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Igus’ newest Energy Chain cable carrier, E4-1, combines the features and benefits of its three predecessors in the E4 cable carrier range, including low noise, ruggedness and modularity. E4-1 is ideal for a wide range of industrial applications such as cranes, machine tools, construction machinery and robotic handling systems. It features an easy-to-open, double-lock design, which allows the cable carrier to be opened and closed using a flathead screwdriver. The lids can be removed from both sides of the carrier and are hinged on the outer radius for fast cable installation. The cable carrier's smooth interior combined with numerous cable separation options not only prevents cable damage, but ensures the cables remain secure while the carrier is in motion.
Synchronizing PLC code with a realistic model to create a reliable debugging framework has always been a challenge for off-line virtual commissioning, but development work carried out by Emulate3D on a MicroLogix 1100 series B emulator shows that this is now achievable, according to the company. Emulate3D Controls Testing (ECT) is used to commission automation system controls off line, off the project critical path. This approach, based on replacing the real automation with a reliable 3D virtual model of it connected to the PLC, allows controls designers to verify the correct logical operation of the system without the usual constraints imposed upon them by working under complicated on-site conditions, with limited time available before handover. Emulate3D Inc. has enhanced this approach by creating a MicroLogix 1100 B soft PLC that can read in control code, link to the model and run faster than real time, allowing testing to be completed faster and more cost-effectively than was previously achievable, the company says. Work continues to develop this further into a broader range of widely used PLCs from several manufacturers, including Rockwell Automation, Siemens and Mitsubishi.
Dorner’s new AquaGard 7100 Series Stainless Steel Tabletop Chain Conveyor is engineered to make tight turns, and for inclines and declines. This flexibility is ideal for product routing in wipe down sanitary applications in the food, packaging and pharmaceutical industries, the company says. The conveyor design includes powered micro pitch transfer modules and side transfer modules for maximum performance. Other features and benefits include: belt speeds up to 250 feet per minute; 300 Series stainless steel, FDA-approved plastics and stainless steel; chain widths of 4.5, 7.5, 10 and 12 inches; 600-lb load capacity; incline/decline modules up to 30 degrees; and low friction, friction insert and roller top chain
Columbia Machine’s HL7200 High-Speed, Inline Palletizer incorporates a safety package that includes Category 3 electrical safety components — dual-channel safety interlocks and full height light curtains positioned on the full load discharge and empty pallet infeed. A dual slot automatic hoist pin latching system on the full load hoist and pallet dispenser hoist provide a redundant fail-safe protection system. Fully integrated upper and lower guarding with viewing panels and multiple access doors that incorporate a trapped key door access system provide the safety and function that meets OSHA requirements for Minor Servicing, the company says. The palletizer is also designed for flexibility by incorporating Columbia’s new programmable laner technology with its proven soft turn and configurable layer table to provide accurate and stable layer forming. Columbia provides an HMI where the operator can create new patterns or modify existing patterns via the HMI. The system can accurately palletize 72 to 120 cases per minute (depending on pattern), the company says.
Designed for applications that require a basic DC voltage power supply, RHINO PSB series DIN rail mount single-phase and three-phase input power supplies with IP20-rated terminals feature rugged plastic or aluminum housings and output status LED indicators, as well as overload, overvoltage and thermal protection. Five new models are approved for Class I, Div. 2 hazardous locations, and one new unit is UL 1310 recognized (NEC Class 2). DIN rail mount 12, 24 and 48 VDC output, 85-264 VAC/ 120-375 VDC single-phase input voltage power supplies are available, in addition to three-phase, 320-600 VAC input versions with 24 VDC outputs from 60 to 960 watts. RHINO PSB series redundancy modules are designed to help prevent costly downtime due to power supply failure, and a new buffer module is an alternative to battery-based backup systems. The power supplies are available from
Denso Robotics’ Enhanced Multirobot (EMU) simulation and offline programming software, which serves as a master controller for robot project files imported from the company’s WINCAPS III application, allows users to simulate and program up to 16 Denso robots in a single automation workcell. WINCAPS III allows a robot to be programmed on an offline computer. A 3-D simulation feature enables layout of an entire automation workcell in a virtual environment. The software lets users import CAD drawings in standard VRML and DirectX formats, and easily input or change variables, the company says. Users can also verify reach, determine obstacle clearances, detect collisions, troubleshoot and debug programs, and determine cycle time. An Easy Teach feature allows users to move the robot to a particular point by simply clicking on the surface of the virtual model. Simulation sessions can be saved as AVI files for later reference. In addition to offline programming, WINCAPS III enables remote monitoring of workcell operations, via real-time I/O status indicators and detailed control
The Swift Arc ML (Mobile Learning) System, from ESAB Welding & Cutting Products, is a fully contained robotic welding system for education and training. Swift Arc ML is part of ESAB’s Swift Arc series of pre-engineered robotic welding cells offered as complete ready-to-weld units. The robotic education cell is designed to demonstrate, develop and teach proper welding techniques, robot programming and welding skills. Its mobile platform facilitates on-site training and quickly transforms any space into a robotic welding training environment. The Swift Arc ML robotic cell is comprised of an ESAB Aristo U5000i power source, KUKA KR6 900 robot and controller, touch screen robot pendant, expandable cell walls, and interlock safety system. Its robust construction features a steel tube frame with acrylic windows and heavy-duty casters for easy mobility. Designed specifically for training environments, Swift Arc ML features an interlock safety system and operator control panel to enable instruction of programming and troubleshooting techniques required in real-life industrial robotic welding applications. An intuitive control pendant facilitates fast adaptation to the robot
Schunk’s RVK collection gripper has a revolving head, which allows the unit to collect several workpieces before transferring them. The gripper in the working position can be operated independently from the other grippers, which remain in the gripped state when not in use. The RVK allows for lower cycle times and fewer transport strokes in a pick-and-place system, and because of its integrated valve technology, fewer valves are required as well. It can be used in clean to slightly contaminated environments, such as assembly or packaging areas, or wherever fast cycles are required. Integrated electric feed-throughs allow all of the grippers to be continuously monitored. The RVK can be mounted to the ERS 135, 170 or the RST-D 087 from Schunk. It can also be adapted to mount on other rotary units, such as another rotary module or a robot arm, as long as there is a through-bore available. Standard adapter plates allow the use of various grippers, as well as the ability to externally or internally grip workpieces.
