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Innovative Thinking

Dumm Contactors & Dumm Relays

 

Contactors and relays are switches that allow control of a system by opening and closing under power. There are two major components that make up these devices: a coil and contacts. When a small current is applied to the coil, it creates a magnetic field that pulls a contact into the opposite position. The contacts come as either normally open (NO) or normally closed (NC) and they allow different control states within a circuit. A normally open contact on a relay doesn’t allow current to flow in its natural, unactuated state; when power is applied to the coil, it then allows current to flow. A normally closed contact functions in the opposite way - it allows current to flow in its natural, unactuated state, and stops the flow of current when actuated. Contactors and relays can be purchased with many different configurations of contacts.


The contacts on relays are rated for lower currents, usually from 0.25-12 Amps. Contactors, however, are usually rated for a much wider range from 0.25 Amps (voltage dependent) up to many hundreds of Amps. Contactors are usually more rugged than relays but have cost and size drawbacks and can potentially be overkill for smaller applications.


In addition to standard relays and contactors, safety rated relays are used to reduce the risk of damage to a system in the event of a failure or hazard. In a typical application, emergency stop pushbuttons and other safety devices are wired directly into a safety relay. This allows an operator to instantly cut control power for a system in the event of an emergency, preventing the system from energizing any outputs and keeping operators safe.


We at Premier Automation have the expertise to design, service, and upgrade existing relay-controlled systems to meet your needs. Whether you need a new control system or a refurbishment of an existing application, our automation experts are available to help!

 

 

 

SUCCESS STORY: Premier Automation Engineers Get Robotic Cell Up and Running!

Recently, one of Premier Automation’s Senior Automation Engineers visited a customer in Ridgway, PA to assist them with their A2 robotic cell machine. The machine was brought into the U.S. from an OEM in Germany that is no longer in business. Traditionally, German code writing can be complex, which led to subsequent challenges for the customer. 


In addition, the system has a Siemens PLC with an FM357-2 module in it that was not functioning and needed to be replaced. These modules are not readily available—only from Siemens as a spare repaired unit. Once the module was replaced, it still needed to be configured, which not many people know how to do.

In conjunction with Siemens’ Hotline support, two of Premier Automation’s Senior Automation Engineers were able to determine the issues and get the machine back up and running. After several days of debugging and working through the code, Premier Automation was able to get the machine back into production.


To learn more, please visit premierautomation.com.

Predictive Maintenance in Robotic Systems

As Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry, robotics and automation are becoming more and more popular. 

The factory of tomorrow is here today, and it’s here to stay. Robotic systems are typically able to work more effectively and efficiently than a fully human workforce. And if they can’t replace the standard workers entirely, bringing in a collaborative robot (cobot) can help a worker perform their job more effectively.

No matter how we look at it, robotic systems and automation in the factory are the way of the future. But what about maintenance? All these new robotic systems will need constant attention to ensure the system is working correctly and no parts are failing, right?

Of course they will! 

Except... that process is also becoming automated itself, thanks to the advent of predictive maintenance in robotic systems.

Automation in the Factory

With the advancements of robotics and automation in recent years, entire manufacturing systems and processes can be automated these days. A manufacturing process that’s able to monitor itself and run efficiently is something that you would’ve only seen in science fiction movies just a short few years ago.

But that dream is now a reality, with robots today able to handle more complex tasks than ever before. No matter what people’s thoughts about automating the workforce are, it is the way of the future. Automation in the factory is going to happen, it’s just a matter of whether or not factories and companies take that in stride and use it to their advantage or not. 

While we could go on for days about the advantages of automation in the factory and how it will help transform the world, let’s take a look at a few of the biggest benefits that it provides.

Open Source PLCs

Gone are the days of having to manually control aspects of the manufacturing processes with valves and buttons and doing everything by hand. In the modern day and age ripe with technology, automation and electronic controls systems have replaced much of that manual work across the industry.

But creating logic controllers from scratch that are specific to every project or job can be time consuming and expensive.  What if there was a better way? 

That’s what many of the smart software developers around the world were thinking, and luckily they came up with an incredible solution — open source PLCs. 

So, what are open source PLCs and what can open source software do for me?

Strap in and get ready, it’s time to take a look into the exciting world of open source software to see how it works and what it can do for you and your company.

How Safe is Your Factory?

Even with the new age of manufacturing coming in and automation becoming more prevalent in factories, there is still always going to be the need for factory workers. Machines today can do more than we ever thought possible, but at least for now, human factory workers are still necessary to keep everything up and running as smoothly as possible. More machines means more moving parts and automated processes. More moving parts and automation means more potentially hazardous situations for factory workers.

And with factory workers, safety has to be considered above everything else. So the question is — how safe is your factory?


Are You Industry 4.0 Ready?

Industry 4.0 — also known as the 4th Industrial Revolution — has been taking the manufacturing and processing world by storm in recent years. It’s just in its infancy and there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon.

Understanding the Role of Gateways

Almost 85% of legacy devices being used for industrial automation do not possess the ability to communicate with each other. Why? The manufacturers never thought about cross-platform compatibility. The percentage has fallen where modern devices are concerned, but the industry is still highly reliant on legacy infrastructure. This has made gathering data into one program an extremely difficult task.

Some companies are developing hardware and software that can work as a cross-platform channel for a multitude of protocols. Devices making their way onto the market tend to offer “smart connectivity”. The automation community has reached a consensus over the term and defines it as a device’s ability to connect to and be controlled from a plethora of devices over the internet. The challenge that still haunts SIs is monitoring age-old equipment that hasn’t reached an expiration date.

Automated Material Removal Tasks

Metals and Energy are coming in at record high prices if looked upon from a historic perspective. To ease off the sting, manufacturers are looking for new ways to keep the energy and material expenses controllable, without having to increase the prices of their products. Material removal is one of the areas that can greatly contribute to cost-cuts and result in increased overall efficiency.

Industry 4.0: Multiplying Possibilities and Reaping Rewards

The possibilities of applying Industry 4.0 technologies to the industrial arena are virtually unlimited. Imagine a real-time connected supply chain; one where all the components, including the producer, supplier, transporter, manufacturer, distributor, and retailer “talk” to each other. Imagine if all vehicles, containers, and pallets were interconnected. Imagine if all production equipment was interconnected. Imagine if a factory’s repositories were connected to mobile and wearables.

These changes could allow companies to understand and adapt to the consumers’ needs. They could improve the inventory management and quality of products, self-adjust based on the materials and conditions of the factory floor, and even give the workers and personnel a clearer insight into the processes.