Most people in our industry have heard the term “Smart Machines.” Generally, this is referring to data collection and analytics, but I personally like to make smart machines smarter, mechanically. A lateral step in the smart machine movement may be those who can perform automatic, recipe driven setups and adjustments in order to run specific products.
Automatic or mostly automatic changeovers can make the machines smarter, faster, safer, and more accurate! Machines that are multipurpose must have some sort of changeover procedure or adjustment. The problem with the old hand wheel and counter adjustment is while there is a means for providing accurate positioning, it requires operator A to turn the wheel to the same position as operator B on any given day for any given product. Sure, these settings are recorded SOMEWHERE, but getting everyone to agree and follow the settings may be a challenge. Keeping changeovers quick, consistent, and having the machine up to speed while making widgets faster, and perhaps reducing waste, are the goals.
One solution I have successfully implemented to address these challenges is by using a Halstrup-Walcher positioning system. These units consist of a gear motor, with absolute multi turn feedback, and an Ethernet/IP connection. These versatile devices can accomplish the adjustment task, integrate into most control systems, and be exact every time.
Each unit has two ports, allowing for a daisy chain for communication. Only 24VDC is needed, nothing further required in the cabinet. By commanding the devices to position via add-on instructions in Studio 5000, most scenarios can be handled easily. Halstrup-Walcher has several mounting configurations, environmental resistance ratings (stainless too) and outputs that mimic the connections of traditional orange counters, to make machine retrofit installations easy. If you need a mechanically smarter machine – automating the changeover process can be a first great step.