TransitionWorks Software’s TouchERP for Sales (BPCS/ERPLX) is a real-time mobile solution designed to increase sales force productivity, reduce order errors, and deepen customer relationships with the power of full access to their BPCS/ERPLX system directly at their fingertips on a smartphone or tablet. TouchERP for Sales is the first in a series of mobile apps built with the TransitionWorks Mobile Platform for BPCS/ERPLX system users. Developed for both iOS and Android devices, TouchERP for Sales allows sales professionals to place orders, access vital customer and product data (sales, order history, product availability), and get a snapshot of current sales performance from anywhere, anytime, via smartphone or tablet. The product will soon be available for other leading ERPs, including SAP. The app puts ERP functionality in the hands of field sales representatives for on-the-go sales execution, using BPCS-configured pricing. In addition to the mobile app, a browser version of TouchERP for Sales is available for inside sales and customer service representatives.
Elysium Inc. has announced the release of CADfeature 11.3, the company’s new browser-enhanced, feature-based program for repairing, migrating and reporting on product engineering data that is exchanged within manufacturing organizations and their supply chains. The newest version of CADfeature addresses long-sought industry goals of perfecting and speeding the creation of master CAD models used to build products ranging from appliances to medical devices, automobiles, aircraft and more. Functions and enhancements in CADfeature 11.3 include: added support for the post-translation/re-mastering processes to finish data to a level at or nearing 100 per cent completion when compared to the original source model; new reporting and guided post-translation functions; and automatic quality assurance checks on translations and re-mastering. The HTML-based document style allows users to open reports from their basic Internet browser.
The new EP1816-3008 EtherCAT Box from Beckhoff Automation is an I/O solution with built-in tilt monitoring in longitudinal and transverse directions. This compact, IP 67-rated measuring device has two integrated three-axis acceleration sensors and 16 digital inputs. Ideal for harsh environments, the I/O module can be used to implement cost-effective acceleration and angle measurement directly in the field, outside of protective electrical cabinets, the company says. A typical application for the three-axis acceleration box is vibration and shock/oscillation monitoring of machines, plants and buildings. For example, vibrations of robot arms can be precisely monitored with no great effort via the acceleration measurements, the company explains. The signals are available directly in the main control system rather than being managed with standalone measurement solutions. The two sensors, which are arranged at 90-degree angles, make the EP1816-3008 a redundant measuring system, which can be reliably verified by the
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) recently announced a series of initiatives, in partnership with the Government of Canada, to help narrow the nation’s skills gap. Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney and CME president and CEO Jayson Myers made the announcement at the Siemens Ruggedcom plant in Concord, Ont., on April 12.
Skills Ontario is hosting the qualifying competition for its annual Ontario Technological Skills Competition on Saturday, April 12. At colleges across the province, high school students will face off in the carpentry, welding, culinary arts, small powered equipment, TV and video production, and 2D character animation categories.
The Ontario government has released a renewed vision for the education system in the province that is aimed at ensuring students get the knowledge and skills they need to thrive.
Seven high-demand programs at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) will be expanded between now and 2017 to accommodate additional students, thanks to provincial funding announced in the 2014 budget.
A new electromechanical training program will be offered at the Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) - Edmundston Campus thanks to investments from the provincial government.
Ontario is preparing 200 people to become apprentices by providing training opportunities through the construction of Pan Am and Parapan Am Games infrastructure projects.
Manufacturing has come a long way from past images, transforming into what is today a high-tech, leading-edge industry with plenty of job opportunities. That’s the message from the organizers of FABTECH Canada, the country’s largest and only exclusive metal forming, fabricating, welding, stamping, coating and finishing event, which takes place March 18-20 at the Toronto Congress Centre.
A manufacturing facility is only as reliable as its power source, as much of the equipment in those facilities must have a robust supply of electrical power. That’s why the low- and medium-voltage switchgear and other power control products produced by Thomson Technology are so critical for facility power generation infrastructure. Such products require an equally reliable SCADA and HMI solution.
