Optimistic. That’s how Manufacturing AUTOMATION’s editorial advisory board described the manufacturing industry in Canada back in June, and that same sentiment is reflected in the findings of our eighth annual Canadian Manufacturing Study.
Whether it’s designing a high-tech new vehicle or gaining new insight into the entire supply chain, Canadian manufacturers are turning to the latest software technology to stay competitive in the 21st century. These new tools now offer advanced functionality, deeper integration and a faster return on investment—and a whole lot more.
Want to know how these manufacturers met their challenges through software? Read on for their stories.
Autodesk: Digital prototyping opens the door to new product design
The Company: Since 1981, British Columbia-based manufacturer Weatherhaven has been a leading provider of portable shelters, camps and systems for remote sites around the world. The company engineers, manufactures and installs custom shelter systems for a wide variety of commercial, military and medical applications.
The Challenge: After winning a highly competitive contract from the Department of National Defence (DND) to replace an aging fleet of military trucks with complex container-based shelters, Weatherhaven embraced digital prototyping by standardizing on software tools such as Autodesk Inventor, a software solution within Autodesk Product Design Suite.
The Strategy: Weatherhaven has traditionally used Autodesk Product Design Suite to reduce the time required to create and deploy the shelters. The software helped quickly move the Medium Support Vehicle System (MSVS) project—which called for delivery of nearly 700 units—from prototyping through manufacturing, to production.
The software also paid additional dividends when Weatherhaven recently won the second half of the MSVS contract: equipping each container to serve as a distinct type of shelter (ranging from kitchens and bathrooms to medical and dental centers). The configuration work for each shelter type leveraged the designs from the first half of the contract—all of which was completed in Inventor software.
The Results: The positive ties between Weatherhaven and the DND have helped open doors for Weatherhaven with new customers. After the DND announced a procurement of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters, Boeing needed to quickly develop mobile facilities to support the helicopters. As a result, Boeing tasked Weatherhaven with the development and manufacturing of the specialized CH-47 support shelters—Weatherhaven’s first introduction into the aerospace industry. The process of collaboration and design review was made significantly easier by the use of Autodesk software.
“Autodesk Product Design Suite has given us the capability to engage with major aerospace companies in collaborative design projects, and pursue programs and develop products that we wouldn’t have thought possible before,” says Ryan Savenkoff, Weatherhaven special projects engineer.
Epicor: New ERP shines a light on lighting manufacturer's operations
The Company: CRS Electronics Inc., based in Welland, Ont., manufactures LED lighting products for commercial architectural applications.
The Challenge: Fast growth and rising sales opportunities with national commercial distributors put pressure on systems. New supply chain systems were required to manage international supply requirements and handle the challenges of long lead times and forecast planning. CRS Electronics also needed to meet the financial requirements and controls of being a publicly traded entity. Realizing that the company had outgrown its legacy software—a financially-centric software package—the management team began evaluating options to address their growth needs. Given the growth needs and the business timing of the move to a new system, CRS Electronics desired a fast implementation of 60 days.
The Strategy: After evaluating its vendor options, CRS Electronics decided to take a closer look at the next-generation Epicor enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, and teamed up with Epicor local partner Six S Partners for an in-depth review. Epicor was the only vendor who could address all scenarios and meet CRS Electronics’ unique requirements and implementation timeline.
Together with a tailored “quick start” implementation strategy, CRS Electronics was able to go live and get up and running on the core finance and supply chain aspects of the system, allowing them to meet the demands of their distribution and commercial client base. Following the Epicor best practices methodology for implementation carried out by Six S Partners, CRS Electronics is better enabled to increase and streamline its operational effectiveness in meeting the day-to-day challenges, and replace the individual spreadsheets and islands of information that were not previously integrated, shared effectively or properly controlled.
“Six S Partners was great at helping us understand the software and the best practices to meet our needs without limiting the flexibility for the future,” says Justin Koetsier, director of IT, CRS Electronics.
