Quality Assurance and Thread Check with SMAC

The requirement for strict specification and acceptance of all automotive parts and components has greatly increased in recent years. Thread inspection is no exception. Some of the common practices are eddy current probes, lasers, proximity sensors or vision systems that are only partly successful as they only inform you of the presence of a thread, not if it’s correct or within tolerance. Watch the video

The automated thread checking solution from SMAC enables a 100% detailed inspection and verification of all parts. It also identifies tooling wear sooner, and allows SPC data acquisition for process control and quality systems. All of this translates to higher quality and throughput, lower costs and increased customer confidence. This is typically an inline inspection operating at production rates.

SMAC Automatically Checks:

  • Minor diameter
  • Major diameter
  • Pitch diameter
  • Pitch
  • Foreign objects (e.g. broken tap, swarf etc)
  • Thread depth
  • Missing threads
  • Counterbore presence

This application is from SMAC.
Tri-Phase Automation is a SMAC distributor in Wisconsin.
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BOMAG GmbH and WAGO Shake Things Up

BOMAG GmbH knows hard work. The compaction technology leader makes the world move, it’s products compact lime on cliffs, move sand in the Sahara and crush trash in suburbia.

BOMAG’s top-tier steamrollers are 14-ton, diesel-powered workhorses that can be outfitted with one or two massive steel drums for compacting the hardest surfaces. In fact, BOMAG steamrollers can produce 20G of vibration for specialized construction.

Extraordinary vibration is not the only challenge BOMAG’s electronics must withstand; the products are subjected to steamy tropical jungles, sub-arctic windblasts and oppressive UV rays while minerals, such as lime, seep into every nook and cranny. BOMAG’s switching boxes must have sufficient ventilation while proving tough enough for extreme compaction. However, those aren’t BOMAG’s only obstacles.Whether in Dubai or Siberia, comfort and safety matter, and have driven BOMAG to equip steamrollers with luxuries such as electronic stability control and air-conditioned cabins. Despite this, BOMAG has remained true to its technical motto of “simple, but robust” as it sought to prevent contact problems from halting 14-ton compactors and creating costly on-site troubleshooting. With all of BOMAG’s requirements, a completely new electronic solution to an age-old problem was needed.

BOMAG built its rock-solid reputation on dependability and flexibility, and has chosen the WAGO X-COM-SYSTEM of terminal blocks and connectors to get it done. The first step that the BOMAG engineers were already looking into was the “switch box” that contained its central electronic distribution. The existing wiring system took up too much space and was not flexible. The solution was in the switch box: rail mounted terminal blocks with CAGE-CLAMP®-connection, that offer more distribution options:The terminal blocks are vibration safe. The required fatigue resistance of up to 5 g at 30 Hz, is easily met.The terminal blocks are flexible. Any accessories can be easily added in the field at any time — a little room on the rail is all that is needed. Even in compact machinery with limited area, the overview remains.

The terminal blocks are compact and save time on wiring. They are already compact because of their design. Using multiple conductor terminal blocks and jumpers allows more potential to be distributed. Some terminal blocks accept car fuses which saves a separate fuse box and wiring. Furthermore, the fuses placed in a locked distribution unit are tamper resistant.

BOMAG still needed stout connectors — try producing a 14-ton steamroller with out them! The versatility of WAGO’s X-COM-SYSTEM saved the day: WAGO created custom connectors tough enough to withstand compaction, yet are just 59mm high. With the X-COM-SYSTEM, WAGO created receptacles that function similarly to rail-mounted blocks and designed the receptacles to connect with modular female connectors. WAGO also engineered an angled version, which can be combined with a double-deck receptacle. The newly designed components were met with such interest that they have since become a WAGO catalog staple.

BOMAG benefited by:

  • Flexible development, which allows for multiple system re-configurations.
  • Availability of complete, system-compatible cable trees.
  • No need for specialty tools. CAGE-CLAMP® connections can be handled by a screwdriver.

This is an application story from WAGO.
Tri-Phase Automation is a WAGO distributor in Wisconsin.
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Anybus Communicator CAN

A vessel that moves makes money. A vessel that doesn’t takes money.

The communication inside the BRC 800 is carried out using Berg Propulsion’s own proprietary protocol. The BRC 800 communicates with other electronic devices on the bridge such as for example the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) which is the ship’s “black box” registering every turn or maneuver the ship makes.