A new educational tool — a flexible, user-configurable 3D simulation application for automation training — is now available to educators and manufacturers in Canada.
A group of stakeholders in the manufacturing industry is developing a new vision of what they believe industrial apprenticeships should look like in Canada, and they’re getting ready to bring this vision to government.
School is in session at Abbott Point of Care in Ottawa, Ont. One hundred and forty of the manufacturer’s employees started an Instrumentation and Control Technician apprenticeship program in September — a program aimed at helping employees gain the skills they need to adapt to a changing manufacturing industry, and support the investments in automation and advanced technology that the company has made throughout the plant in recent years.
Automation can be a huge investment for a company, one that has to be carefully planned. But once a company has made the investment, the returns can be impressive.
As electronics become smaller, faster, cheaper and smarter, it’s safe to say that the plant floor of the future is here — at least on paper.
This week's Industry Update video focuses on additive manufacturing. Watch the video and learn about the double-digit growth expected for the 3D printing market over the next several years; a new event in Canada that will focus on the technology; and what's ahead in Manufacturing AUTOMATION's May 2014 issue.
Limiting worker exposure to the electrical hazards of shock and arc flash is the foundation of any electrical safety program. Using test leads and clamps to probe inside of a live panel when troubleshooting and performing routine maintenance always exposes workers to danger. Electrical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a last line of defence and must never be relied upon as the primary method of protecting electricians and technicians. Safe work practices, including the use of non-contact test tools that do not require electrical workers to place themselves in harms way, must first be considered when it comes to electrical safety.
A Canadian manufacturer of composite materials used in construction materials, tires and other products moves work in process around its facility on a conveyor system. Each carrier on the conveyor system has a tag with a 1-D barcode used to track which operations have been performed on its contents and direct it to the next station. The tags can be challenging to read because the carriers go through ovens where they pick up soot, are sprayed with water and are dented in collisions.
Manufacturing AUTOMATION asked a handful of industry experts to name the top five technologies and trends that Canadian manufacturers should watch out for in 2014 and beyond. Like last year, cloud computing and mobile devices were top choices, as was security. Also topping this year’s list is additive manufacturing (3D printing) and the Internet of Things. Read on to learn the role these technologies and more will play in the manufacturing industry this year.
Several years ago, CIBA Vision Sterile Manufacturing was faced with a challenge. The Mississauga, Ont.-based manufacturer of contact lens care products required a custom machine guarding solution for its manufacturing environment — an environment that must be sterile to meet stringent regulatory requirements.
Many process plants have hazardous areas where there are explosive atmospheres. These can be ignited even by low levels of electrical or thermal energy, such as arcing or sparks from electrical circuits. It’s therefore essential that industrial displays are designed to prevent any such ignition opportunities in a hazardous environment — an environment where flammable vapours or gases, combustible dust, flammable liquids or ignitable fibres are present.
SKF has announced plans to build two new Global Technical Centres in Europe — one in Gothenburg, Sweden and one in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands.
Manufacturers need to adjust their processes and understand analytics. They need to be empowered to better understand what’s going on in real time by measuring the right things and understanding the data and how to link cause and effect.
Chris Vitale, senior product manager, Turck Inc. (North America), introduces the latest block I/O with washdown capability for Turck's line of Ethernet multi-protocol automation products at SPS IPC Drives 2013 in Nuremberg, Germany.
At SPS IPC Drives 2013 in Nurmemberg, Germany, Idec managing director Stephen Schiller, European Operations, outlines the new multiprotocol- and USB-compatible, analog and digital I/O, SmartAXIS line of PLCs and touchscreen controllers for a broad range of automation applications.
The Fieldbus Foundation, conducting a press briefing at the Hannover Fair on Monday, announced significant progress in its discussions with the HART Communication Foundation on the potential for merging the two organizations into a single industry foundation dedicated to the needs of intelligent device communications in the world of process automation.
The Fieldbus Foundation, conducting a press briefing at the Hannover Fair on Monday, commemorated its 20th anniversary.
A white paper from InduSoft, an Invensys company, describes in depth the benefits multi-touch HMI offers the automation world.
The term "dry wine" has a new meaning at Vincor International's Quebec bottling operation since soap-and-water lubrication have been eliminated from the conveyor line by installing a new conveyor chain and wear track.
To stay competitive with large-scale agricultural producers, today’s small, privately owned farms are turning to automation as a way to improve the efficiency of their operations.
Process automation projects are most often driven by bottom line results, return on investment and an appropriate value position or justification.
AutomationDirect has released a new white paper that explains how businesses benefit from the in-depth information that new PLCs and PACs can provide on processes, machines and manufacturing operations. 
  With the arrival of the latest generation of KSB’s Movitec pumps, KSB Canada has widened its portfolio of small size centrifugal pumps. The 2013 Movitec series feature optimized laser welded hydraulics.
