Cimtec Automation Blog

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

3D Printing’s Possibilities!

           3D printing has arrived and taken the tech community by storm. Here at CIMTEC, we currently have three 3D printers in our office. One of our engineers, Todd, is our 3D printing guru. Todd is usually running several printers for most of the day. Todd loves 3D printers because of how practical the machines are. He explained to me that the practicality of the machines rests in their ability to create an extremely diverse array of objects. Todd claims his personal printer at home is the best investment he has ever made. He explained that his printer makes home improvements easier due to its ability to replace a broken object in minutes. 3D printers may be able to reshape our world. In this post, I will detail how they could.
            3D printers are already able to print organic matter. Some scientists believe that, in coming years, 3D printers will also be able to reproduce human organs. This would be a remarkable feat that could potentially save millions of lives. The technology would be able to use stem cells from the individual to print the organic matter, thereby making the organ specific to the individual.
            This technology is years away, but corporations have already started planning for the possibilities. One such company is L’Oreal, which “is pushing to 3D print skin. The work has huge implications. Most obviously, it will enable L’Oreal to lab test the safety and performance of cosmetic products on 3D bio printed skin. The result will be much more affordably, quickly and easily tested products, throughout the design process – instead of needing to assess their reaction with real bodies or hair before the final stages of testing.” (Leonard King, Forbes)
            The ability to print genetic organs offers the possibility of revolutionizing the beauty business, and more importantly our understanding of human health.
            3D printers have another incredible possibility, replacing the manufacturing of some goods entirely. The digital design schematics for many products are currently available on the web. Most are free of charge while some are for sale at a low price. Printing the exact digital schematics of goods could revolutionize the way we shop. Imagine, if a user wanted a pair of new Nikes, they might only need to buy the digital schematics and then print the shoes in their own home. That is the direction that 3D printers very well could be taking us.
            One thing is certain. 3D printers are here to stay.

Friday, December 11, 2015

CIMTEC Problem Solving

This piece consists of three separate case studies, which highlight the problem-solving ability of CIMTEC. The company names will remain anonymous.

1) Problem / Requirement:

Problems holding tolerances on upstream processes and manual assembly, resulting in high scrap levels of finished products.
Solution: Precision Assembly System
CIMTEC developed an automated assembly using two six-axis robots, with the robot presenting each component to a camera for inspection prior to assembly so out-of-tolerance sub-components would not result in a scrapped final assembly.
The customer not only achieved huge savings by eliminating the amount of scrap, but also increased overall quality and production by detecting faulty components before final assembly.

2) Problem / Requirement:

Scrap on a multi-layer web line was too high, due to problems with web movement causing poor seals.
Solution: Dynamic Tracking System
CIMTEC engineers provided a system that added cameras to measure the web position in both X and Y axes, with servos to move the press based on data from the camera.
The accuracy provided by this measurement system resulted in a measurable reduction in scrap, thus increasing product quality. The savings were dramatic, and the customer is moving forward with similar applications on more lines of productions within the facility.

3) Problem/ Requirement:

The company needed to maintain tighter tolerances on steel plate thickness used by their customers in stamping operations.
Solution: Laser Thickness Measurement System
CIMTEC developed and installed laser thickness monitoring to log dimensions and reject out-of-tolerance steel plate. Data derived from logging over time allowed a reduction in plate thickness from the previous manufacturing method.
The company saved a considerable amount by reducing raw material cost. Data derived from logging over time allowed a reduction in plate thickness from their supplier, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Monday, October 5, 2015

GE IP 90-30 Goes Mature – CIMTEC has you covered

On October 1, 2015, GE IP announced that the popular 90-30 PLC has been placed in Mature status.  Here is the message from Connie Chick, GE 90-30 Controller Product Manager:
  “…we are announcing that the Series 90-30 moves to Mature* status October 1, 2015, with the PACSystems RX3i taking over all its application capability. The PACSystems RX3i is built on the Series 90-30 tradition of great reliability and performance.”

CIMTEC is the place for on-going GE 90-30 parts and support:

  •  Hundreds of thousands of dollars of New 90-30 components in stock, direct from the factory
  •  Full in-house Repair capability with a huge supply of Pre-Repaired parts that can be shipped immediately while your part is repaired
  •  Programming tools, manuals, and documentation on all 90-30 parts and systems
  • The best Technical Support team with over 60 years’ experience with the 90-30 PLC system, available for Phone and On-Site support
CIMTEC has been through this before.  In 2009, GE IP discontinued the 90-70 PLC line.  Today, CIMTEC is the only company with over $5 million of Factory-New 90-70 units and a deep inventory of Pre-Repaired and Remanufactured parts.  Plus, we are the only Factory-Authorized 90-70 Repair Center in the world!

So, how can CIMTEC help?

If you’re concerned about how this announcement will affect your business, we can help.  CIMTEC has put a couple wonderful programs in place for you.

First, we have an on-site Risk Assessment program where we will audit all of your current 90-30 PLC systems, listing all components used in each system.  We will also do a complete inventory of your spare 90-30 parts.  With this information in-hand, our team of PLC engineers will analyze your situation and recommend the proper spare parts, programming software updates, and other special considerations that will allow your 90-30 systems to run for many years to come.  The final Assessment document is a useful tool for planning your PLC asset future.

Second, CIMTEC is the leading GE PLC Migration company.  For years, we have been migrating GE PLC systems to the latest platform.  Learn about our 7-Step Migration process in our eBook entitled, 7 Steps to a Successful PLC Migration .

