How Lean Manufacturing Can Result In Happy Customers and Reduced Costs

Does it seem like your maintenance staff is constantly putting out “fires?” Or that your production equipment is always running to failure requiring industrial electronics repair and causing unplanned work stoppages?

Lean manufacturing may be the answer.  Lean manufacturing concepts aren’t new but they are gaining momentum…and for good reason.

By implementing some lean manufacturing strategies, you can track equipment breakdowns, schedule preventive maintenance, and anticipate needs for maintenance parts.   Benefits include:

  • Waste elimination
  • Defect reduction
  • Productivity maximization
  • Engaging  your work force as a team

All manufacturers can benefit from lean strategies; however, mid- and large-size operations benefit most from embedding maintenance personnel with the operators.  Under lean manufacturing, operators conduct daily maintenance inspections from checklists for performance and safety criteria.

The operators, rather than special maintenance staff, clean, inspect and change filters on their machines and check gauges to make sure the equipment is operating correctly.  Operators can then quickly alert maintenance personnel to safety issues or machine problems correcting them immediately.

There are a number of lean tools that can be applied to your maintenance function to improve equipment performance and reliability.  Here are just a few:

  • 5-S (sort, straighten, scrub/shine, standardize, and sustain)
  • Eliminate the “Seven Deadly Wastes” (overproduction, waiting, transportation, processing, inventory, motion and defects)
  • Standardize workflow
  • Value-stream mapping
  • Just-in-time
  • Autonomation (which means quality at the source)
  • Mistake-proofing

Leaning out their maintenance is working for many manufacturers today.  Maintaining your machines in a preventive mode instead of running them to failure helps you meet your customer’s production expectations.  There is tons of information to be found online about each of these strategies.

When your machines are scheduled for maintenance we are there to provide the electronics repair with expert service for power supplies, touch screens, printed circuit boards, test equipment, servo motors, servo drives, spindle drives, AC/DC/VFD drives, cnc equipment, encoders, plc’s stepper motors, and more.

Install a Variable Speed Drive And Reap The Rewards

Looking to save energy?  Trying to gain speed and torque control?  Wishing you could control your starting current?  Variable speed drives can do just that and more which means you will reap the rewards quickly.

Unless you run your motors at full speed all the time, variable speed drives (VSD) may be something you should look into purchasing.

Other benefits of a VSD/VFD include:

  • Reduces power line disturbances which eliminates voltage sags
  • Controls stops which reduces mechanical wear and breakage
  • Adjusts operating speed which can optimize the process
  • Eliminates mechanical components such as gearboxes by letting the motor and drive handle the speed and torque needs
  • Reduces power demand during startup surges which can cut utility charges for demand factors
  • Controls starting current by starting your motor with 50%-70% of the full-load current, plus the load extending the life of the motor
  • Eliminates the reversing starter along with the related maintenance
  • Collects data to detect motor, drive and wiring problems, deterioration of driven equipment, changes in process conditions, energy consumption, and much more

Most drive manufacturers have modeling software that lets users see the impact using a drive will have on their system.  This is often a free service on their websites so you don’t have to call in a sales rep until you are ready.

VFDs are hardy workhorses.  Some manufacturers advertise 200,000+ hours of mean time between failures.   So how much maintenance will that VFD require?  Actually, VFD maintenance is not too complicated. Like all of your valuable equipment, it will need regular maintenance.  We recently posted some good VFD maintenance tips.

If you’ve already reached the point of  needing drive or motor repair you will likely need to go the professional repair route.  Most drives are not only repairable, but worth repairing rather than replacing.

If it’s still under warranty, contact your OEM.  If it is out of warranty, contact an independent industrial electronic repair center.  They should offer free evaluations for your VFD and, if needed, a free quote for repairs.  They should also provide repair reports and a good warranty that covers both parts and labor.

About the Author:  ACS Industrial Services is an independent industrial electronic repair center providing repair services for drives of all types including vf drive repairs, servo motors, encoders, printed circuit boards, monitors and touchscreens, PLCs, test equipment, and much more.  Our customer service team is available to answer your questions and help solve your industrial electronic repair concerns. You can reach them by calling 800-605-6419.

Love It or Hate It, Your Touch Screen Needs a Little Understanding

touch panelTouch screen monitors have virtually kicked their conventional CRT and LCD cousins to the curb.  You may love your touch screen, or you may hate it, but there it is…staring you in the face and begging for a little understanding.  Touch screen repair and maintenance are not as intimidating as you may think.

First off, there are three basic types of touch screens:

Resistive – Has a multi-layer screen that detects electrical changes from your touch.

Capacitive – Touch transfers some of the electrical charge, so the charge on the capacitive layer decreases sending a signal.  Capacitive screens have a clearer picture than resistive due to a large transmission of light from the monitor.