Manufacturing AUTOMATION columnist and respected industrial networking expert Ian Verhappen, has been named to the Process Automation Hall of Fame. Verhappen’s entire career has been dedicated to automation. As a leader in automation practices, he has worked closely with the Standards Council of Canada and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Among his many achievements, Verhappen led the world's first multi-vendor Foundation Fieldbus (FF) pilot test. While serving as International Society of Automation’s (ISA) vice-president of publications, he co-authored the Foundation Fieldbus book, soon to be in its fourth edition in English, Spanish and Portuguese. The Process Automation Hall of Fame was established by Control magazine, a publication dedicated to process automation. Inductees are celebrated for their major contributions to the automation profession. You can read past issues of Verhappen’s popular “Columnbus” column in back issues of Manufacturing AUTOMATION or on the Columnbus page on our website.
A distributed I/O network can provide a universal and modular way to connect a wide range of signal input and control output possibilities. Hosted by journalist and industry expert Peter Welander, this video shows the benefits of using a distributed I/O network to send information between instrumentation devices in their and control elements in a control room or on a factory floor. Connecting field devices to the network saves time and expenses associated with the installation and repair of wiring. The modular nature of distributed I/O networks makes it easy to add expand operations or integrate legacy process sensors. In addition, peer-to-peer systems are redundant, meaning that a break in a wire pair will not affect signal transmission.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan’s Analysis of the North American Submersible Pumps Market research finds that the market earned revenues of $264.5 million in 2011 and estimates this to reach $364.7 million in 2018.
Process reliability is one of the principal factors governing the economic operation of high-value micro assembly machines that produce miniature electronic and optical components. German manufacturer Amicra Mikrotechnologie GmbH learned that first-hand when it achieved major improvements with Renishaw’s future-oriented absolute measuring system, Resolute, which allow Micro Assembly Cells to be commissioned more quickly and, in particular, independently of the operator’s vigilance. This is particularly important for microelectronics and micro-optics applications in the automotive sector, telecommunications and IT industries. Fast feed and very precise positioning The components to be bonded and mounted, such as active / passive semi-conductors, lenses, MEMS, and processors, are picked up with the aid of linear axes and special grippers from feed stations. The components are then positioned on boards or wafers, where they are bonded with adhesives, soldered conventionally or soldered with a laser beam. Surface mounting on wafers and stack die technology make particular demands on mounting and production technology. Stack die technology is used to construct three-dimensional memory and computer structures; semi-conductors are not only mounted horizontally next to each other and connected (SoC), but also vertically in several planes (TSV). Further miniaturisation is achieved as a result of a higher packing density. Amicra develops and manufactures Micro Assembly Cells designed for this purpose. These machines are known in particular for their high levels of accuracy and reliability. Using a large array of horizontal and vertical linear axes, they surface mount wafers with practically no unproductive downtime. While a component is being positioned, a second handling unit is already picking up the next component from a buffer store. At the same time, the work tables and other linear axes with lasers and UV lamps move to the positions required for the soldering and bonding processes. In addition, other axes position the integrated process monitoring cameras. Collisions absolutely ruled out As Horst Lapsien, managing director of the German company, explained, the high process reliability of these installations is particularly instrumental in their economic operation. A crash between the alternate positioning grippers and linear axes must be avoided. “This can be achieved through the extremely precise programming of the motions,” Lapsien says. “Furthermore, the measuring systems on the linear axes have to detect the current position of the slides reliably and very precisely.” This could only be achieved to a limited extent with the incremental measuring systems used previously. “In the past, starting up the production and mounting cycle after a stoppage was unsatisfactory because the readheads of all the linear axes had to travel to a reference position first. Only in this way was the control system able to detect the actual position of the axes, but that took an unnecessarily long time,” Lapsien adds. Also, starting from reference positions from an undefined position of the slides represented a significant source of error. If the operator has not analyzed the crash paths first and selected the reference travel cycle accordingly, the installations can suffer considerable damage as the result of the collision of grippers or even of the gantries. This leads to unnecessarily long unproductive times, unnecessary costs and uneconomical downtimes of the entire machine in the event of a crash. Absolute measurements without reference run Thanks to the absolute encoders, Amicra’s mechatronic engineers have been able to improve their machines considerably. The main advantage of these measuring systems according to Lapsient is that they detect the absolute position immediately at switch-on, without a reference run. Consequently, the Micro Assembly Cells can start their automated cycle quicker, without relying on the operator’s vigilance, after a stoppage or on commissioning for the first time. Process reliability is improved, unproductive times are reduced and expensive crashes are prevented. The RTLA absolute measuring scale can be bonded directly to the substrate or inserted into a special guide, both made from stainless steel. As a result, it easily installs compactly inside the Amicra machines, achieving ±5 µm/m accuracy. The tough stainless steel tape scale is highly resistant to damage, but if necessary, the guide allows easy scale replacement at any time. The encoders feature a unique position detection method, analogous to a very high speed digital camera, capturing very high resolution images of the scale. These images are then analyzed by a powerful Digital Signal Processor (DSP) that applies cross-checking and error-rejection, to determine position to 1 nm. Combined with a built-in position-checking algorithm, the encoder has high immunity to contamination. Lapsien says taht since their introduction into three-shift production operation, his machines have recorded zero stoppages on account of reading errors of the measuring system caused by dirty measuring tapes. The advanced detection technique also enables the absolute encoders to achieve high levels of accuracy with just ±40 nm cyclic error and jitter lower than 10 nm RMS. The result is excellent positional stability and a very low noise level. Therefore the Micro Assembly Cells equipped in this way benefit from higher levels of reliability and performance.