CIMTEC is in the business of supporting your PLC investments.  Don’t let the end of the 90-30 line concern you – we are here to get you through it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

EPSON Robots Newest Addition to CIMTEC Automation Product Offering

CIMTEC Automation is pleased to announce the latest addition to their growing distribution line with Epson Robots, the #1 SCARA Robot Manufacturer in the World.  The agreement includes distribution of all of Epson Robots automation products including their large lineup of SCARA, 6-Axis and Linear Module robots as well as integrated vision, fieldbus I/O and many other industrial automation products offered by Epson Robots.  CIMTEC Automation will help Epson Robots continue to grow robot based automation usage and solutions into North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
“With over 25 years of experience, CIMTEC Automation has proven themselves as more than just a distributor of products, but as a premier solutions provider in the Industrial Automation market in the Southeastern US and we are proud to have them as a part of our distribution network,” stated Michael Ferrara, Director of Epson Robots. CIMTEC’s industry-specific knowledge and experience with PLC’s, Controllers, Vision Systems, robots and many other automation products make for a natural fit to add Epson Robots products to their product solutions lineup.”

Epson Robots is the global leader in PC controlled precision factory automation, with an installed base of well over 45,000 robots and a product line of hundreds of models of easy to use SCARA, Cartesian and 6 axis robots based on a common PC based controls platform. Building on a 30 year heritage, Epson Robots today delivers robots for precision assembly and material handling applications in the aerospace, appliance, automotive, biotechnology, consumer product, electronics, food processing, medical device, pharmaceutical, plastics, semiconductor, and telecommunication industries. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Advancements in Robotics

           In the last fifteen years, robotic automation has changed manufacturing tremendously.  By being able to create products timely, accurately, and cheaper than ever before, robotic automation has enhanced our human understanding of efficiency.  In this piece, I am going to detail three revolutionary advancements in robotic automation projected to hit the market in the next five years. I will also give a brief overview, which will aim at displaying how and why intelligent machinery (automated robots) intertwined with advanced analytical systems produces incredible results.
           To begin, I must engage in the current debate surrounding Artificial Intelligence, and the so-called rise of the robot. According to “University of Oxford researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, [who] estimated in 2013 that 47% of total U.S. Jobs could be automated by 2033. The combination of robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning is so powerful that some white collar workers are already being replaced – and were talking journalists, lawyers, doctors, and financial analysts” (Erik Sherman, Forbes). The only people who aren’t in real danger of losing their jobs are those in highly creative spaces. There are several forward thinking businessmen who have already begun embracing the fact that most blue collar jobs will be replaced and are planning accordingly to these projection, among them are Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt (Google, DeepMind), Jeff Bezos (Amazon, BlueOrigin), Elon Musk (Tesla, Paypal, SpaceX), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook). Unfortunately, if you work as a; bank teller, receptionist, mailman, travel agent, bus driver, accountant, coffee barista, anesthesiologist, taxi cab driver, telemarketer, or newspaper correspondent, than your job will more than likely cease to exist to humanity by 2030. Why? Two Words - Robotic Automation. Robots are not only more cost effective, but in many situations, they are more accurate and efficient than their human competition could ever be. Artificial Intelligence will revolutionize the analytical capability of nearly every industry. We are going to be able to dissect current economic institutions, or manufacturing practices, and through detailed analytics rebuild them as better than they have ever been before. Robotics and automation are the keys to humanity disrupting outdated institutions and practices, and remolding them with smart technology and analytics performed by machines.
           In the years between 2017 and 2025 using estimated “global manufacturing labor costs at $6 trillion annually, McKinsey forecast that advanced robotics could have an economic impact on the manufacturing sector of between $720 billion to $1.45 trillion annually” (Colin Lewis). The five areas that have already begun to take off in robotics, and will continue to do so in the next five years are:
1) Medicinal Robots- Have already began being used in some surgeries. They are incredibly accurate, and cost way less than your top surgeon. Some medicinal robots can also diagnose illness more accurately and faster than a doctor ever could. They have begun being used in third world countries, and were even exploited during the Ebola virus outbreak.
2)  Drones-  Or unmanned aircrafts, will change a variety of sectors. Most notably will be the transportation of goods. Delivery of goods/services by drones may not be legal yet, but when in history has economics not prevailed. If it is tremendously more cost effective than its other option, than the cost effective option will prevail as it always has. In the next five years, the FAA has projected 30,000 drones to be active in our American skies. That is an astounding figure.

3)  Driverless Cars/Buses- This is already among us. The CEO’s of Ford, Tesla, GM, Jaguar, Audi, and Porsche expect to have completely automated cars on the road by 2018. This is incredible; by 2030 it is quite possible that no self-driven cars will be allowed on roads reserved for fully autonomous vehicles. Why? Safety of the passengers, autonomous cars are a prime example of how automation in robotics creates a more cost effective, accurate, and therefore efficient option than the human option of old.

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 13th, 2015. Cimtec Migration Symposium

            On Wednesday, CIMTEC hosted a symposium focused around the efficient and economical way for migration of PLC’s. Over thirty engineers were in attendance, all focused on enhancing their technological capabilities. With the help of CIMTEC, and several valuable team members, we have informed these engineers of the economical, efficient, and safe way to migrate from older obsolete systems to the state of the art technology provided by GE. The goal of the symposium was to help these businessmen who need to migrate their current PLC structure, and offer viable and sustainable options on how to transition from technology of old to the state of the art platform that is offered by CIMTEC and General Electric. CIMTEC and General Electric offer complete backward compatibility, which gives businessmen a safety net when making the transition to new technology. In addition, the migration path from a legacy GE PLC to their state-of-the-art Rx3i PAC system is straight-forward, providing the shortest path to full migration and the most economical path.  The advantage of CIMTEC became very clear to the businessmen, CIMTEC holds the unique ability of selling, maintaining, and up-keeping the PLC control system for its clients. Most of the businessmen were thrilled to hear of the success CIMTEC has had for similar businesses. We want to thank everyone for coming out today! The event was a huge success!