Surface acoustic wave -two transducers (one receiving and one sending) are placed along the x and y axes of the monitor’s glass plate.  Glass reflectorssend a signal  from one transducer to the other.  No metallic layers on the screen allows for 100-percent light throughput and perfect image clarity. Yup,  they’re the best.

Most Common Touch Screen Failures:

–  Worn or scratched membrane

–  Driver Failure

–  Aging components

–  Software corruption

–  Physical damage

Most Common Touch Screen Repairs:

–  Membrane replacement

–  Driver repair or new driver installation

–  Adjustment and calibration

–  Operational testing

–  Replacement of aging components

As for physical damage, this is sometimes the death knell of a touch screen.  Fits of anger and frustration directed at your touch screen are not a good idea.  However, sometimes, even damaged touch screens are indeed repairable and it is a good idea to get an expert opinion from an industrial electronic repair firm.

Practice preventive maintenance to keep your touch screen functional for as long as possible.  You should get several years of good use before you need touch screen repair services.

Are Wireless Control Applications In Your Future?

Considering wireless?   There are lots of reasons to consider wireless remote I/O systems and we’re hearing more about it every day – you probably are too.  You might be considering adding a remote I/O to an older PLC, PLC repair or upgrade, or installing an entirely new system.  Our customers say they want control solutions that are easy to implement, reliable, and cost effective. 

As of the moment, there are five wireless solutions to consider:

Bluetooth – good for short distances up to 100 meters and small numbers of devices (up to 8).

WiFi – standard for fixed short distances up to 160 meters.

Zigbee – this is proprietary technology with low power requirements, good for short distances, up to 64,000 nodes can be connected; this technology is too new, so too soon to comment on reliability and support

Cellular – good for long distances where there are multiple cellular service towers

Proprietary RF – these systems are getting good reviews right now; good for longer distances of up to 40 miles with high gain antennae; higher levels of security, low frequency range with good coverage, narrower range of applications

Carefully consider the following before investing in a particular wireless control system:

Failsafe features – what happens if the link is interrupted by a power failure or electrical storm?

Security-‘ nuff said

Expansion Options

Setup & Testing – how difficult? Identify glitches and potential problems

Mounting Options



Wireless can sometimes be the only way to go when hard wiring is just not possible.  Considerations might include whether man-made barriers such as highways and buildings might be blocking wiring routes or geographical barriers such as rivers and mountains.  Large rural distribution systems also present challenges.  Industries that are applying this technology today are the water and waste water treatment utilities, the oil and gas industry, and process plants undergoing expansion. 

Consider all your options and don’t cheat on the due diligence before you invest in the newest technology, or when you pursue needed PLC or I/O board repair services.

Top Four Reasons For Circuit Board Failure – What’s Up With Yours?

damaged circuit boardAh, our little green friends…the printed circuit board. Taken for granted until they fail, circuit boards are key to the operation of virtually everything these days. So if you are suspicious, or even absolutely certain, that your circuit board is the problem, you may need some advice as well as circuit board repair or replacement.

Always remember the Electronic Axis of Evil: Moisture, Heat, and Dirt. If you can avoid these, your circuit boards will last longer.

Four Top Reasons For Circuit Board Failure and Tips to Identify The Problems & Causes:

1. Discrete Component Failure. (Includes capacitors, resistors, zener diodes, diodes, GALs, PALs, IC's, Microprocessors, Driver Chips) Causes of failure: normal component aging, excessive heat, over or under voltage surges and sags, rises in ESR (equivalent series resistance) values, corrosion and drying (esp. of electrolytic capacitors). These problems can sometimes be visible to the naked eye such as blown/burned components or obvious corrosion, but usually these items need to be checked with meters.

2. Power Component Failure. (Includes transformers, transistors, IGBT modules, rectifiers).  Causes of failure: heat, over or under voltage, normal component aging. Some problems can be visible such as exploded components, or, more often, they could look perfectly good and require meter testing of each component.

3. Trace Damage. (These are the conductive pathways, tracks or signal traces etched from copper/silver coated sheets and laminated onto the non-conductive substrate) Causes of failure: power surges, lightning strikes, use of inappropriate acid core solder causing shorts, contamination such as metallic dust. Trace damage is often visible to the naked eye and can often, though not always, be repaired.

4. Physical damage – This is plain, old damage such as when your NASCAR-wannabe forklift driver skewers it like a sausage on a grill. Don't think it doesn't happen…we've seen it! This is sometimes repairable; replacement is often the only option.

Repairing printed circuit boards can be a bit like surgery: lots of testing, probing and prepping followed by precise repair work and retesting before the patient is ready to go back to work. The good news is, your board is most likely repairable.