Concept Systems Inc. Integrators
1957 Fescue Street Southeast ALBANY OR 97322 United States
Phone 1541-791-8140
Phone 3541-791-8140
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  • Concept Systems Inc. shared an update
    PostedTuesday, May 17,2016 at 4:26 PM

    No matter where robotics might take you next, a collaborative R&D approach can help realize what needs to be accomplished.

    Have you noticed how ubiquitous robots are becoming? We’re used to seeing them in manufacturing environments welding car frames, assembling circuit boards or palletizing boxes, yet these days you can even find them pouring drinks on a cruise ship, moving LED screens at a concert or solving a Rubik’s cube.

    We recently worked with two different startup companies with a vision for new product niches. Both lacked the manufacturing process knowledge to bring their ideas to life, and were stymied because there were no established norms to follow or OEMs with standard solutions. Their search led them to us because of our broad industry experience in constructing automation solutions, but more specifically because of our reputation for taking on challenging robotic automation projects. And trust me, neither of these are industries an automation solution provider would traditionally target.


  • Concept Systems Inc. shared an update
    PostedTuesday, April 5,2016 at 5:42 PM
    Manufacturing environments are busy, and avoiding collisions between robots and operators is a high priority. As more manufacturers add robots, there’s increasing interest in ensuring they work safely with each other and with people.
    The robotics industry can take pride in its impressive safety record with more than 1.5 million industrial robots operating worldwide, according to Carole Frank, safety director for the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). As robotic applications increase, it’s vital to continue to be vigilant about robotic safety. In fact, risk assessment is now required by new safety regulations: ISO 10218-1 and -2 delineate safety requirements for robots, replacing ANSI/RIA R15.06.
    The robotics industry can take pride in its impressive safety record with more than 1.5 million industrial robots operating worldwide, according to Carole Frank, safety director for the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). As robotic applications increase, it’s vital to continue to be vigilant about robotic safety. In fact, risk assessment is now required by new safety regulations: ISO 10218-1 and -2 delineate safety requirements for robots, replacing ANSI/RIA R15.06.
    Many robots are certified by a third-party source or approved by their manufacturers. That’s good, but it’s also important to be sure the robot is safe in its surrounding environment. So take a holistic approach and evaluate each industrial application rather than each device separately.
    Basically, you want to identify risk sources, estimate the risk, evaluate it, and determine if the risk is acceptable or needs to be mitigated. A risk tree can help you rate each of these parameters: severity of injury, frequency of exposure to hazard, and the possibility of avoiding a hazard. If you’re unfamiliar with the detailed, iterative process of a risk assessment, a systems integrator can provide this service.
    MORE >>>
    Collision Avoidance Key to Operator and Robot Safety | Concept Systems
    Manufacturing environments are busy, and avoiding collisions between robots and operators is a high priority. As more manufacturers add robots, there’s
  • Concept Systems Inc. shared an update
    PostedThursday, December 10,2015 at 4:18 PM
    Albany, Ore. (December 10, 2015) – Concept Systems received the 2016 System Integrator of the Year from CFE Media for its accomplishments in developing and installing complex manufacturing automation solutions for companies across a wide range of industries. The award was announced today and was presented at the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute in Chicago last month. “We view the 2016 System Integrator of the Year award as a testament to our 80 employees who use state-of-the-art automation technologies to solve manufacturing problems,” said Michael Gurney, Concept Systems’ CEO. Given annually by CFE Media, the award recognizes business skills, technical competence, and customer satisfaction. Winners are inducted into the System Integrator Hall of Fame. This is the second time Concept has won the award; the first was in 2007. Only two other companies were honored with the award this year. “Concept Systems’ submission is the best I have seen in all the years of judging this competition,” said Don Roberts, principal at Exotec, LLC. “I am certain it is a good reflection of how they serve their customers.” CFE Media notes that Concept has built a reputation as a problem-solver in industries as diverse as aerospace, pulp and paper, building products, food and beverage, and metals. “Our success can be attributed to our employees and their deep understanding of automation technologies,” Gurney said. “We also collaborate well with companies that share our passion for continuous improvement,” Gurney said. “That passion includes treating employees well, taking safety seriously, and adhering to strict quality standards. Those are key elements for our success, as well as customers’ success.” Concept Systems, a CSIA certified member, provides automated solutions that improve efficiency, yield, and worker safety across manufacturing lines worldwide. Concept Systems is dedicated to providing clients with cutting-edge solutions that support complex retrofits, vision and robotic solutions and plant-wide Main Automation Contractor projects. Founded in 1999, Concept has offices in Albany, Ore., Charlotte, NC, Denver, Colo., and Seattle, Wash. and employs 79 people. CFE Media publishes Control Engineering, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Oil & Gas Engineering and Plant Engineering on a monthly basis to more than 365,000 qualified subscribers. CFE, which is an acronym for “Content for Engineers,” provides engineers in manufacturing, commercial and industrial buildings, and manufacturing control systems with the knowledge they need to improve their operational efficiency. It sponsors the System Integrators of the Year award.
  • Concept Systems Inc. shared an update
    PostedTuesday, June 23,2015 at 4:00 PM