“The quick start program and knowledgeable consultants from Six S Partners guided our project to get us up and running effectively.”
Six S Partners takes a unique approach to the implementation that puts the customer in control of the amount of functionality that they wish to employ, along with the time, budget and scope elements. By managing the project with its Lean tools and leveraging the Epicor Signature Implementation Methodology, the customer’s assessment becomes the blueprint for the project success. By forging a strong partnership with its clients and ensuring clear expectations, the Six S Partners team is able to meet and exceed customer expectations within the budget and scope that was agreed upon.
“Every customer’s requirements are unique. For CRS Electronics, they were interested in a platform for growth—so getting results early was key,” says John Preiditsch, president and founder, Six S Partners. “Today, they are expanding and opening new markets and launching new products. By extending a systematic approach to the use of Epicor, we have already helped CRS Electronics realize the benefits of a standard package and best practices where most firms would have gone through the trials of manual or custom tools that would eventually need to be brought back in line with the organizational objectives and systems. Six S Partners has learned that regardless of customer size, sticking to the proven implementation process allows us to remain within scope and on budget.”
Key functional areas: All departments play a vested role in the information they put in the system. Epicor was instrumental in establishing a close connection between all business units inside CRS Electronics, from sales and finance to production and shipping. In addition to better collaboration, built-in functionality provides opportunities for continuous improvements and efficiencies across the entire organization, including forecasting, purchasing, bill of materials, job travelers and a comprehensive MRP system.
From an IT standpoint, Epicor is an intuitive and easy-to-use system. User-specific dashboards are easy to configure, which in practice means employees from different divisions, including finance, sales, shipping, purchasing and engineering, have access to information that is relevant to their job needs.
“New modules can be applied as we need them, and information stays behind a wall until we’re ready for it. We’re able to easily create dashboards to tailor information for the entire company so each department has the right information for their day-to-day work,” says Koetsier.
The Results: Coming in on time and under budget, Epicor was able to meet CRS Electronics’ challenging implementation timeline of just 60 days.
“With Epicor we now have world-class tools to manage our supply chain and improved operational controls in place,” says Koetsier. “Epicor provides us with a strong foundation for growth that allows our organization to manage international, multi-company operations in a challenging marketplace without adding overhead or office staff, which met the original mandate.”
“As we prepare to take a giant step forward marketing two new brands, each sold through different sales channel partners, promoted by separate regional sales management teams, and serviced via brand-specific inside sales co-ordinators, this ambitious upgrade is critical to providing industry-leading service,” says Travis Jones, president and CEO, CRS Electronics. “Six S Partners and the next-generation Epicor ERP solution are the perfect solution to meet our needs.”
Infor: Custom fabricator gets a streamlined approach to system management
The Company: Fabris Inc. is a highly specialized precision machine shop, manufacturer of custom engineered products and leader in custom-built equipment. Fabris Inc. is a global supplier servicing a wide variety of customers in the steel industry, as well as a provider of precision machined components to the power generation and oil & gas industries.
The Challenge: In 1995, Fabris Inc. began evaluating new enterprise applications because the company’s previous methods were becoming outdated—manual processes added on administration work and duplicated team efforts. This lack of visibility made order management and tracking tedious for employees, and was impacting the bottom line, in both time and money. The team at Fabris Inc. selected Infor VISUAL for a more streamlined approach to system management. Because of the software’s flexible architecture and scalability, it can easily evolve with the times and the changing needs of the business.
Most importantly, modernized scheduling capabilities are paramount. Infor VISUAL ensures the most efficient use of materials and resources and provides the necessary information to deliver products on time. The company has been able to translate business plans, including forecasted demand, into production plans using firm planned orders in a true multi-level, optional-component scheduling environment. Infor VISUAL also displays all key statistics on a single screen, helping to ensure that schedules are met, materials arrive on time, and costs are in line with estimates, and uses a scheduling concept which increases shop throughput without increasing overhead.