One of Berg Propulsion’s customers, the Swedish Transport Administration, which operates car ferries, wanted to connect a propeller display to the BRC 800 in order to see the exact position of each propeller at any particular time.“The problem was that the propeller display only communicated via a proprietary CAN protocol,” says Tomas Holmquist, Group Manager Control Systems at Berg Propulsion. ”We considered the idea of developing an interface to this protocol ourselves, but quickly realized that this would take some time. We therefore started to investigate whether there were any ready-made protocol converters. HMS seemed to have a simple and easy-to-use solution in their Anybus Communicator series.”Berg Propulsion got in contact with HMS and were suggested a solution involving the Anybus Communicator CAN. This is a stand-alone protocol converter which acts as a translator between devices with a CAN port and any fieldbus or industrial Ethernet network. Berg Propulsion chose to use the Anybus Communicator CAN for Modbus RTU since Modbus RTU could be used to communicate with the BRC 800 control system.The installation is now in use at a car ferry between Gothenburg and Hönö on the Swedish West coast. “It is actually the ferry we take to get to work in the mornings so it had better work,” Tomas Holmquist says with a smile. The vessel is equipped with two 360 degree-rotating propellers — one in the bow and one in the aft. As the ferry has no rudder, the only way for the operator to know the position of the propellers, is to use the propeller display.

“Despite the fact that our control system uses a proprietary protocol which doesn’t adhere to any particular fieldbus standard, we could easily connect the propeller display to our control system with this gateway,” says Tomas Holmquist. “It was easy to set up and whenever we had questions, HMS support was very quick to help out. We don’t really have a very advanced solution here and we only send data one way, but we wanted something that was solid and easy to use. The Anybus Communicator CAN was just that. Furthermore, we also see a trend in our business towards CAN-based communication so the Anybus solutions can become even more valuable to us in the future,” concludes Tomas Holmquist.

This is an application story from HMS/Anybus.
Tri-Phase Automation is a HMS/Anybus/eWon distributor in Wisconsin.
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Advantech: Automatic Guided Vehicle

An automated guided vehicle (AGV) is a mobile robot that follows markers or wires in the floor, or uses vision or lasers. They are most often used in industrial applications to move materials around a manufacturing facility. One of our customers was looking to build an AGV for use in their warehouse that could integrate sound, light, and computer technologies which could be programmed to communicate with other robots to ensure products are moved as intended throughout the warehouse, whether to be stored for future use or sent directly to shipping areas.

System Requirements
Automated Guided Vehicles can be used in a wide variety of applications to transport many different types of material including pallets, rolls, racks, carts, and containers. AGVs excel in applications with the following characteristics; repetitive movement of materials over a distance, regular delivery of stable loads, medium throughput/volume, when on-time delivery is critical and late deliveries are causing inefficiency, operations with at least two shifts, or processes where tracking material is important. The customer had the following requirements when looking for products to help build their AGV:

  • An industrial computer platform with good anti-jamming ability
  • Easy for I/O expansion
  • Signals (such as offset and speed) acquisition and motor monitoring
  • Long time and failure-free operation

AGVs employ a lot of technology to ensure they do not hit one another and make sure they get to their destination. Loading and transportation of materials from one area to another is the main task of the AGV.  Central logging stores all the data and history from these vehicles which can be printed out for technical support or logged to check for up time. This solution consists of an industrial computer platform for connecting the monitor, keyboard and I/O expansions to read data of speed sensors and offset sensors as well as monitor the motor of the vehicle.

This application success story is from Advantech
Tri-Phase Automation is an Advantech distributor in Wisconsin.
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SICK solution for flexible plastic parts inspection for Automotive Suppliers

In an automatic testing unit, a 3D smart camera combined with an encoder enables flexible quality checking of a wide range of different plastic parts.


Automotive Suppliers

The Czech company Provys specializes in the construction of specialist machines for the automobile and electro-technical industries. The customer AKT requested the development of an inspection system which could check a variety of plastic parts, such as lock covers for cars, for a wide range of different characteristics. Due to the complex nature and variety of inspection tasks – eight part types, each with more than 20 inspection characteristics – the solution needed to be flexible and adaptable. The contrast conditions – black parts against a black background – provided a further challenge for the inspection process. The final aim was to create a solution which could write the measurement values and records of the parts inspections in LOG files so that the production and inspection data for individual parts could be accessed at any time.

Application Solution
For this task, Provys developed an inspection system in which a SICK 3D smart camera (IVC-3D) is moved over the test objects by a linear motor. The smart camera scans the test objects with its integrated laser-optic system and generates a profile section. Connected to the camera is an encoder (DRS60) which adds the exact position for each profile section, so that the camera can generate a complete, high-precision 3D image of the test object. The 3D camera uses the recorded data to determine – unaffected by surface colors and contrast – which of the part-specific inspection characteristics programmed into the system are present and which are absent. Both the smart camera and the encoder can be parameterized, meaning that Provys can adapt this entire highly-flexible system to new inspection characteristics at any time.

