A Smart Decision Pays Big Dividends
Streamfeeder, by BW Integrated Systems, is known for their rugged, dependable, and versatile feeding solutions. When the components on their best-selling feeder were being obsoleted, they began looking for servo and PLC replacements.
Their footprint for the new IT 1250 Friction Feeder was pretty small. Paul Swanson, Software Controls Engineer at BW Integrated Systems says, “That’s what got us to make the move to a Mitsubishi Electric servo. They have a lot of compact gear that packs a lot of performance into a small package.” They decided to go with the Mitsubishi Electric MR-J4-B Servo Drive.
Then Tom Schrauth, Senior Sales Engineer at Mitsubishi Electric said, “If the entire control cabinet was Mitsubishi Electric, you’d have a better, smarter, more innovative and profitable feeder.” Paul agreed and BW Integrated Systems decided to go with a Mitsubishi Electric FX5U PLC and HMI too.
Engineered to Deliver More
Because the entire control system is made up of advanced Mitsubishi Electric components, Streamfeeder was able to do more than increase torque and performance. The new feeder also delivers a wealth of new capabilities including:
- WiFi connectivity – A production manager can be in his office, at home or on the road and still see what’s going on with the feeder at any given time. Operators can set-up, adjust and troubleshoot the feeder anywhere on the production line — from a phone, tablet or laptop. That means throughput, downtime and runtime decisions can be made more quickly.
- Job library – Companies can store job parameters for faster setups. Operators don’t have to look up jobs, re-enter parameters or worry about making a mistake. They simply select a job name and push a button. All the job parameters are automatically set from a control standpoint. Paul says, “It’s a big time-saver during changeovers.”
- Real-time diagnostics – Management, operators and maintenance personnel can efficiently track productivity, quality and efficiency in real-time. Paul says, “You can open up a report, see how far along the job is and how fast the system is running. Then if all of a sudden, performance drops a bit, you know something’s going on.”
- Preventive maintenance – The system tracks cycles and reminds users to perform specific tasks such as replacing the belts. Maintenance personnel can perform diagnostics and look at performance over the past hour, shift, day or year. The new feeder also makes predictive maintenance attainable in the future because it’s a smart machine.
The decision to do more than simply update the system is paying big dividends. By building it better, Streamfeeder was able to leapfrog the competition. Paul says, “A lot of it wasn’t driven by actual market demand now. We’re just trying to look to the future to see where market demand is going.”
The next step is collateral control. This will bring error reporting and orchestration to their customers. The goal is to get machines talking to each other. Doug Schulz, National Sales Manager for the Streamfeeder product line says, “This will be a big help to customers who have more than one feeder in their shops.”
The Power of One: Quality, Performance, and Compatibility.
During the re-engineering process Paul Swanson, Software Controls engineer says, “We knew that if we made this all Mitsubishi Electric, we’d have better control of the feeder itself. Interface improvements would increase speed and accuracy and it would be easier to program. We’d also have less holding pressure on the product, which in some cases can leave marks.”
Maintenance is streamlined too. Paul says, “Why mix components? If we can get the cost-effectiveness from Mitsubishi Electric, there’s no reason not to. Why have such a large inventory of different parts?” Doug says, “We sell equipment all over the world. Because the machine’s components are all manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric, they’re available all around the world. We know this machine can be supported everywhere we are.”
The backward compatibility is huge as well. “We’ve had other companies we worked with that were constantly changing products on us, so we had to change our design. Mitsubishi Electric has been very good about stabilizing their product line.”
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