The Strategy: Every department is touched by Infor VISUAL, and Fabris Inc. has been using the application from start to finish in the sales and order fulfillment process. Sales teams use the estimating window to quote out jobs with real-time information to build quotes, and everything flows down from there. Those quotes turn into orders which flow to the appropriate teams. It continues to streamline the business and keep the teams confident that the data shown is accurate, helping to speed through orders and positively affect customer service.
Infor VISUAL provides a compelling visual presentation that shows how each part of the manufacturing process relates to the others—helping to resolve bottlenecks, schedule effectively and price jobs accurately.
The Results: Since implementation, Infor VISUAL has been able to streamline orders, create a more predictable process and generate greater revenue. Productivity continues to increase organization-wide and the teams are able to get much more work done with less people. Scheduling, which was one of the most critical components of decision-making, went from the 60th percentile in customer on-time delivery to now nearly 97 per cent.
The system automates key tasks and provides staff with direct information on what needs to be done. In addition, Fabris Inc. has lowered its scrap rate from 12 per cent to two per cent.
The company continues to update and upgrade the product since it was first purchased, so Infor VISUAL evolves as Fabris Inc. does and the company is still finding ways to better use the software to help challenges that are facing them today.
Omnify: Out-of-the-box PLM helps security company boost productivity
The Company: Genetec, Inc., located in Montreal, Que., is a pioneer in the physical security and public safety industry, and a global provider of world-class IP video surveillance, access control and license plate recognition (LPR) solutions to markets such as transportation, education, retail, gaming, government and more. The company was recently named one of the world's leading vendors of Video Management Software (VMS) by IHS Research.
The Challenge: Genetec had previously implemented an open-source Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system to replace the use of spreadsheets for managing product information. Although they did realize some improvements in their processes, they needed to find a new PLM solution to meet their requirements in an electronic manufacturing environment. They found with the open-source solution that minimum functionalities—such as intelligent reference designators, redlining, Bill of Material (BOM) compare and importing capabilities—had to be implemented via customization of the software. The time spent by software designers to customize the tool to meet their needs was extensive and counterproductive.
It was becoming important for Genetec to have the ability to catch product documentation problems early on, prior to manufacturing, and to have a complete history of the changes for accountability. Genetec needed a PLM system that delivered robust, out-of-the-box functionality, including: electronic management of part data, engineering changes, BOMs, and product documentation that did not require customization to implement. They also needed a system that offered easy integration with their existing engineering design tools (Altium Designer and SolidWorks) and the ability to interface with their ERP system (MS Dynamics)—at a price that made sense for their organization.
The Strategy: “After looking at some very expensive PDM-style software from large corporations well known for their CAD systems, and also looking at Oracle Agile, we quickly nailed it down to Omnify Software,” states Danny Roy, hardware development manager for Genetec, Inc. “Ultimately, we were impressed by how easy the software was to use and the amount of functionality offered out-of-the-box.”
“Migrating all of our legacy data from the previous system to Omnify Empower PLM went seamlessly with the help of our assigned Omnify project engineer,” says Roy. “We had minimal time to invest on our side, and we were able to quickly import the data and start using the system with only one day of downtime.”
The primary goal of implementing the Empower PLM solution was to fill the voids of their previous tools in order to make engineering processes, such as new part creation, completely automated and more formal.
“Previously, MCOs/ECOs were processed in Excel, even while using the old PLM system, because it did not provide redlining functionality to easily visualize the details of product changes,” notes Roy.
Another goal was to improve visibility across the organization with regards to hardware product changes. This process was in place for software, but not for hardware. Omnify Empower allows Genetec to automatically notify appropriate parties of the intended changes and when they become released.
“We already see the benefits with this aspect of the tool and it is not even considered fully deployed, as we still have plans to make use of task assignment features and giving viewing abilities to other groups, such as technical documentation, in order to continuously improve the awareness across the organization and foster team communication,” says Roy.