    Elimination of physical barriers to production equipment is key to improving productivity. To get started, however, you must begin with a safety assessment.
    In my last several blogs, I wrote about the importance of developing an Automation Roadmap and how to create one for yourself. I am wrapping up the sequence with two topics that often fall off the radar during planning—your network infrastructure and safety. In my last blog, I went into detail about the network side of things. This blog addresses the importance of considering safety at the planning stage.
    Manufacturing processes and operational intelligence have benefitted from the rapid advance of technology. Safety has, too. Historically, the most common way to safeguard workers in and around manufacturing equipment was to provide physical barriers between workers and operating equipment. While this type of safety system both provides for safe operation and maintenance as well as meets the appropriate codes, it limits productivity.
    Physical guarding must be removed to access the equipment, which is important in every manufacturing process, whether it is for changing a product over, clearing a jam, or performing routine maintenance. Precious manufacturing time is lost while workers remove and replace guarding and ensure the proper interlocks are in place. I would be remiss if I did not mention that many interlock systems also require significant maintenance.
    Modern safety technology presents the opportunity for significant productivity gains without sacrificing reliability. It is a matter of opening up the processing line, providing better access and equipment visibility. These technologies do not require physical barriers, yet they provide the same—if not better—level of safety. These include light curtains, laser scanners and area (3D) scanners, all of which can be integrated with existing equipment. Additionally, certain equipment, like collaborative robots, now have safety already integrated.
    So, how do you get started? Schedule a safety assessment. This will tell you whether or not your operations are safe. It represents a proactive approach to keeping workers safe around your operations. Before you proceed with the assessment, be sure you are committed to acting on the results. Otherwise, the assessment is not a good investment.
    Many systems integrators, automation solution providers and safety component manufacturers offer this service. A safety assessment audits your existing processing lines to determine the risks that are present and identify measures in place to protect personnel from those risks.
        Today, technologies exist that do not require physical barriers, yet they provide the same—if not better—level of safety.
    As part of the assessment, every operation in your plant will be assigned a risk category, which takes into account the potential severity of injury and the likelihood of occurrence, as well as other factors. This will dictate the level of protection required around that operation. Any existing deficiencies will be highlighted. Your immediate focus should be to address these deficiencies as quickly as possible, as these represent a potential liability for your company.
    After the deficiencies are addressed, the risk category, which is the key component of the safety assessment, should be used in your planning. When planning upgrades, include this information and let your integrator know that you want to use modern safety technology to provide better operator and maintenance accessibility. By doing this, your requested budget will likely increase, and, if you read my previous blogs, you know that you need to include a return on investment analysis to establish your budget. Luckily this analysis should be pretty straightforward, as it’s a simple assessment of access time, how often access is required, and the cost of downtime. Having better visibility is an indirect benefit and something that needs to be considered by application, but always be on the lookout for ways to better identify downtime causes and/or prevent downtime.
    Safety is one of the hidden gems of the technology boom. It provides several bangs for your buck: greater safety reliability, increased productivity and, most importantly, a proactive way to minimize unplanned costs stemming from unsafe operations and resulting injuries.
    An ROI Approach to Budgeting | Concept Systems
    Detailed evaluation of anticipated return on investment for each prioritized project helps gain project approval and maximize project results. In my last two
  • Concept Systems Inc. shared an update
    PostedMonday, February 2,2015 at 12:29 PM

