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PLM: Where It Began, Where It's Going

Product lifecycle management, or PLM, is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from inception through end-stage disposal. It is sometimes considered one of four information technology cornerstones for a manufacturer, alongside customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP).

The PLM concept began in the mid-1980s when American Motors Corporation (AMC), intent on establishing a competitive advantage over the auto industry giants of the time, put its focus on using technology to speed the product development process. Although AMC was ultimately acquired by one of those giants, its innovations were integrated into modern manufacturing tech and have played an invaluable role there ever since.

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Eight Keys to Better Asset Reliability

If you’re a manufacturing plant manager, what don’t you want to see out to the production floor? Probably a significant number of things, but near the top of that list would probably be a large group of workers congregating around a critical piece of machinery that should be running—yet isn’t. Rarely does such a sight have positive implications.

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What Is Machine Vision and How Can It Help?

People are often confused about what machine vision can and cannot do for a manufacturing line or process. Understanding how it works can help make decisions about if it will resolve problems with the application. So exactly what is machine vision, and how does it work?

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Picking An Integration Partner: Four Steps to Success

 Plant floor automation, data integration, and optimization of facilities processes are critical to overall business success in today’s global business environment. The focus on information, coupled with the introduction and implementation of Industrie 4.0, places an even greater emphasis on selecting the best partner to drive success within automation-focused projects.  Knowing this, it is crucial to establish a relationship with a system integrator that understands your needs and offers the best solutions for your business.

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Four Supply Chain Challenges and Solutions

A supply chain is a network of individuals, businesses, organizations, resources, activities and technology involved in the creation and sale of a product from inception through to delivery to end users. Supply chain management is the oversight of all resources that go into the supply chain process.

Within supply chains there are many challenges that emerge. These challenges vary from organization to organization but there are some common opportunities that many different industries may experience.  With some adjustments and focus, many of the common challenges can become manageable aspects of the supply chain.

Here are some common supply chain challenges that arise within a manufacturing and distribution environment:

 

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Improving Maintenance Reliability and Sustainability

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When looking at all that goes into a reliable process, one must be able to see maintenance is only a portion of the process. There are so many different inputs to not only the process, but also the assets themselves. Consider raw material variations, how the equipment is operated, quality specifications, and demand for the assets.

 

Maintenance is not the silver bullet to success. Success comes from the entire organization working together. However, in my experience, one of the things the team I was part of did to highlight this was to eliminate 90% of the maintenance-related issues. The result was moving from 58% original equipment efficiency (OEE) to 65% OEE. Upon deep diving the production loss data, numerous issues came to light:

 

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Four Lessons for Pioneering a New Process in Food Manufacturing

Stellar recently completed a new, state-of-the-art hatchery for poultry processor Bell & Evans. The facility — which is the first certified organic, humane, animal-welfare focused chick hatchery in the United States — is an example of trailblazing a new approach to traditional food processing.

Not only does it employ fascinating and cutting-edge technology, but this food processing project contains lessons for any food manufacturer looking to pioneer or experiment in their own particular market.

Regardless of what sector of the food industry you are in, there are important factors to consider before investing in a new technology or adventuring into uncharted territory in plant processing.

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How Test Fixtures Streamline the Robotics Repair Process

Robots are a critical part of today’s manufacturing. Keeping them running is a high priority, while minimizing downtime for repairs is essential.

In places like automotive plants, the robots can be massive, so sending them out for repair is not an option. Typically, when something goes wrong with one of these large machines, the problem can be traced back to a single component—a board or drive, a human-machine interface (HMI), a programmable logic controller (PLC) or a touchscreen, for example. Once the customer identifies the component that has failed, the next step is sending it out for repair or replacement.

Radwell International, a leader in industrial repair, distribution and surplus automation, maintains a $2-billion surplus, which is a great cost-effective alternative for a customer with a machine down. This this surplus also allows for their Engineering Department build efficient test fixtures. This huge on-site inventory of parts and robots means technicians can put the part in question through a full-load test in the same model robot as the one the customer uses. As a result, Radwell’s customers have confidence in the repairs and replacements because they know their components have been thoroughly tested. Radwell can also repair or replace teach pendants, control panels and any of the control components, as well as other parts such as servo motors.

This surplus and testing capability sets Radwell apart from its competitors and greatly enhances its capacity to quickly test components and replacement parts, so that its customers are up and running again as soon as possible. The extensive testing enables Radwell to offer its customers a two-year warranty (compared to the industry-standard of 12-18 months), and also keeps the warranty rate very low (4 percent versus the 6 percent industry average).

Watch a short video about the company’s robotic repair and test capabilities featuring the Kawasaki UX120F, a robot that improves production line efficiencies and general industry and automotive applications. The Kawasaki UC120F is just one of the many robots Radwell has available to test components.

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Equipment Overview: KH7050 Laser Engraving Machine

Recently we’ve acquired a new machine at Radwell International headquarters to add additional repair services to our capabilities. Our latest addition is a KH7050 Laser Engraving Machine, which allows us to design and cut new graphic overlays and gaskets for our customers.

The major benefit to having this machine in a production facility is the amount of time it saves on repair turnaround for customers. Currently there is up to a four week turnaround for customer overlays and gaskets to be made when these items are outsourced during our repair process. With this machine, turnaround can be under two hours. With this significant time difference, better service can be provided to customers who need custom items created.

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HMI Systems: An Operational Cornerstone

In this day and age, human machine interfaces are everywhere. Think about every point of contact a human has with technology and it becomes a reminder that as humans, we interact with machines in just about every aspect of our lives today. Self-service checkout at the grocery store, plugging an address into your car’s GPS or getting some cash at the ATM are all examples of instances when humans interact with an interface designed to help foster human/machine communication.

As it applies to automation equipment in a manufacturing facility, human machine interface products offer the necessary electronics to easily control automation equipment in an industrial environment. HMI products can range from a simple design with basic screen controls to a more complex touchscreen with numerous features and windows. In most environments, whether for service oriented tasks or in an industrial environment, HMI systems must be resistant to dust, water, moisture, high or low temperatures and even chemicals.

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