The integration with Altium Designer enables electronics designers to browse existing parts inside the Omnify Empower database directly from within their Altium environment. This promotes team collaboration by enforcing official library management for part symbols/footprints. Designers can quickly determine if they need to create a new part in Omnify Empower, and then get immediate access to it in Altium during the approval process.
BOMs can be exported from Altium and imported into Omnify easily and quickly, due to pre-configured mapping. When a schematic is modified, an Engineering Change Order (ECO) is issued directly from a new BOM out of Altium, and redlining on the existing products is automatically generated.
“The loop is closed and efficient,” says Roy. “Omnify feeds Altium with parts, Altium feeds Omnify with design/assembly information such as BOMs and drawings, and then Omnify confirms visually any change that was implemented in Altium at the schematics level.”
The process is similar with SolidWorks, except that parts are not browsed directly from within the SolidWorks environment. The process is performed via a BOM export/import and accurate field mapping.
“We are targeting to reach full integration with SolidWorks in the next few months by using the Omnify CAD toolkit, which will allow SolidWorks to push a BOM directly into Omnify,” notes Roy. “Since the highest level BOM in the hierarchy is a mechanical assembly, for most of our products, SolidWorks has control over the final end-assembly details through its native PDM vault for progressive versioning during development. Once the design is ready to release to production, SolidWorks pushes this official released version (assembly) to Omnify and makes manufacturing documentation available to the NPI/production group.”
The Results: Productivity has increased greatly since implementing Empower PLM with notable improvements in data quality and time savings. With Empower PLM, Genetec has transitioned to a completely automated system for managing product documentation and changes, and eliminated the need to partially manage processes in Excel spreadsheets. This environment removed the data integrity issues commonly associated with hand-entering information into spreadsheets.
For the engineering group, the more formal and thorough part creation process now in place addresses issues early on. Parts are verified via an automated approval process before they are released and propagated to outside sub-contractors. Communications between the NPI/production group and engineering group has improved, with guided workflow approvals and easier traceability of product versions.
Eliminating the need to customize the system or perform partially manual processes has saved the company a significant amount of time and money.
A design engineer is now able to import a large BOM (electronic board or mechanical assembly) into Omnify Empower, easily and within seconds.
Genetec’s previous PLM system required a cut and paste, item by item. Furthermore, Empower PLM offers the ability to compare BOMs between different, but similar flavours of the product, to quickly confirm that the new product version has been correctly implemented.
“Overall we executed close to 90 changes over the course of nine months, and I could not imagine performing those changes via manual formatting in Excel,” says Roy. “We have realized huge organizational benefits compared to our previous open-source PLM/Excel process, including time-savings, improved data with completely automated processes, enhanced communication and traceability of product change history.”
Siemens PLM: Advanced CAD/CAM software speeds up design of a high-tech vehicle
The Company: The Composites Innovation Centre Manitoba Inc. (CIC) is a leading not-for- profit organization focused on the development and commercialization of composite materials and technologies. Based in Winnipeg, CIC employs a staff of 26 at its 21,000 square-foot facility. The facility includes laboratory space for composite material characterization and a prototype assembly area, in addition to office locations for digital design and analysis activities.
The Challenge: Motive Industries, a respected design outfit, approached the team at CIC for assistance in developing a fiber-reinforced plastic passenger car. Dubbed Kestrel, the vehicle is underpinned by an aluminum frame and powered by a hybrid drivetrain. CIC was called in to incorporate exotic bio-fibers, including flax and hemp, into the body of the vehicle.
Engineers at CIC used multiple tools for geometry preparation and analysis of composite structures. Despite being functional, this computer-aided design (CAD)/computer-aided engineering (CAE) approach was time-consuming and repetitive due to the disconnected nature of the tools themselves. Engineers at CIC wanted a more cohesive workflow and the productivity benefits it would bring. After evaluating numerous systems, they decided on Siemens PLM Software’s NX software for its tightly integrated design and simulation environment.