    Because the use of vision technologies on the plant floor can give you a competitive advantage, here are the key issues to consider when looking for the right vision system. How viable is vision technology on the plant floor? On the surface, when you look at the technology and the capabilities it seems like vision should be as common as the programmable logic controller (PLC) and the human-machine interface (HMI). If you think about the technology and its ability to “see” the environment and make decisions based on what it sees, the applications are boundless. Despite its clear advantages, the use of vision technology on the plant floor is not as commonplace as most people would imagine. Why is that? I believe the main reasons are: 1.) The supporting technology behind the camera; and 2.) Camera installations are often viewed as being not very robust. If you know vision, you know that lighting and lensing are the keys to a successful camera installation. Get that right and things work marvelously. Get it wrong, and everything grinds to a halt. Therein lies the problem. Generally, when you buy a vision system, the brilliant folks you bought it from will come out, set it up, and everything works great. They leave and the camera gets bumped, or parts start feeding differently, and everything goes haywire. Then come the questions: Did we get trained on how to calibrate the camera? Do we have the software tools to adjust for this shadowing? Did anyone grab the business card from the guy who installed the camera? We need him out here, now! If you are not considering vision technology, there is a good chance your competition is and gaining a competitive advantage over you. To avoid this scenario, it’s important to take the steps necessary to put a solid system in place behind the camera to build robustness into the vision system. This typically involves going beyond the software package and tools that may come with the camera system and that you can program yourself. I’m talking about ensuring that the camera is tailored for your application and environment. This level of robustness, however, does come at a cost. More advanced analysis tools will buy you more flexibility in part and camera placement, as well as more tolerance to variations in lighting. All of these factors lead to a more robust system, which means your system is up and running and bringing the return on investment you were counting on when you bought the system. With this end goal in mind, where do you start? How do you gauge what is a good fit for vision? Here is a quick list of some applications to get the wheels turning: • Part and package inspection: Look for the presence or absence of specific features for this type of inspection. Do not let part presentation be a showstopper for you. With the advanced tools of vision, many of these issues can be overcome even with randomly placed parts. • Part identification: The system should be able to identify the part type in mixed-feed applications to sort them. • Part location and orientation: The camera should be able to identify the part in 2D or even 3D space to be acted upon by an ancillary system, e.g., drilling, grinding, painting, picked up (bin-picking) or rejected. • Part state: The ability to identify the heat signature of a part is important. Can the vision system determine: If the part has been consistently heated? How long it has been out of the oven? Did the part reach curing temperature? Another critical factor to consider is the environment. It is important with vision technology that there be a certain level of cleanliness, or at least the ability to keep the camera lens clean so that it can “see” the part. If in doubt, contact a system integrator with vision expertise who will know what to look for in qualifying an application. A good source for qualified integrators is the CSIA Exchange. If you are not yet considering the use of vision technology, there is a good chance your competition is and gaining a competitive advantage over you. With the advance of laser scanning, near-IR and millimeter wave camera technology coming into the industrial scene, the competitive gap between those using vision technology and those that are not only promises to widen.
  • Concept Systems Inc. shared an update
    PostedTuesday, November 25,2014 at 4:10 PM