Risk. It’s something most manufacturing managers try to avoid at all costs. Of course, that isn’t always possible.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software provides a central location to manage all of the information associated to a product, automates processes and provides tracking capabilities to capture and resolve issues. With the ability to share information across the enterprise, PLM technology touches many phases of the engineering design and manufacturing cycle. As PLM has evolved from managing core engineering data to encompass more information management downstream, the opportunity for plant managers to leverage this technology is obvious.
Dassault Systèmes, a provider of 3D design software, 3D digital mock up and PLM solutions, has signed a definitive merger agreement to acquire San Diego, Calif.-based Accelrys, Inc., a provider of scientific innovation life cycle management software.
Dassault Systèmes, a provider of 3D design software, 3D Digital Mock Up and PLM solutions, has announced the completion of the acquisition of an 84 per cent controlling interest in Realtime Technology AG for approximately 151 million euros.
Tech Soft 3D, a provider of engineering toolkits and the developer of Adobe’s 3D PDF technology, has acquired tetra4D, a provider of 3D PDF technology to the end user market, and its line of 3D PDF products, including 3D PDF Converter — a solution for converting native 3D CAD data into rich, interactive 3D PDF documents from within Adobe Acrobat.
An Edmonton, Alta.-based food manufacturer has received a $100,000 federal grant to help pay for the adoption of digital technologies to maximize productivity.
  Headquartered in Burlington, Ont., Higginson Equipment was founded in 1945 as a manufacturer of pneumatic and hydraulic NFPA-style cylinders, and as a distributor of fluid power and industrial product lines. In addition, the company manufactures “Economax” corrosion-resistant cylinders for the trucking industry, custom designs and builds special cylinders for a variety of uses, and leverages its expertise in pneumatics to create C-frame air presses. In 2009, Higginson decided to part ways with its 15-year-old business software. “There were three factors motivating our decision,” says company president Bill Allan. “First off, we'd been with our old system for 15 years. It was simplistic, and it didn't have a materials resource planning (MRP) component. The writing was on the wall. Secondly, the recession – we needed to increase our productivity without increasing our manpower. Finally, we received funding in the form of two government grants, one through the Yves Landry Foundation, and the other through the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters' SMART Program. I was already a big believer in ERP. With government assistance, I couldn't say no.” A 20-person company with revenues in the $7 million range, Higginson recognized the necessity of optimizing itself for the future. “We've been steadily growing,” says Allan, “but we needed something to help us get to the next level. We wanted to eliminate the inefficiencies and bottlenecks in our processes, and in doing so, we wanted to build a solid base for improvement and growth.” To facilitate its strategy, Higginson engaged its long-time VAR to perform an assessment and recommend an approach. “Our company-wide processes were analysed in detail,” says Allan. “As a result, we were advised to implement a new, more advanced ERP system. After doing due diligence, and on their recommendation, we chose Syspro.” When it came time for implementation, Higginson did it with alacrity. “We took what is usually a six-month process,” says Allan, “and did it in two months. We spent late nights, inventing on the fly, even made some rash decisions. Fortunately, the VAR that sold us Syspro gave us amazing support, and at the end of the day we got what we wanted.” Bill Allan says the company's new ERPbrought new efficiencies. As Higginson implemented its new ERP, says Allan, most of the old, inefficient processes were funnelled into one of the following categories: • Automated functions available in Syspro (e.g., automated work order creation from sales order; automatic serial numbers generation for manufactured parts) • Product configuration (to automatically define product specifications, Bill of Materials and cost at the time of quotation)• Integration with office productivity tools (such as Microsoft Office)• Electronic faxing and remote connectivity. “Syspro has made us much more efficient,” says Allan, “especially as far as the Bill of Materials and work orders are concerned. We used to have to do an excel spread sheet for every job, and then more spreadsheets to calculate cut-lengths of different materials. Now we just put the model number in and Syspro calculates everything for us.” Before Syspro, adds Allan, Higginson's system supervisor, a highly skilled machine operator, sat at his desk three hours a day doing repetitive calculations. “Thanks to Syspro,” says Allan, “he's now gained three hours a day in production time. We've also managed to eliminate a good number of mistakes. Occasionally, in the past, we'd cut a batch of tie rods incorrectly – not anymore.” Because of Syspro's modular nature, one can add efficiencies to work-flow as time and energy allows. “One thing we want to do more of is load levelling,” says Allan. (Load levelling is the process of evenly distributing demand, in terms of orders or schedule, over a given period of time.) “We haven't quite figured out how to take advantage of it, but load levelling will give us a bird's-eye view of production. That will help us smooth things out, and see problems that might be coming down the road. It's a nice feature that we still have to leverage completely.” When asked about Syspro's ROI, Allan gives thanks again to the government-sponsored grants. “The grants considered,” says Allan, “Syspro is going to pay for itself in a year. The company is out-of-pocket approximately one person's yearly salary. For a relatively small amount of money, we automated our business processes and removed the repetitive paperwork. But the real money-saving consequence of Syspro is that we can now do more with fewer people – and that makes us more competitive. I would definitely recommend Syspro to any manufacturer.” For more information on Higginson Equipment, please visit Odete Passingham is marketing manager for Syspro Canada.  