The Strategy: The goal with Kestrel was to create parts that were as light as possible without compromising structural integrity. This meant frequent design-analysis iterations to be certain this delicate balance was being met across the entire vehicle assembly. The seamless associativity between design geometry and analysis models using NX allowed design changes to be quickly pushed to analysis models, with no need for manual updating.
The Results: With NX in place, engineers at CIC are taking on increasingly complex projects and exploring a greater number of design variants, while delivering results to their clients in record time. Whether it’s down-selecting from a wide range of initial options or verifying and optimizing the performance of a more mature concept, NX represents a single, integrated digital solution for accomplishing this swiftly and intuitively.
The use of NX helped the CIC team secure dramatic weight reductions on the Kestrel project without compromising the safety or durability of the vehicle. The ability to evaluate such a wide range of design variables in a very competitive timeframe allowed them to maximize the use of lightweight biofiber composite materials in the design.
“The switch to NX software allowed us to perform design and analysis projects that would have previously been impossible,” says Alastair Komus, principal engineer responsible for the ground transportation sector at CIC. “The efficiency with which we can make design changes and verify their performance has dramatically increased.”
Sage: Communications company "goes big" with new ERP system
The Company: iS5 Communications, based in Mississauga, Ont. designs, manufactures, installs and services network routing equipment for use in harsh environments, such as those encountered in the utility, transportation, industrial, military and surveillance industries. While the company is young, its management team is a tenured group of professionals in this field.
The Challenge: As a new company, iS5 Communications already had complex needs and sought a powerful ERP solution that offered all the required functionality in an integrated, scalable offering.
The Strategy: “I have used many ERP applications during my career, including Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics,” says Clive Dias, president and CEO of iS5 Communications. “What always plagued these applications was the lack of integration. None of them offered all the tools we needed in a single system; we used other add-on applications to provide the necessary functionality. ”
Dias sought to avoid integration challenges when selecting ERP software for his enterprise. A trusted, long-term business partner recommended Sage ERP X3.
“It offers everything we were looking for in one application,” Dias says. “We have manufacturing, product configurator, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), service issue tracking, remote access, multicurrency, strong core accounting and financial reporting capabilities in one powerful product.”
The Results: With the help of its business partner, iS5 launched the accounting and financial reporting modules of Sage ERP X3 quickly. Currently, the team is planning for the deployment of the balance of the solution, including the manufacturing, distribution and CRM components.
“We are fortunate to have an experienced, knowledgeable partner to help us deploy the software,” says Dias. “They are well organized and are keeping the project on schedule.”
The end result means iS5 Communications has a solution that will scale with it for years to come. All required functionality is available in the product, eliminating the need to purchase and maintain multiple applications.
Syspro: New ERP lets manufacturer see operations clearly
The Company: Since 1975, Multi-Glass Insulation Ltd. has been distributing and fabricating insulation systems and energy-conservation building materials to the commercial, industrial and residential construction markets. Multi-Glass is headquartered in Brampton, Ont., and maintains branches in Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal, Dartmouth, Saint John, N.B. and St. John's, Newfoundland.
The Challenge: Nasser Ahmed, Multi-Glass's operations manager, has been with the company for eight years. “In former jobs, I used a variety of ERPs,” says Ahmed, “including AS400 and SAP. When I joined Multi-Glass, the company was running its operations on ACCPAC and Excel. There were problems with our basic business processes, such as production, planning and scheduling. As luck would have it, my boss at the time was aware of the difficulties, and I was hired in time to assist with the implementation of Syspro ERP.”
Alex Wannan, Multi-Glass's former corporate controller, explains the chain of events that led to the choice of Syspro. “Multi-Glass acquired a company in Atlantic Canada that used Syspro on a Unix system,” says Wannan. “They hadn't upgraded in a long time. It took us 12 updates to arrive at the Windows environment with SQL. We still weren't sure we should roll it out, so we performed an ROI, and told the Board that the system did 86 per cent of everything we needed. We were in acquisition mode at the time, and the Board didn't want to spend money on an ERP when a suitable one might be acquired. In light of the ROI, however, a budget was approved for the roll-out of Syspro over the rest of the company.”