    Read how consumer products are impacting factory automation like never before. The IoT revolution in the home is outpacing the Industrial IoT revolution, iPads and other tablets are showing up as HMIs, and cell phone camera technology is disrupting the machine vision space. This blog talks about how another living room technology, the DVR, can be leveraged to bridge the experience gap.
  • Concept Systems Inc. shared an update
    PostedWednesday, October 29,2014 at 11:32 AM

    Your plant floor data is a repository of informational gold. Have you started digging yet? Data collection and analysis can be used in a variety of ways, but for this column I would like to focus on maintenance. Though maintenance may not seem as exciting as all the other production improvement possibilities, I find maintenance to be an often overlooked aspect of manufacturing which can lead to costly, unscheduled downtime and quickly swamp any incremental gains in production improvements. Maintenance programs tend to fall into one of three categories: Fix It When It Breaks. This barely qualifies as a program, but there are many folks out there who operate in this fashion. It represents a very expensive way to run a manufacturing facility, as virtually every maintenance event results in that undesirable, expensive unscheduled downtime. Periodic Maintenance. This is the most common maintenance program and consists of periodically servicing equipment based on an educated guess as to how long it takes things to wear. This period is generally settled on over time, meaning you have to be burned a few times by unscheduled downtime before you are able to settle on a period that takes into account all the failure modes of the piece of equipment. The problem with periodic maintenance is that, to be effective, the period is based on the worst-case scenario and you end up over-maintaining your equipment most of the time. The idea is to add sensors and technology to equipment to predict problems and trigger maintenance prior to any real trouble. Preventive Maintenance. This is becoming more common. We are hearing it being considered mosy often in applications where the control system is used to monitor events in the system (e.g., motor runtime, counting strokes on a cylinder, or cycle counts on contactors), which is then cross-checked to manufacturers’ recommended maintenance schedules which triggers maintenance for that piece of equipment. This represents a great maintenance program, but I would suggest it still leaves room for improvement—as manufacturers’ specifications are generally conservative and do not always take into account the application of the equipment. Looking at these three common practices, there are some very obvious holes ... which means there is significant opportunity for uptime and cost improvements with a better way. The better way is Proactive Maintenance. The idea here is to add sensors and technology to equipment to predict problems and trigger maintenance prior to any real trouble. Advances in sensor, networking and processing technology has made this possible. There is a sensor out there for most every application, networking them is a breeze, and memory is cheap, so storing the data is a straightforward proposition. It then becomes a matter of building the monitoring/notification system, which I would suggest could be handled by any reputable automation solution provider. Some straightforward examples of this type of maintenance data collection include: vibration monitors on bearing sets, monitoring motor temperature/current, pressure monitoring across filters, and tension monitoring on chains/conveyors. With this data, it becomes a matter of establishing some set-points/tolerances to issue notifications to the proper personnel. In certain applications, more advanced monitoring could be required that would drive the need for a statistical process control (SPC) system or other advanced algorithms to predict failure is looming. Either way, with proper design and consideration, criteria can be established for any piece of equipment to ensure maintenance is happening at the right time, rather than being based on an arbitrary time/cycle count. Now to take things a little further, with the “Internet of Things” concept, notifying the proper personnel can be more than a pop-up window on your maintenance supervisor’s desk. What about automatically generating a purchase order to your local vendor for the parts that are going to be required for the work? How about an order automatically emailed to your local service provider to schedule the work? This represents a significant deviation from the standard way of doing business, but the technology exists to handle maintenance and service in this fashion, essentially connecting the data on the plant floor to the people that can take action on it. With the right information, well ahead of a failure, you can make better decisions on how to handle an equipment problem rather than reacting when the pressure is on. Like I said, there is informational gold in all that data, it is time to start digging and collecting the data. Michael Gurney is CEO of Concept Systems Inc., a Certified member of the Control System Integrators Association.