Protect your equipment to minimize downtime

One of the world’s largest metal fabrication events is in Chicago this November. Fabtech offers four days of speakers and breakout sessions. But I haven’t seen any sessions about proactive maintenance and reliability – and I’m concerned. In an age when we depend so heavily on CNCs, PLCs, computer and electronic controls, and drive systems, shouldn’t avoiding downtime be a major topic of conversation?

I get it – everybody is selling something. But mitigating downtime isn’t a nice-to-have. The ability to manage this time impacts the bottom line.

Engineering, operations, and maintenance can come together to improve system reliability at a low cost. Haake Manufacturing is a great example. This precision sheet metal fabricator prides itself on state-of-the-art equipment and top-notch service. But like anyone else, Haake is susceptible to downtime. Its fiber optic lasers, robotic bending equipment, and CNC punching require special care.

Several years ago, CBG Technology worked with Haake to develop and install a surge protection and filtering system. It guards Haake’s sensitive equipment from lightning and internally generated transients. Reg Stockwell, president of Haake, approved the project. He told me, “We’ve had a couple of storm-related incidents. Customer service is our number-one priority, so missed deadlines are not at option.”

CBG heard that loud and clear. We installed the system and eliminated the storm-related impact to the sensitive controllers. Haake is clearly a success story, but it’s not the only one.

Sturm Ruger experienced considerable machine downtime. This firearms manufacturer was replacing at least one motion axis drive every month and experiencing a loss of production.

As Sturm Ruger shared with Plant Services magazine, they addressed this unacceptable downtime with a multi-faceted approach. First, they replaced preventative maintenance with condition-based maintenance. Then, the team took on an equipment stress protection project. This traced one root cause back to electrical transients causing failures and machine restarts. The team installed high-speed clamping/filtering transient voltage surge suppression (TVSS) units from Total Protection Solutions.

Since the install, Sturm Ruger hasn’t had costly axis drive replacements. And it’s avoided generating scrap from marginal and failing axis drives. The project was even expanded to include additional areas and TPS suppressors were installed to protect the plant’s low-voltage lighting.

The word is getting out. But many folks still don’t understand the basics.

Most surges are less than 1000 volts. You need solid surge protection with tight filtering that’s designed to handle these low-magnitude events. Otherwise, the transients will hurt your performance and longevity. And they’re happening all the time. As long as your equipment is operating, these internally generated, high-frequency transients are happening inside your facility. And they’re causing gradual degradation to electrical components.

An enhanced transient filter is imperative. It will help you sustain performance, reduce glitches, and protect your equipment.

Obviously, I’m passionate about this protection. If you’re ready to learn more, give me a call at 479-244-0480. And if you’ll be at Fabtech, let me know. We can grab a cup of coffee and talk about how to make sure your business is protected.