The Strategy: In fact, says Wannan, the roll-out only cost Multi-Glass one quarter of the approved budget.
“We simplified the process by starting fresh and not carrying over the history, and two or three of us set it up over a weekend. While we were at it, we made a good number of internal process changes. The Atlantic company had been fighting the system. We realized that Syspro is an extremely well-designed ERP, and we changed Multi-Glass's business processes to match it. In the end, we spent very little money and it worked almost immediately. A year later, we rolled it back over the Atlantic company and they changed their processes to match Syspro's business logic as well. These roll-outs had a profound effect on the way Multi-Glass does business, and we realized a return on our investment in months.”
The Results: “The improvement in our efficiency started from Order Entry,” says Ahmed. “In the past, incoming orders were written up by hand. After shipping they would be invoiced through ACCPAC. That almost guaranteed that our inventory was never accurate. Today, with Syspro, everything is live—orders go straight into Syspro, packing slips are automatically printed, and everything that's shipped today gets invoiced today. A day's work in a day is our process motto, and that works well with the way Syspro wants to do business. We can now easily go back and pinpoint our errors, and quickly disseminate relevant data to the employees who need to make informed decisions. This means, for example, that Customer Service can provide accurate promise dates to the customer while live with them on the phone.”
“Once Multi-Glass had changed its internal processes to match Syspro's way of thinking,” says Wannan, “purchasers were able to trust the Syspro MRP for buying decisions, and the company's inventory turns improved beyond our targets. Eight years ago, Multi-Glass was doing half the turns it's doing today.”
Higher turns reflected the improved efficiency of Multi-Glass's inventory investment, and led to reductions in stagnant inventory, and in the square feet required for storage.
“One of the hardest things to get used to is the new low level of inventory,” says Wannan. “People would walk into our warehouse and wonder if we were going out of business. One of the things we discovered, once Syspro was in place, was that Multi-Glass was stocking a fair bit of inventory just to make our customers feel comfortable that we could meet their demands. Over time, we extended our trust of Syspro to them (largely by constantly meeting our promised delivery dates), and we were able to lower our inventory while still maintaining their level of comfort.”
As with any major corporate change, Multi-Glass's personnel were initially cautious.
“It took our employees awhile to become comfortable with the new processes,” admits Ahmed. “In time, however, they came to appreciate the value of Syspro, and we now have total team commitment. Today, we're using about 65 per cent of Syspro, including Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, General Ledger, Inventory, Analysis and Work Orders. We haven't had time to implement the Financial Reporting and Job Quote modules yet, but we plan to very soon.”
According to Ahmed, the final part of the transition to Syspro involved eliminating the need for Excel.
“That took a couple years, but the more Excel we got rid of, and the more we relied on Syspro for our business processes, the better our overall decision-making became. We analyse our transactions on a daily basis now. Every transaction is reviewed, and exceptions are examined, whereas we used to have to wait for our financial statements to see that something irregular occurred.”
“Syspro ERP is critical to Multi-Glass's profitability,” concludes Wannan. “It can be very hard to quantify ROI, but now, even in years with lower sales figures, Multi-Glass is profitable. Giving our employees a tool as powerful as Syspro has made a major difference.”
“Overall,” says Ahmed, “Syspro's been awesome. I'd recommend it to anyone in a similar line of business.”
For more case studies on how Syspro ERP is helping manufacturers simplify their success, visit www.syspro.com/syspro-manufacturing.
SolidWorks: Bike component manufacturer rides high with new CAD software
The Company: Dennis and DJ Paulson are mountain bike riders who wanted to go faster, higher and longer than possible with conventional bicycle components. So the brothers, who co-own the Straightline Precision Industries machining business in Victoria, B.C., started making their own gear and offered it to their friends. Their extra-rugged, custom-designed bicycle components became so popular with friends and extreme riders that the brothers launched the Straightline Components brand.
