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Advanced Engineering 2021

NEC Birmingham(B40 1NT)

03/11/2021 - 04/11/2021

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Enlisting the services of an automation partner

Enlisting the services of an automation partner Automation can increase output, improve production quality and maximise plant profit for end-users. But how can small to medium OEM machine builders, who may not have the necessary in-house expertise, bring the benefits of automation to their customers? Andrew Weaver of Eriks explains that no one need miss out.

As the cost of installing and running automated systems has moved within reach of smaller businesses, machine builders have looked for ways to further enhance the efficiency and capability of automation systems. Today, end users are looking for innovative, bespoke solutions to increase throughput, and machine builders are working to meet this need.

OEM machine builders, especially small to medium SMEs, can gain significant advantages from enlisting the services of a partner that has a dedicated facility and a depth of industry experience and knowledge in automation. Larger OEMs are likely to have their own in house expertise, but smaller machine builders that need to supply automation solutions for their customers can benefit from consulting a dedicated team of design and application engineers with the know-how to solve problems with cost-effective, efficient automated solutions.  

But why source an automation partner at extra cost when the work could be done in-house? The answer is that building the most efficient, optimised and cost-effective system demands the highest levels of experience, specialised knowledge and an awareness of the latest automation technology. But without it, the result is likely to be an over-expensive build and, worse still, a less efficient and less capable system that does not maximise profitability for the customer.

Projects can also overrun, as engineers work to get up to speed with automation technology and to evaluate, design and build the best solution while also dealing with their regular responsibilities. And despite all this effort, the finished system can often fail to meet the required standards.

In contrast, working with a specialised supplier that can offer an in-depth knowledge of automation gained from the practical experience of building such systems, can pay dividends. With a comprehensive brief and detailed specification, budgets and delivery deadlines will be met and a system will be designed that meets and even exceeds the required level of performance.

Eriks recently launched a new Automation Services Division in the UK to help deliver energy savings, enhanced performance, and improved profitability of automation technology across a wide range of industries.  The new division
will design, develop, assemble and build innovative solutions in automation technology, with a particular focus on motion control. Eriks supplies products from many brands and is platform/technology independent, with no agenda to promote any solution that is driven by a particular tech-nology, and it is just this unbiased, open-minded approach that is needed when optimising automation systems.

For example, Eriks Automation has pooled customer knowledge and its own know-how to design bespoke automated egg handling systems. A series of issues were addressed in devising these systems, resulting in the design of multi-stage automated machinery that capitalises on the latest technology to create the most efficient and effective system for the purpose. An automated egg handling system must gather the eggs from the coop and transport them to checking, sorting and packing points at capacities of up to 150,000 eggs per hour, and this volume of output must be achieved with careful handling of the eggs at all stages. This means: the creation of a system that can perform safe, automatic transportation of the egg from the coop to the egg handling system via dedicated conveyors; the capacity to check the eggs for damage, dirt and blood, and to sort according to dimension and colour; and the facility to stack the eggs on trays, which are then piled up in containers.

For the automation of this process, Eriks supplies motors, servo controllers and amplifiers for all the required motions. This includes stepper motors or servo motors for positioning, squirrel cage motors and frequency converters for the main power drives, and gearboxes, encoders and brakes. Eriks also customises these automation systems with brackets and wiring, supplies cartridge technology and can deliver mounting-ready packages.  

As the example of the egg-handling system illustrates, automated systems can be complex interdependent constructions requiring a broad knowledge of the application and the various technologies that must be incorporated. That's why dedicated automation services provide such a valuable resource for engineering SMEs, bringing a ready-made capability that enables them to provide the best possible solutions for their customers.
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