The 3D smart camera solution inspects parts with high precision and availability. It is ideal for Provys, as it requires only one camera and no extra lighting, due to the built-in laser sensor. The user-friendly camera is also efficient and flexible, and can be independently adapted to new parts or characteristics. Provys procured the 3D smart camera and programmable encoder from a single source, so they are perfectly tuned to each other. The inspection measurements and records are documented, so production and inspection data can be retrieved for the end customer at any time.

This is an application from SICK.
Tri-Phase Automation is a SICK distributor in Wisconsin.
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Mega Yachts From NightWatch Industries Interface By InduSoft

Computing systems are not new to large watercraft. Computers have been used to monitor nautical systems for decades. What is constantly changing are the types of computing systems and the applications they run.

As technology advances in both the systems that run ships and the computers that monitor them, shipbuilders are quick to employ that technology for a competitive or military advantage. It was the competitive advantage NightWatch Industries was seeking when they turned to Southern Controls and to InduSoft two years ago. Alan Davis of Southern Controls explains: “NightWatch had been using Visual Basic to develop display programs for large pilothouse monitors, but they eventually discovered that they really needed a better HMI system to meet the needs of the large, multi-screen, glass bridges which are now standard in the mega yacht world. Norman Dahl of NightWatch agrees. “The smaller PLC driven flat panel displays are fine at the various utility monitoring stations, but the yacht captain needs a better view of how things are running. The pilothouse typically contains an impressive number of controls for which the captain is responsible, and a large screen is really necessary for monitoring the host of systems that run the ship. The passengers and crew depend on it.” This need drove the decision to seek out HMI/SCADA configuration software designed for PCs. They really needed a solution that they could use to easily create templates to keep their own costs down. They also hoped they could find some kind of networked system that would enable both the crew and guests to view the ship’s system, monitoring it from PCs elsewhere on board. They looked at several systems,but were immediately drawn to InduSoft, in part because it came so highly recommended by Davis: “As an InduSoft distributor I’ve helped a lot of customers successfully achieve technical and business objectives very much like the things NightWatch was trying to achieve. Most companies are looking to implement superior solutions and hoping to do that while either maintaining or even lowering their costs. InduSoft fits the bill.”

The Solution
NightWatch was inspired by the partnership because they believed that there would be minimal compatibility challenges -and they were right. As systems began to come online, monitoring modules were put in place and tested, and when there were challenges, InduSoft responded with solid technical support. This factor was important because NightWatch made the unusual choice not to sign up for training when they purchased InduSoft. Dahl offered “We would normally have invested in training with a new application like InduSoft Web Studio. However, we had two factors going for us that caused us to proceed without it.

First, we were very familiar with Visual Basic, and we also knew that we had time to learn the product right here because of the lead time to build the yacht. The gamble paid off and I was pleasantly surprised that the product really wasn’t that hard to learn.” When there were challenges, though, InduSoft responded with unexcelled customer support. When all was said and done, the system worked beautifully. The system monitors hundreds of different points, and thanks to the InduSoft advantage, the screens are more attractive and more articulate. The Captain can monitor dozens of systems almost effortlessly-a critical requirement. Battery and electrical, fire alarms, propulsion, engines, and navigation lights, are just a few of the systems InduSoft Web Studio is now monitoring. And all of these systems can be monitored from anywhere on the yacht.

This is a InduSoft customer success story.
Tri-Phase Automation is an InduSoft distributor in Wisconsin
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InduSoft Web Studio Gives Drag Racer Real-Time Edge in Setting World Record

Finding little secrets to make your car go just a teeny bit faster than everyone else is what wins championships and sets records. Imagine the edge given a drag racer who can tweak fuel flow right before a race.

Texan Trevor Stripling discovered he could use InduSoft Web Studio to monitor and tune his car in real-time as he roars down the track.   Competing drivers record data to prep their cars for the next race.  Stripling used this edge to set a world record.

Data acquisition (DAQ) in a race car is nothing new.  “Just about everybody has data acquisition,” he says, “but it’s all static.”  Stripling’s team records data during a race, and then analyzes it afterward to fine tune the engine for the next run.  “The key to my success is that I can control the tuning of the car in real time, thanks to InduSoft Web Studio,” Stripling praised.

Like many process control systems, the DAQ system connects to higher-level management software—in this case, a laptop computer in the race car trailer.  “In the past, we had to get the laptop out of the trailer, connect it and download the run data, then convert, analyze and graph it,” says Stripling. “With InduSoft Web Studio’s scripting and database connectivity and Maple System’s USB communication ports, we now just touch a button on the screen and a script goes out to the PLC, gets all the log data, converts it to engineering units, and loads it into a database on a USB thumb drive.  We simply take the thumb drive to the trailer and plug it into the laptop where all the run data is analyzed and graphed in Excel.  We are currently working on adding a wireless USB card to the HMI so we can wirelessly access the run data.”

