Concept Systems Inc - Charlotte Integrators
8100 Arrowridge Blvd, Ste I Charlotte NC 28273 United States
Phone 1866-791-8140
  Main Organization  
  • 1957 Fescue Street Southeast, ALBANY, OR
    United States, 97322
    Phone541-791-8140
    Fax541-791-8130
Verified Partnerships
  Main Organization  
  • 1957 Fescue Street Southeast, ALBANY, OR
    United States, 97322
    Phone541-791-8140
    Fax541-791-8130
Latest Updates
  • 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.

  • 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
    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.
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