The Challenge: Today, Straightline Components has become the choice of professional stunt, BMX, dirt and slope-style mountain bike riders. For example, one of the company’s products—a hydraulic brake line detangler, which allows handlebars to spin without tangling brake lines—was featured on the Edge Factor TV show in an episode entitled “Gnarly Metal.” Using this custom-designed component, professional rider Mike Montgomery won the Jumpship Dirt jump competition.
Straightline’s transformation from machine shop to bicycle part manufacturer presented challenges and required a different development approach than the previous solution used on early designs. “Our breakthrough product was a durable pedal that uses polymer bushings to provide a more stable platform for landing,” DJ Paulson recalls. “While that product was very successful, we realized that we would need a 3D development platform to expand our product offering and take our operation to the next level.”
The Strategy: Straightline is all about high-performance, so the Paulsons understood how a 3D parametric CAD system and integrated simulation capabilities could help them. “We need to work with expensive materials, such as titanium, and refine our strength and weight ratios without relying on cost-prohibitive prototyping. Almost all our machining customers use SolidWorks design software from Dassault Systèmes, and we’d had such a good experience machining their parts—because the geometry is a lot cleaner on SolidWorks models—that we decided to move to SolidWorks,” says DJ Paulson.
“We switched to SolidWorks because we had witnessed the migration from 2D to 3D among our customers,” DJ Paulson notes. “Everyone we spoke with said SolidWorks was the easiest to-use 3D package and represented the best combination of power and value. We did a trial with a competing solution just to make sure, but in the end, we agreed with what our customers told us. SolidWorks is the best solution to help us advance product development.”
The Results: Since moving to SolidWorks, Straightline has cut in half the time and cost associated with physical prototyping. Instead of machining actual parts for visualization and testing, the brothers can accomplish those functions in a virtual design environment.
Working in the SolidWorks 3D environment also allows Straightline to use 3D design imagery to market and showcase the technology behind its products. On Edge Factor, Straightline was able to show an animation of a fluid dynamics simulation conducted to ensure that seals on the hydraulic brake line detangler were leak proof.
“SolidWorks simulation capabilities allowed us to put the hydraulic brake line detangler through its paces—all on the computer screen—ensuring that it was safe and effective before Mike Montgomery attempted his first stunt, jump, or ride,” Dennis Paulson says.
This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.
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.
Fast oscilloscopes offer a window into the complex behavior of high-speed systems – the faster the oscilloscope, the faster and more complex things can be designed and built. The 100 GHz bandwidth limit for real-time oscilloscopes is a speed previously thought unattainable and represents a milestone in instrument performance, but this demonstration by Teledyne LeCroy shows it can be achieved.
Unitronics recently introduced the newest members of its Vision350 PLC+HMI family- flat fascia Vision350 units. With their IP66/IP65/NEMA4X rating, these units are recommended wherever spray/wipe down applications apply. With a wide variety of onboard, and expandable I/O options, these new units are capable of supporting up to 512 I/O. These configurations include digital and analog inputs and outputs, high-speed I/O, PT100/Thermocouple capabilities, and weight measurement. The I/O can be mounted locally or remotely, up to 1000m from the controller. These power-PLCs are equipped with recipe capabilities, Micro SD card memory storage for data logging and back up, complete PLC cloning and more. Communication options include Ethernet, cellular, and industrial protocols such as MODBUS, DF1 slave, J1939, CANopen and more. In addition, the Vision350 units can be ‘taught’ to communicate via almost any ASCII protocol. The controller is also capable of time based and immediate interrupts, making it a natural for ‘rapid response’ applications such as packaging machines.
