Tips and Tricks: Advantage digital, precise CNC integration, efficiency, safety
Digital advantages; CNC precision, speed, integration; VSDs improve compressor efficiency; safety automation are among key Control Engineering Tips and Tricks this month.
This page is devoted to automation and controls advice. Control Engineering seeks to encourage the long-standing spirit of sharing engineering information common to all manufacturers. No matter what you make or how you made it, let’s help each other raise the bar on automation and process control productivity, to survive and thrive. Have something to share? Please submit under Tips and Tricks at www.controleng.com/events-and-awards. Advice below was gleaned from areas of www.controleng.com as noted.
Gain advantages beyond the control loop with digital automation
John Berra, after 41 years, retired from Emerson Process Management. Among comments available at www.controleng.com/videos, he said automation is an integral part of how to run a plant, enabling businesses to move beyond mastery of individual control loops to optimizing business decisions. Digital technology has changed the face of automation. There’s a lot to gain by jumping on innovation and selling the benefits throughout the organization. The people in the top quartile are getting there with smart applications of automation, along with the training, management, and business processes they put around that automation. The highest ROI in any plant is from control and automation, which account for 5-10% of the expenditure of the plant, but enable higher productivity in the other 90% of the investment. When the automation isn’t any good, the other 90% doesn’t run at all.
CNC cost savings: higher precision at higher speed; easier training, design simplicity with integration
Sloan Zupan, Mitsubishi Electric, says higher precision CNCs have increased tool speed and throughput, increasing return on investment. In savings less quantified, integration of CNC and automation controls lowers costs by reducing training and saving control cabinet space. – Video: Mitsubishi Electric interview at IMTS. www.controleng.com/videos
Variable speed drives add efficiency to air compressors
Allen Kuhlman from Atlas Copco says annual energy cost of running an air compressor equals the cost of the compressor. Variable speed drive (VSD), added to some compressor designs, creates only what’s needed, rather than unloading pressure from the system, which creates waste. Garner more savings by not over-designing piping; stay within 5% of maximum pressure. Do preventive maintenance to extend compressor life and avoid unplanned shutdowns. – Video: IMTS 2010: Atlas Copco talks air compressors. www.controleng.com/videos
Buy robots with the next application in mind, too
“Robots look for opportunities too,” a Sept. 24 “Ask Control Engineering” blog post, suggests that when investing in a robot, the purchaser should consider the next application as well, not just the current one, so a robot with an appropriately flexible skill set can be selected. www.controleng.com/blogs
Overdue for risk reduction and cost savings: Is it unsafe to not automate safety?
“When will the 85% of the market update their minds about machine safety and stop living in the 70’s and 80’s with old technology and costly solutions that don’t always work 24/7?” asks J.B. Titus, Control Engineering Machine Safety blogger in the Sept. 24 post: “Updating Minds About Machine Safety.” If you’re still with the 85% not implementing safety automation, see past the slightly higher cost of the new components. Understand that safety automation eliminates dozens of engineering hours and wiring & checkout, creating savings, in addition to lowering risk. Automated, integrated automated safety solutions helps with the major machine safety buzzwords: risk assessment, functional safety, mean time to fail dangerous, coefficient of diagnostics, and others. www.controleng.com/blogs
Submit your Tips and Tricks for Control Engineering now at www.controleng.com/events-and-awards/ce-tips-and-tricks.html.