A B&D Technologies customer has a vintage printing press which prints the paper utilized by sugar packets. The customer was seeking a way to effectively measure the finished yards per batch with an automatic stop command, yards per shift with a manual reset and a way to activate a temperature function based on running speed. They did not want to go to a PLC or an elaborate control process.
B&D Technologies crafted a stripped-down yet elegant solution from Red Lion and Baumer. One of our Senior Applications Engineers, Jeff Sandrock, did the development and testing with the parts listed below:
- Red Lion PAX2D000 Universal Digital Input Meter
- Red Lion PAXCDS10 Dual Setpoint Relay Output Card
- Red Lion ENC5B000 NEMA 4X/IP65 Plastic Enclosure for PAX Meter
- Baumer HS35P Encoder, Programmable
- ABB Selector Switch, 2-pos
- ABB Selector Switch, 3-pos
- ABB Pushbutton, Black
Over the years, the challenge in the field has been a decrease in engineers and technicians capable of advanced programming, like in the case of a PLC. Some customers have progressed into roles where they are more multi-craft maintenance folks, and if they have the knowledge, they are so overly-tasked that they do not have the time create these smaller designs. We realize what the customer capabilities are, and a PLC is not always the answer. A counter allows us (or Red Lion) to trouble-shoot any issues over the phone, without the need for software or advanced knowledge. We certainly could have done this with a PLC, but why? We did not want to make this cumbersome for the customer when future needs arise.
A few years ago, I wrote an article on the pitfalls of Value-Added Engineering (VAE) from the perspective of a distributor. There are specific reasons why VAE is a bad thing, depending on the advanced nature of technology, the capabilities of the user and local resources. The point of the article questioned why a professional would recommend something that only a few people in a respective state, nation, or world could service or fix.
Why would anyone buy a machine or solution where the entire support structure is in Europe or China? Yet, we see this every day. Everything is fine until the initial warranty period is over and then the system starts to fail. And fail it will. The user is scrambling to find a way to make it work again. This is the classical example of entropy.
Merriam defines “entropy” as the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity. Machinery needs effort
and money to fight entropy. The bottom line, just keep it simple until you have to have the technology. And choose technology that is open-source and
easy to service with a support structure in place.