Dassault Systèmes, a leader in 3D design software, 3D digital mock up and PLM solutions, has announced that SolidWorks World 2014 will take place from January 26-29, 2014 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif.
CAD MicroSolutions presented the launch of SolidWorks 2014 to a room full of customers and also announced it would be representing electronics PCB design software from Altium across Canada. Darren Gornall, CAD MicroSolutions president, talks about the support his company provides for customers and provides an example of productivity gains that can be achieved. Chris Watkinson, managing director, explains some of the key the benefits of SolidWorks 2014, including SolidWorks Electrical, and introduces the Altium platform and how it fits into the product design process.
  With the release of Edition 3 of the IEC 61131-3 PLC programming standard as defined by PLCopen, automation software programmers now have advanced object-oriented design capabilities at their disposal. This greatly expands the programmer’s options in terms of automation programming and future-forward concepts for advanced machine functionality that can be implemented as a result.
VSM Abrasives Canada Inc. is a subsidiary of VSM AG, a global leader in the abrasives market headquartered in Hannover, Germany. In Canada, the company manufactures more than a million abrasive belts a year and sells its product through a network of distributors to industrial end users, most of whom are in the metalworking market. The company also manufactures and sells woodworking abrasives.
Contrary to some popularly held views, implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software does not create an inherent conflict with a lean manufacturing philosophy. Sure, material requirements planning (MRP) functions might operate in a manner inconsistent with pure demand-pull systems, but companies don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach to lean.
Today’s manufacturers need to find ways to operate faster, more efficiently and on a larger-scale to keep up with competitors, especially those beyond our borders.
When I first learned that this issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION was going to focus on the power consumption of the automatic process, I shivered. “Goodness, I’ll have to be politically correct,” I thought. But then I decided to focus my column on the factors to consider when trying to reduce power consumption with the “magic box.”
One of my heroes from the lean and quality movement, Japanese organizational theorist Masaaki Imai, used to say this about successful lean and kaizen implementation: “My definition of lean is to employ minimum resources for the maximum benefits. Therefore, kaizen leads to lean, and lean leads to green. Kaizen is the most environmentally friendly approach.”While there’s no doubt that lean results in lowered waste, material and labour costs, there is less discussion about the benefits of lean in relation to green manufacturing, warehousing, the office, health care and the like. Consumers, regulators, shareholders and stakeholders are all asking for more sustainability. It’s a different world than it was even 10 years ago.Here are a few examples of results cited in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “The Lean and Energy Toolkit”:•    From 2005-2007, General Electric reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 250,000 metric tons and saved $70 million in energy costs.•    A Baxter International facility combined lean/Six Sigma and energy-efficiency efforts to save $300,000 in energy costs in one year.•    Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America has reduced average facility energy consumption per vehicle by 30 per cent since 2000. In fact, Toyota has reduced its landfill contribution down to functionally zero, and achieved ISO 14000 certification because of it.It’s interesting that these three companies are bridging the continuous improvement gap between operational performance and environmental performance. It’s true that when many of us implement lean in our organizations, we try focus on easy-to-change items all the way up to equipment reliability. Embracing lean and green manufacturing requires giving more focus to environmental and energy concerns than just the implementation of reliability improvement projects.It’s easy to do, but it requires a subtle change in perspective. Improvements geared toward equipment reliability have distinct linkages to environmental performance, such as reducing the amount of product and raw material waste through:• The elimination of catastrophic breakdowns through formalized root cause analysis;• Providing routine monitoring of system parameters through predictive technologies; and• Preventing interruptions to production cycles with a focus on overall equipment effectiveness.From lean to greenThe similarity between lean and green is waste. So it should make sense that to achieve higher levels of environmental performance, your organization must first adopt the principles and practices of lean. Two examples from the EPA’s research on lean and the environment help to illustrate this point.•    Eastman Kodak conducted numerous lean kaizen events focused on energy reductions by asking “what do we use energy to do?” They found that over the seven-year period, energy reductions resulted in savings of nearly $15 million.•    Baxter International Healthcare Corporation used value stream mapping. In one plant, 96 opportunities for environmental impact improvement were identified, prioritized and implemented, with an estimated energy reduction value of 170,000 gallons of water per day.Other lean concepts, such as operator care, kanban and SMED, can potentially improve the environmental performance of your organization as well.Operator care programs focus on developing standard work within the operating units to decrease variation, which reduces the amount of product and raw materials waste. For example, a global leader in alumina refining and manufacturing of aluminum products successfully reduced energy consumption as a result of training operators in better standards of loading, starting and operating manufacturing equipment. Kanban is designed to provide the right materials at the right time to support manufacturing needs. Kanban reduces excessive inventories of raw or work-in-process materials. Cell-based manufacturing processes that signal a pull for materials based on the demand for product can significantly reduce raw material consumption, decreasing the amount of waste material delivered to landfills, as