SoftPLC Corporation's Smart SoftPLC and Smart Gateway products now support up to (2) channels of Allen-Bradley Data Highway Plus (DH+) protocol. A Smart Gateway is designed to provide a smooth upgrade of HMIs and other devices that need to communicate to A-B PLCs on a DH+ network, but have no DH+ interface. Smart Gateways provide numerous modern Ethernet, serial and fieldbus protocols for the HMI, driver or other device. The Smart Gateway then communicates over DH+ to the A-B PLCs seamlessly. No changes are required to the existing cabling, A-B PLC's, the A-B PLC programming, or other devices on the DH+. A Smart SoftPLC can also control A-B Remote I/O. Users can upgrade existing A-B PLC systems without replacing or re-wiring the I/O or changing the DH+ network wiring. A Smart SoftPLC or Smart Gateway can support any mix of DH+, RIO Master, RIO Slave on (2) channels simultaneously.
With Automation Studio 4, B&R Automation says it has forged a new path when it comes to smart engineering. Project modularization is one area in Automation Studio 4 that allows individual projects to be split up into manageable pieces so that several developers can work on them at the same time. For consistent and uniform development of mechanics, electronics and automation software, Automation Studio 4 comes equipped with an interface to EPLAN Electric P8, which allows ECAD projects and the hardware configuration in Automation Studio to be synchronized. Similar interfaces to simulation programs make it possible to verify the results of development or, conversely, to use the results of simulation as a starting point for system design. Communication via OPC Unified Architecture provides compatibility with numerous systems from other manufacturers, while direct support of Web technologies simplifies the development of visualization, process monitoring and remote diagnostic applications.
Canadian companies that focus on expanding into competitive global markets outside of North America—and orient their innovation efforts to compete globally—reap the best bottom-line results. However, only about one-sixth of Canadian firms adopt an innovation strategy that focuses on competing in international markets, according to “2012 Survey Findings: The State of Firm-Level Innovation in Canada,” published by The Conference Board of Canada's Centre for Business Innovation.
"Few companies pick the most successful innovation strategy of expanding to provide products and services to new international markets, even though these firms earn between 10 and 30 per cent more net income than their counterparts using other approaches," said Bruce Good, executive director of the Centre for Business Innovation. "Most Canadian firms prefer to operate within provincial or national borders—or in North America—rather than competing in international markets."
Yaskawa Motoman has released a new STEM Robotics Platform for education and workforce development. A general-purpose platform and a welding education cell are available. The new STEM Robotics Platform offers a selection of pre-engineered robotic solutions that meet the requirements of secondary educational programs focused on advanced manufacturing and robotics. The standard configurations and available options provide a package of leading technologies typically encountered in manufacturing environments, including components provided by the Yaskawa Motoman Education Consortium (YMEC). Educators can purchase a complete package or components to build a custom education system that best fits planned course work and classroom layout.
AutomationDirect’s NITRA line of pneumatics products has been extended to include more models of air preparation components (FRL), soft-start/dump valves, and distribution blocks. NITRA pneumatic air FRLs are available in 1/8 to 1-inch NPT female port sizes to support a broad range of pneumatic air supply applications. The modular design allows stand-alone applications or easy field assembly for combining the NITRA air preparation components (using assembly brackets purchased separately). AF Series air filters are available with a polycarbonate bowl or all-metal bowl with sight gauge and feature 40 micron replaceable filter elements as standard with 5 micron filter elements optional. The ASD Series soft-start/dump valves are aluminum bodied valves available in 1/8”, 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2” NPT female port sizes with 120VAC and 24VDC solenoids. These three-port, two-position soft-start valves allow pneumatic components to be pressurized slowly for safety and control when the valve solenoid is energized. The valves can be mounted alone with the included steel bracket or easily mount to an FRL using an optional bracket. Equipped with manual override and LED indication, start-up speed is fully adjustable and an integrated square gauge is included to monitor system pressure. The ADB series distribution blocks are available in 1/8”, 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2” NPT female port sizes and feature two through-ports and two same-size NPT branch ports. Used to divide air stream between FRL components, the modular design enables easy field assembly with NITRA FRLs.