Productivity Ideas for 2018

This newsletter will throw out some productivity ideas for your 2018 budgeting. And of course, the ideas will involve some sort of an application of industrial controls.  The article will focus more on the why, than on the how.  Please contact Wortman Controls if one of the ideas strikes home and you need assistance with the how.


Bulk Material Dispensing Using a PLC, HMI, load cell/scale, and some material handling equipment; automated bulk material dispensing can be accomplished with benefits over a manual operation. There are two common methods to achieve the task.  One is to weigh material that has been delivered to a bin, or the other is to measure the weight-loss of a container that is dispensing the material.  Some benefits are as follows.  1) More consistent and accurate delivery of material. This has value to both the internal or external customer that is receiving the material. 2) Less time-consuming record-keeping as the PLC can send the dispensing results to a production database via an Ethernet connection.  Information can include a time/date stamp, shop order number, quantity of material dispensed, operator ID, etc.  Using a 3D barcode reader and barcodes, the operator input can be error-free and very efficient.  3)  Because of the first two benefits listed, more accurate inventory values will result in less non-value-added time spent reconciling inventory, less customer delivery delays when the inventory is under-stated, and reducing inventory that is there due to a lack of confidence in the actual quantity. Liquid Dispensing The benefits are the same as the automated bulk material dispensing, but the how is different.  Today there many economical control options for dispensing/metering liquids.  One that is gaining popularity uses a non-contact totalizing flow sensor.  These sensors reduce installation time as they clamp to the outside of the pipe so no need to break the line. Manufacturing Waste-stream Recycling Install a metal-detector and reject mechanism on your non-metallic waste-stream.  This could include glass, wood, and plastic recyclables.  Benefits include an increased re-sale value of the material, less wear-and-tear on material grinding equipment, and a purer product made from the recyclables. Pump and Fan Applications Automatically lower the speed of a fan or pump based on a process variable (for example temperature, level or pressure).  There are VFDs on the market today that have built-in control loops, so a separate PID controller or PLC is not always required.  Benefits to applying this sort of control scheme include the following.  1) Reduced energy costs from both the KW demand and the KW-Hour components of the electrical bill. Per the US Department of Energy, significant reductions in energy can result from minor reductions in motor speed.  Google their Motor Systems Tip Sheet #11 for more information.  2) Increased equipment life will result when the motors do not have to run at 100% under part-load conditions. Facility Monitoring Systems Install a wireless or landline-based facility monitoring system.  Cellular systems are gaining more clout because of the expansion and reliability of cellular networks and their reduced installation and operating costs.  But cellular systems are not for use in connection with any activity that requires fail-safe systems or in which a malfunction could result in loss of life, bodily injury, environmental hazard, or property damage.  Possible benefits for your site are the following.  1) Reduce or eliminate guard service.  2) Getting timely and accurate break-down information to the maintenance personnel will result in quicker repairs and less downtime.  3) Eliminating non-value-added inspection of properly operating systems will increase labor efficiency.