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Industrial Automation Services Alleviate Production Line Downtime

EPIC Systems engineered, fabricated and provided industrial automation services for a custom machine to meet product demands during scheduled equipment shutdowns.

Client: Deodorant Manufacturer

Industry: Personal Care Products

Key Engineering Features & Industrial Automation Services

  • An industrial automation services company fabricated this custom machineIntelligent Stepper Motor – Precise rotational positioning of the fixture head with input/output signals integrated into a centrally located “brain” of the priming machine
  • Proximity sensors – Indicates the fixture head’s home position. A secondary sensor begins the rotation process
  • Binary inputs – Selects the number of fixture head rotations
  • Indicator LED’s – Machine status indicators
  • 120 v single phase Power – For use with standard outlets
  • UHMW drawer – Material for resistance against wear over time

Core Challenges

  • The inorganic shape of the product – Products’ oval shape added difficulty in the design phase
  • Usability – Minimal operator training required to reduce initial downtime
  • Critical project timeline – Due to upcoming scheduled maintenance, a solution was required quickly to meet short term store demands

Front End Engineering

Front End Engineering (FEE) allowed EPIC’s engineers to develop an accurate quotation that limited issues during fabrication.  By completing engineering up front, EPIC had a clear understanding of the project cost of the proposed industrial automation services and kept the project on budget. Through FEE, EPIC delivered an equipment list and completed a conceptual design and 3D model to arrive at a fixed price bid for the entire project.

Final Solution: Industrial Automation Services

Picture a doctor’s office with a nurse holding a syringe primed for a shot. They point the syringe upward and plunge it until fluid squirts out of the needle. Why do they go through this procedure?  This is an important step to make sure all air is removed from the syringe.

In deodorant manufacturing, there is a machine on the production line that primes the deodorant stick to remove air for the initial application of the gel. The machine that performs this operation on a production line has a periodic scheduled maintenance.

When the machine is offline, production must continue to meet demand. The deodorant manufacturer needed a solution to continue production while the machine was down or under maintenance.

The client was faced with a decision between an in-house manual solution and seeking out industrial automation services from an experienced industrial automation company. Without a custom machine, they could add labor and manually prime each stick by turning the twist nob a specific number of revolutions. This solution was deemed too costly, with an added risk of product inconsistency.

This custom designed machine is a product of EPIC's industrial automation services

The deodorant manufacturer contacted EPIC to engineer an industrial automation solution that would increase product consistency and efficiency. After front end engineering, EPIC’s custom machine builder team developed detailed 3D drawings and began procuring the necessary componentry.

The component selection was vitally important to the success of this project. EPIC’s engineers had to strike a balance between usability, functionality, and cost. The system had to be simple for an operator to learn and operate. It also needed consistency in the revolutions it was preforming. EPIC’s industrial automation services team integrated an intelligent stepper motor to complete these objectives.

Intelligent stepper motors contain a small programmable computer that controls a limited number of input/output components. The motor is required to control two position sensors, a binary selector switch, and two LED indicators. These components are wired directly to the stepper motors input/output terminal block.

When the signal is received from one of the sensors it initiates a “begin program” command. The stepper’s computer executes the correct number of rotations. AC and DC motors turn when electricity is delivered, while a stepper turns based on the number of electrical pulses supplied.

EPIC’s industrial automation services team fabricated the housing out of 304 stainless steel and wired the machine to interface with the 120v single phase.

A UHMW drawer positions the 2 deodorant sticks underneath the stepper motor when inserted. Proximity sensors are mounted to the machine to alert the motor when the drawer has been pushed in completely.  This allows the stepper motor to create the revolutions.

Once the revolutions are complete, a green LED light notifies the operator that the sticks are primed. Red LED lights communicate to the operator a go/ no go signal.  Either the system performed revolutions, or the stepper motor is not homed.

The priming machine can accurately complete the required number of revolutions at double the speed of a human operator. Not only are these industrial automation services more effective than having a person priming the deodorant stick, but it also primes two sticks simultaneously. The custom machine makes the process 200% more efficient than a human priming one stick at a time.

Impact of Industrial Automation Services

  • Effective downtime solution 200% more efficient than a worker priming a 1 stick at a time
  • Eliminated human error in the number of revolutions required to prime the stick
  • The machine softened the impact on production during scheduled maintenance
  • Production could continue to meet product demands
  • Money saved by eliminating the need for manual priming

Seeking Industrial Automation Services?

EPIC is a complete industrial automation services company for intelligent control system design and complete automation system integration. While traditional industrial automation integrators stick to a narrow focus of automation engineering design and control systems programming. To find out if EPIC is a good fit for your industrial automation project, contact an EPIC engineer or call 314-714-1580.

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EPIC Industrial Automation
4134 Meramec Bottom Rd
St. Louis, MO 63129, US
314-714-1580