Is Manufacturing Dead In Canada? Not so!

Everywhere you look there are signs of doom for Canadian Manufacturing. The unemployment rate, companies moving or going out of business seems to be a common theme. However, we have is an increase in manufacturing output.

How are manufacturing jobs disappearing and output increasing?

 


Investment in the business

Take a look around. Businesses that are investing in themselves will have staying power. Those that do not are going to be left behind, wither and die.
How is your company doing?

People
We often hear that people are the greatest asset of the business. What is the game plan? When asked to see or inquire about how they are advancing their employees; you get blank faces. A constant learning environment must be established.
The learning environment includes:

  • How individuals interact with and treat one another.
  • How information is conveyed
    • Internet
    • Intranet
    • Meetings
    • Teams
    • Postings
  • Knowledge of individual contributions
    • Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Recognize how individuals learn (Example: Millennials do not get information from an authority figure.)
    • Customize leaning for individuals

Process
Look at your process from a newborn perspective. Inquire and explore why things have to happen in a certain way. Break every step down.
Kipling wrote:
I keep six honest serving men. They taught me all I knew. Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who.
Query your people with questions and listen.

  • If they had more time, what would they work on?
  • What is the biggest challenge?
  • What is bugging them?
  • Are you happy?

Machine
Keep up on the latest machine innovations for your industry as well as others. Know the limitations of each machine. Table new concepts to your learning environment.
If you are to fix the machine then ask

  • Is this the first time this has happened? Will it happen again?
  • How long did it take to troubleshoot the problem?
  • Is there something we can improve upon?
  • How can this knowledge be shared with operators, maintenance, management?

Automation
There is a reason that this is last on the list. Automation can stand by itself, but it really requires an understanding of each of the items mentioned above before it is successful.
You must understand your people, process and machine before automation can prove to be an asset.

Automation, people, process and machine innovation can happen. It is up to you.

If you have any questions or need further information, please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry

Reference:
Statistics Canada for Manufacturing
https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/subjects/Manufacturing




If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.


Creating More Than Just A PLC Program

A collection of random thoughts on PLC programming and doing more than just basic logic. Making your program intuitive.

PLC programs usually just control the logic between the inputs and outputs. If this turns on and that is not on, then this output is on, blah blah blah. Programmable logic controller programs can go far beyond just the basic logic. Modern processing power has enabled allot more features that can be programmed.


Traditional PLC programs are written so everyone can understand the ladder programming. This is not the case anymore. There should be no need for anyone to review the ladder program. Error messages, alarms, and sequencing should automatically make troubleshooting simple. If something is not working, your system should direct personal how and what to do to fix it.

Touch screens, LED indicators, stack lights, custom user error messages, display boards, and logging software are just a few methods of displaying information to the operator, electrician, mechanic, supervisors, managers and even owners of the equipment.

Your program can track the basic hours of operation and trigger maintenance events from these hours. What needs to be done after 100, 500, 1000 hours? Just like the service on your car, you should plan for the service on your machine through the use of the program.

If a pneumatic cylinder is used here are a few things that you can track in the program:

  • Number of cylinder cycles
    • Life expectancy
  • The time it takes to complete cycle (Sensors on both ends of the cylinder)
    • Determine if a seal is leaking
    • The pressure of the incoming supply if multiple cylinders are monitored

Here is a good reference for Bimba Cylinders.
https://library.automationdirect.com/practical-guide-to-pneumatics-ebook/

Alarm Screens:

Alarms should be easily identified and located.
Remember: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Establish sequencing of events that can be stepped through forward and backward can allow maintenance personnel to easily troubleshoot the system without going through possibly hundreds of lines of ladder logic.
Please see the following links for sequencing your program:
Building a PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of – Part 1
Building a PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of – Part 2

With Ethernet connections built into most modern PLC CPUs, it is now possible for the PLC to automatically send email to your exchange server.
Automation Direct Do-More CPU is one of these PLCs.
https://www.automationdirect.com/adc/Shopping/Catalog/Programmable_Controllers/Do-more_Series_(BRX,_H2,_T1H)_PLCs_(Micro_Modular_-a-_Stackable)

When programming PLC’s for logging data, information must be stored in the PLC for later retrieval. Most commercially available software for logging data does not consider the event of losing the communication cable. If an interruption on your communication lines happens, data cannot be retrieved from the PLC. The PLC can use indirect addressing to store the logged information. Logging software can read the pointer to the logged data, read the data and then reset the pointer. The duration and amount of information that you are logging will determine the amount of time the communication can be disabled before losing data. I usually log daily summaries as well as detailed information in the process. My detailed data will be lost in 2 hours but my log daily will take one month.

What other options do you see with a modern PLC?

I look forward to your comments,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.


Here is a Method That can Help You with Difficult Level Sensing

Turn a capacitive proximity sensor into a level sensor. This is ideal for tanks and vessels that you cannot drill through the side for mounting.




Wrap the bare wire around the sensing head and extend it to the length you need to detect. Insulate the wire using electrical tape all the way down, but leave the end exposed. This acts as an antenna. Anything touching the end will now be detected. I have used 14 and 12 AWG wire, depending on the application.