well as reducing the demand on raw material resources.SMED, or single minute exchange of dies, has the potential to reduce the amount of waste generated from raw and unprocessed materials left over in manufacturing processes. For example, an aluminum door and window manufacturing facility found that they could reduce the amount of paint wasted per changeover from 50 gallons per day to less than 10 gallons. Paint disposal costs dropped by as much as $280,000 annually, and paint and solvent disposal were reduced by more than 40 per cent. So add some green to your lean by looking over the next horizon and thinking about what else you might achieve in your lean efforts. It might be reducing your landfill contributions by composting, using less cardboard packaging by using totes that are standardized, or by reducing the work-in-process that leads to waste.From the bookshelfLean and Green: Profit for Your Workplace and the Environment By Pamela J. GordonThe main point that Gordon makes is that if you reduce waste and increase recycling, it will be good for the environment and for profits. It’s really as simple as that. Plus, if you’ve already started your lean journey, enhancing that journey to increase recycling shouldn’t be that hard.There’s still a sense out there that business profitability and environmental responsibility are at odds with each other. In much the same way as we’re not able to see the truly transformational nature of the introduction of the Toyota Production System (TPS) because it was so long ago, we’re still holding on to this belief. Toyota turned the world on its ear when it brought forward TPS, and most everything that they did was very innovative, even if today we take some elements of TPS for granted.Gordon proves that capitalism and environmentalism are not mutually exclusive. She shows how green business practices enable organizations to save millions of dollars each year with more than 100 examples of how it’s been done. She details such waste-saving, profit-building acts as basic as digging out usable pre-worn shoe covers to wear in the clean room, and as broad as the city of Santa Monica paving residential streets with white top to reduce urban heat and increase surface longevity. These ideas all came from those closest to production, a key tenet of lean.Many business leaders have invested time, energy, attention and financial resources in environmental protection, but sometimes their efforts are not consistent, appreciated or even encouraged. To her credit, Gordon personally visited 16 of the companies cited, adding a higher degree of authenticity to her work and this book.In short, this is a well-researched and very readable, practical guide aimed at people just beginning their journey. It proves that integrating environmentally friendly processes and procedures in manufacturing operations is not only necessary for code compliance and corporate public relations, but can also improve a company’s financial performance.Question from the floorQuestion: We’re starting our lean initiative with a kaizen approach. We’re getting people to come up with small improvement suggestions and then letting them take care of these issues. We started off good, but our progress has really slowed. Can you help?Answer: Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or that you can’t, you are usually right.” I’m guessing that you started off picking the low-hanging fruit and moved quickly on to more complex issues. You have to shift your collective mindset from talking about why this won’t work to reframing the discussion around making it work. I would also suggest getting everyone together and asking them to list the things that they welcome from this new kaizen initiative, as well as the things that they’re afraid of. I’ve done this in diverse areas — from manufacturing to health care — and the answers may surprise you. Mostly people are afraid of changes to their routine. Take care to point out the items that you want to reduce or eliminate. Make sure that they’ve got some vested interest in this list. It’s not all about maximizing profit. Include items such as unsafe work, high-risk items, high boredom items and the like. Show them that they will be improving their working lives. Lastly, try to move forward at a reasonable pace. I’ve seen too many senior leaders push their employees too quickly.Dr. Timothy Hill is an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist and Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt with global expertise in Human Resources/Human Capital. He can be reached at
There are many instances when our processes regularly lose production time — before shift end, before and after breaks, or as a result of extra setup or maintenance time, adjustment time and time waiting for parts. All of this is lost time that has to be made up or accounted for.
I have never thought of myself as being “out of a loop,” but I fear I have been.
Machine builders put a lot of time, effort and component costs into reliable safety systems for machinery. The requirements for these systems are increasingly complex, with some practitioners estimating as much as 90 hours of design and documentation time required to meet the standards requirements. This begs the question, “Is industry getting good return on investment for the cost associated with functional safety?”
One of the best ways to save energy and minimize waste is to better manage your processes and know what is going on every step of the way. ISA is trying to help manufacturers do this, with three standards committees that are focused on developing documents to improve the way we work with our control systems and their human machine interfaces (HMIs).
When small business owners consider a loan, their primary concerns are generally what you would expect: What is the interest rate? How big is the loan? What will the monthly payments be? But another issue often lurks in the background and gets overlooked: What liens will the lender take and how will that affect the owner’s ability to borrow in the future? The answers to these questions can be devastatingly important.
Before I sat down to write this column about education, I spoke with Neil Parmenter, an adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University, and my mentor. The combination of classroom teaching and online learning are fast making changes in education. Parmenter believes that teaching over the Internet reduces costs and helps people learn quicker. He says that you need a hybrid approach — a combination of both classroom and Internet learning — to achieve the best results.
