specializing in factory automation and assembly systems are challenged at every turn. Capital equipment investment is high, material and labor costs are increasing, competition is growing fiercer and customers are demanding faster delivery. It’s not surprising that machine manufacturers are constantly seeking ways to contain costs and increase efficiency, while maintainin...

03/01/2010


 

 

Machine builders specializing in factory automation and assembly systems are challenged at every turn. Capital equipment investment is high, material and labor costs are increasing, competition is growing fiercer and customers are demanding faster delivery.

 

It’s not surprising that machine manufacturers are constantly seeking ways to contain costs and increase efficiency, while maintaining strict quality and performance standards. One approach that has worked for many automation industry leaders is adoption of a design engineering strategy that standardizes on configurable machine parts, wherever possible, in order to replace unique custom-designed components with more modular and readily accessible ones.

 

For machine builders, this strategy has proven effective in helping reduce engineering and production time and costs %%MDASSML%% often as much as 50%. However, what many have also learned is that specifying modular, configured parts rather than custom parts has also helped their customers by making it easier to maintain and repair equipment.

 

Faster access to configured parts allows end users to eliminate the time, expense and hassles associated with ordering custom-designed parts. They can also reduce the need for substantial replacement parts inventory.

 

The importance of serviceability

Like automation system producers, plant operations and control engineers also face challenges. Their role is to keep mission-critical operations up and running smoothly, safeguard worker safety and see that quality standards are met. To do this, they need to ensure that machines are monitored and equipment is maintained and serviced properly. They need to ensure that replacement parts are readily accessible when required. In their world, unscheduled downtime caused by equipment failure is simply not an option.

 

In any machine, many mechanical parts are subject to wear and tear and must be maintained, and repaired or replaced. High stress parts need to be replaced more frequently so they don’t malfunction and cause production problems. In fast-moving plant automation lines, machine wear is caused by physical forces such as load, torque, friction, impact shock, heat, vibration, length and frequency of motion as well as humidity and any other atmospheric factors %%MDASSML%% all of which can have a negative impact on the performance and reliability of the machinery over time.

 

Modular, configurable parts can help

The concept of standardization is simple, yet effective. Some commonly used configurable parts include linear shafts, actuators, linear guides, ball screws, bushings, locating pins, metal plates, extrusions and conveyor rollers.

 

Machine builders can specify the parts in various sizes, material hardness and coatings and sometimes can order specific tooling modifications. Once a part has been configured and the model downloaded, it can be added to that machine’s bill of materials. Some part suppliers will even standardize the part within its product database, assigning it a unique part number for fast and easy replacement ordering.

 

Adding value

The benefits that automation system end users can derive when their equipment manufacturers specify configurable parts include:

 

  • Fast, easy ordering of replacement parts with short lead times mitigates the need to maintain safety inventories of replacement parts; an order is quoted and placed with a part number %%MDASSML%% not a drawing

  • MRO time and cost savings, because configured parts are less costly and can be ordered and delivered faster than custom replacement parts

  • Product life cycle information can often times be obtained for each discrete configured component from the machine builder and/or part supplier detailing the average life expectancy of each part (or mean time between failure), based on formulas that measure the effects of physical forces to which the part is subjected

  • Higher return on assets for capital equipment is also achievable as a result of keeping automation machinery and systems in optimum condition to deliver peak performance

    • Machine builders focused on optimizing machine designs for serviceability not only derive benefits for their own companies, but also provide significant and measurable value to their customers.







Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me