This is ideal for hard to mount areas. You can bend the wire any way you want as long as the insulation (electrical tape) is not exposed.I have had the wire extend up to 30 feet from the sensor without an issue.

Some quick information about capacitive proximity sensors.
A capacitor is defined as two electrically charged plates separated by a dielectric. In the case of a capacitive proximity sensor, the dielectric is the material that you are trying to detect. As the material moves closer to the electrostatic field of the sensor, oscillation begins. It will get past a threshold and trigger the output to switch.

Some common dielectric constants for material:
Glass – 5
Wood – 2.7
Paper – 2.3
Air, Vacuum – 1
Water – 80
Once you know the dielectric constant you can determine the sensing range (Sr) by a chart that usually comes with the sensor or in the manufactures manual.

Example: Water is 80 so the sensing range is 100%

I generally just try the sensor to determine if it will be suitable for the application.

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.


Get Rid Of Surges That Are Destroying Your PLC Outputs

DC Solenoids are the worse culprits for electrical surges on your system. When the electrically generated field collapses an opposite polarity voltage is generated. This voltage spike can be high enough to weld the contacts on a PLC output relay.



To protect your PLC output relay, use a diode to ensure that when the solenoid switches off the voltage spike are released through the diode instead of the relay.

 

The diode should be rated to handle 10 times the voltage that you are switching and enough for the current flow of the circuit.

Parts of the diode:

The cathode of the diode is marked by a band.  The electron flow will only occur in one direction.

Installation:
Install the diode as close as possible in parallel with the solenoid. The cathode should be wired to the positive source of the solenoid. (Dissipate negative polarity voltage spike)

Note: You could also install an interposing device to handle the surge such as an SSR. (Solid State Relay) This is generally more money, space in the panel and wiring.

Note: Allot of solenoids come already with surge suppressing diodes from the manufacturer. If not, you will usually need this information when troubleshooting and discover your welded contacts of the output relay.

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.


Building a PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of – Part 2

In part 1 we looked at writing PLC programs to control a traffic light using discrete bits and then using timed sequencing using indirect addressing.  We will now look at how we can use indirect addressing for inputs as well as output to control the sequence in the program.

Let’s look at an example of controlling pneumatic (air) cylinders.

Video of  Pneumatic Cylinder Sequencing on YouTube.

This site contains a video of the three cylinders and the sequence required.



This program will have the following inputs. Even though no sensors are mounted on the cylinders, it is best to have sensor inputs when the cylinder is extended (out) and retracted (in)
Inputs:
Cylinder 1 In – X1
Cylinder 1 Out – X2
Cylinder 2 In – X3
Cylinder 2 Out – X4
Cylinder 3 In – X5
Cylinder 3 Out – X6
Start PB NO – X7
Stop PB NO – X8
Step PB NO – X9

This program will have the following outputs.
Outputs:
Cylinder 1 In – Y1
Cylinder 1 Out – Y2
Cylinder 2 In – Y3
Cylinder 2 Out – Y4
Cylinder 3 In – Y5
Cylinder 3 Out – Y6

We will use the following pointers:
V0 – Output pointer starting at address V2000
V1 – Input pointer starting at address V1000
V10 will be the input word
V20 will be the output word

Before we start and write the code lets look at the sequence that we are trying to accomplish. The best way to do this is a chart indicating the inputs and output. I use either graph paper or spreadsheet software to configure the sequence.
I usually start with the outputs configure the sequence that I would like to see. Then based upon the output sequence, I figure out the input sequence.

Note: Here is the location for a quick review of numbering systems from a previous post.

Once the sequence has been established, the next step is writing the program.
Input program that will set the input bits in V10.

The control part of the program:
The first scan will reset the input and output pointers.
The input pointer is compared to the input word V10. If they are equal then the output pointer and input pointer are incremented. If the STEP input is hit, then the output and input pointers are incremented.
The output pointer is then compared to the maximum value (end of the sequence). If it is greater than or equal to the maximum value then the pointers will be reset.
Line 12 will move the outputs indirectly to the output word.

Output program that will set the actual outputs based upon the bits in V20

As you can see the actual program is very small however the sequence can be thousands of steps. This is a very straight forward and powerful method of programming. Programming this sequence using bits, timers, and no indirect addressing would be very difficult and hard to read. Modifications would have to be a complete re-write of the program.

Modifications:
The entire program sequence could change without further lines of code. Only the values in the registers would need to be modified. This could lead to different sequences for different products.
We used a step input to have the program move forward through the sequence. It would be just as easy to add a step reverse function for the program. We would just have decrement the pointers and check to make sure when we were at the beginning of the sequence.

Troubleshooting:
When troubleshooting this program we would only need to look at the compares to determine what input and or output is not working correctly.

Integration with a touch panel display is simplified when using this type of programming method.

What other advantages do you see?

In Part 3 we will build on the traffic light sequencing used in part one with inputs for pedestrian and car detection.

Contact me for the above program. I will be happy to email it to you.
If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry

You can download the software and simulator free at the following address. Also listed are helpful guides to walk you through your first program.
Do-more Designer Software

How to use video’s for Do-more Designer Software




If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.