This an InduSoft customer success story.
Tri-Phase Automation is an InduSoft distributor in Wisconsin
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The Benefits of Electric Actuators for Mobile Off-Highway Applications

Trend Toward Electric Actuators

Off-highway vehicle manufacturers are taking a long, hard look at the way they use motion control systems in off-highway vehicles. Once dominated by pneumatic and hydraulic systems, equipment is increasingly equipped with electric actuators.

Electric actuators are smaller, lighter and cleaner than hydraulic systems–all attributes that brighten a company’s bottom line. In fact, electric actuators:

  • Eliminate the need for hydraulic pumps and hoses
  • Eliminate the cost and bulk associated with hydraulic systems
  • Eliminate environmentally hazardous oil and leakage
  • Eliminate high energy consumption of hydraulic systems

Rugged and reliable, our electro-mechanical actuators withstand harsh environments. They operate in extremes of heat and cold, dust, dirt and much and continue to run flawlessly and function efficiently. Typical applications include:

  • Constructions/Road Maintenance
  • Farm/Forestry
  • Turf/Lawn & Garden
  • Railways
  • Recreational

Tri-Phase Automation is a Thomson distributor in Wisconsin
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Steer-by-Wire Systems with the Integrated Torque Feedback Improving Steering Performance and Reduce Cost

Hydraulic steering systems have long dominated the industrial utility vehicle market because of their familiarity both to vehicle designers and operators.

Recent trends in the industry position hydraulic steering as less advantageous for many industrial utility vehicles. Hydraulic steering systems require a motor, pump, valves, hoses and fittings. Utility vehicles that utilize hydraulic drives for other functions may or may not have a hydraulic pump with enough capacity to accommodate the steering system.

Advantages of electronic steer-by-wire systems.

Another reason for the trend away from hydraulic steering is substantial performance improvements that have been made in electric motors in recently years. The power density of electric motors has substantially increased because of advances in magnetic materials, lead/ball screw efficiency, construction, manufacturing techniques and electronics. Today’s electric motors can deliver substantially more power while maintaining high levels of efficiency. Steer-by-wire systems have also benefited by the improved reliability as published in Industrial Utility Vehicle & Mobile Equipment of all electronic and electrical products. Electronic steering systems provide nearly maintenance free operation and are thus much less prone to fail due to lack of maintenance.Nilfisk-Advance, Inc. is the world’s largest manufacturer of professional cleaning equipment. Nilfisk-Advance engineers made the decision to upgrade the steering system to electronic steer-by-wire in order to improve steering performance, reduce power consumption and make it possible to add additional features. Nilfisk-Advance, Inc. engineers adjusted the torque feedback to simulate the hydraulic steering systems that many customers are used to. They configured the unit to provide fewer lock-to-lock steering wheel turns than are required by most hydraulic systems to reduce the amount of operator effort. They also decreased the level of steering sensitivity when the vehicle is going straight in order to make it easier for the operator to keep the vehicle on a straight path.

Nilfisk-Advance, Inc. ran the Danaher integrated electronic steer-by-wire systems through thousands of cycles on life test fixtures. The units performed perfectly in these tests which simulated the service life of a machine. The integrated steer-by-wire system replaced the old torque-assist unit, a shaft and a u-joint while providing a cost reduction of 25%, said Steve Strand, Continuation Engineer for Nilfisk-Advance. The ability to fit within the envelope provided by the existing console saved thousands in tooling costs. Feedback from customers who have driven the prototypes has been very favorable, and the scrubbersweepers with the new steering system will soon enter production.

As published in Industrial Utility Vehicle & Mobile Equipment Jan/Feb 2009 Volume 21 – Issue 13 (repost)

A success story of Danaher/Kollmorgen
Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Kollmorgen in Wisconsin.
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Protocol conversion at sea

Berg Propulsion  is a Swedish based company manufacturing propulsion systems for the shipping industry world -wide. They use  a self-developed control system called the BRC 800. This includes the levers and buttons needed to maneuver the ship in the desired way. The communication inside the BCR 800 is carried out using Berg Proprietary protocol. The BRC 800 communicated with other electronic devices on the bridge such as the Voyage Data Recorder which is the ship’s “Black Box” registering every turn or maneuver the ship makes. One of Berg Propulsion customer’s wanted to connect a propeller display to the BRC 800 in order to see the exact position of each propeller at any particular time.  The problem was that the propeller display only communicated via proprietary CAN protocol. HMS had a simple and easy-to-use solutions.

HMD suggested a solution involving the HMS/Anybus Communicator CAN, a stand-alone protocol converter which acts as a translator between devices with a CAN port and any fieldbus or industrial Ethernet network. Berg chose to use the Anybus Communicator CAN for Modbus RTU since Modbus RTU could be used to communicate with the BRC 800 control system.

Tri-Phase Automation is a HMS/Anybus distributor in Wisconsin.
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