Lean education and training should pay for itself. You should be able to find a direct relationship between having your people trained in lean and a direct measure of savings. You should be able to see yourselves having fewer mistakes, less rework and more quality work, not to mention happier customers and employees. But how do you get that training or education for your employees? Here are some of my “to do” items to consider when you’re looking for lean education. Be prepared to ask your prospective lean educator about the following: 1.    How will they get to the meat of the matter? Very often, people only provide training for the tools, are sector-specific, or have trainers that don’t have deep experience or lack expertise in training, adult education methods or methods to facilitate transfer of training. Training on the tools, if you’re lucky, will get you lean success 20 per cent of the time. People like to train on the tools largely because it’s an easy thing to do. If you want lean to have a sustainable success, you’ve got to be able to change the organizational culture. Ask your trainer about how they will build a lean culture. 2.    How will they let your people revisit the training? I use the Toyota “train then do” method in conjunction with a real-world value stream mapping (VSM) exercise. This involves training them on a small, focused bit and then allowing them to experience that in the real world by doing it for themselves. There’s no “adult day care,” and I tell them to select a real problem from their workplace — one that they’d like to improve, if not eliminate. •    I will let them revisit the training when I involve them in their waste walks or their trips to the gemba (their “go and see” walks). They go to the gemba in order to get the “three reals” — the real facts, the real problem and the real situation. I “connect the dots” for them during these walk-abouts.•    This is in addition to whatever cases, simulations, games, videos and other methods I bring that will let them revisit the training. I just don’t print out binders of the PowerPoint that they’ve already seen!•    For the VSM work, I will come back every other week to supervise the delivery of their lean implementation plans. This serves two purposes: First, it allows me to refresh them on the training, and secondly, it keeps the suggestions theirs and builds the lean culture, while keeping them on the correct path for lean deployment. I practise my Toyota leadership skills, demonstrating these skills for them to follow. 3.    How will they be able state lean savings in clear terms? I help them to state their savings in three ways:•    The first way is for when they want to share their results and savings in their department and throughout their facility. I show them how to state their savings in footsteps saved, defects reduced, time and motion saved and so on. I show them how to state these savings and make sure that they’ve got consistency right across the whole organization.•    The second way is for when they’ve got to present to the senior team. I show them how to spell out their savings, but also in the lingua franca of senior team members — often in dollars and cents.•    The third way I show them is reserved for when they’re making a capital request. I show them how to use the A3 as a business case. Basically, they make the argument in their A3s that the problem is costing them “X” dollars per year now, but if they were able to eliminate that problem, they would be saving “Y” dollars per year, along with all of the other savings. For those who are wondering what an A3 is, it’s the one piece of paper approach to telling the story of how you will improve something. If you can satisfy yourselves that you’ve got these few rudimentary questions answered, then you’re likely good to go. Remember that lean leaders will train during the downturn periods for their sector. In that way, they’ll be able to ride the recovery with a strengthened workforce. As you build your lean culture, you’ll find your savings will more than pay for your employees’ lean educations! These savings will come from decreased waste, wait times, defects and the like. If you want, you could think of these savings as adding capacity to your operation or recovering time that can be applied to other processes. Question from the floor Question: When I watch Toyota senseis, I am surprised. I expect them to follow the steps outlined in the TPS house — you know, 5S it, introduce stability and standard work up to problem solving and then put some tools to work. They don’t do it that way. What am I missing? Answer: The senseis will likely tell you that they’ve been dealing with the problems in the order that they appear. I believe that your experience with Toyota senseis differs from your TPS studies because the literature typically describes a plan of implementation of lean solutions and techniques. My experience as a sensei is that we do have broad roadmaps in our minds, but these are more about changing the culture rather than training people on specific tools or a specific technique. You’ll find that your biggest lean challenge is getting everyone’s head around basic problem-solving — getting them to understand their problems as a means of improving their processes and their work. My experience is that the projects they pick for you are rarely to your liking. This is about what they think you should learn as opposed to what you’d like to learn. Broadly speaking, the journey is about getting people’s attention first, then “cleaning the window” or “clearing the clouds” by focusing on quality, then getting into rough just-in-time conditions, at which point the real lean work can start in the form of challenging kaizen projects. From the bookshelf Poka-Yoke: Improving Product Quality by Preventing DefectsEdited by NKS/Factory Magazine I read a review of this book that said if your goal is to eliminate your defects, then this book is for you. I agree completely. The book is aimed at supervisors and shop-floor workers, but it’s really for everyone who wants to prevent anything from going wrong. I often tell people, “if it’s predictable, it’s preventable,” and that’s the spirit conveyed in this book. Poka-yoke, or mistake-proofing (sometimes also called error-proofing), works best if the suggestions come from those people closest to production — the employees doing the job. You can get help from engineering staff, tooling people or machine specialists, but the ideas come from those that do the work. This way you get lean buy-in, and one success often leads to another. The book is divided into two parts. The first section uses a simple, illustrated format to summarize many of the concepts and main features of poka-yoke. The second part is comprised of some 240 examples of poka-yoke improvements. Now these are all implemented in Japanese plants, but they should serve as very good examples of innovative problem-solving for facilities here. There’s even some sample improvement forms at the very back of the book for you to sketch out your own ideas. I’d like to see some poka-yoke examples from areas other than electronics, automotive, cameras and heavy industry — perhaps some back-office, agri-business, sales and other examples. Overall, this is a delight to read — simple but very effective.
The present version of the IEC 61158 standard includes 19 different protocols. However, while at an ISA meeting recently, I was approached by a Japanese organization about the addition of another, so I believe we will soon be up to 21 protocols in a single standard — and this is only for industrial processes.
I have often wondered, “What’s the big deal about safety? There can’t be that much to it!” In fact, I’ve actually said those words to Kevin Pauley, the Canadian manager for Pilz Automation and Safety, whom I have known forever. And that’s when he educates me.