3 Key Tips to Extend the Life of Your Printed Circuit Boards

printed circuit board repairsAs you probably know by now, printed circuit boards don’t last forever.  Not even the very expensive ones inside your industrial equipment.   But did you know that you can extend the life of your circuit boards? And, potentially put off the need for circuit board repairs a little longer?

The number one reason printed circuit boards need repair is aging components.  There’s not much you can do about that.   But, what about the second biggest reason they end up in repair? That is damage caused by dirt, heat, moisture, and neglect/accidents.  Now THAT is something you  CAN control.

Here’s 3 key tips to save money with good circuit board maintenance:

  1. Clean house. – Clean the dust that accumulates on the PCB boards every 3-6 months. You can also use special cleaning fluid designed for electronics. After all the dust and dirt is cleaned, use a blower to dry the boards before reinstalling them or using the equipment.
  2. Be Proactive – Why wait until your line goes down to troubleshoot…that’s just expensive down time with a side dish of aggravation. Regularly check your PCB components to look for obvious trace damage (usually caused by overheating). Look for burn marks, solder blobs, and broken traces. Check the electrolytic capacitors for bulging or leakage.  Anyone can do this as these are all obvious problems and require no test equipment.

Also, check connectors for signs of corrosion which is common, especially with edge connectors. They can be gently cleaned with an eraser and soft, lint-free/static-free cloth.  Corrosion is a sign of excess moisture so to avoid future damage, find out where the moisture is coming from and eliminate it if possible.

If you are using a device coated with thermal grease, you should check to see if the thermal grease is dried.   If it has become overly dry, gently wipe it out and then coat with new thermal grease to aid with heat dissipation – especially important since we know that too much heat will result in damage.

  1. Protect your PCBs with Good Storage and Handling Techniques
  • Store your electronic equipment in Moisture Vapor Barrier Bags (MVBs). Thicker is better so buy the best you can afford. Vacuum and heat seal the bags to remove as much air as possible.
  • Use desiccant bags to absorb moisture and include a moisture/humidity card which can detect any moisture.   This will let you know if the storage bag has been compromised.
  • Keep your spare circuit boards at a consistent and cool temperature – between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit
  • If you have many circuit boards or other electronics stored, invest in the best moisture-free environment you can afford. Best choice is a Dry Atmosphere Cabinet to maintain a very low humidity (>5% Relative Humidity). By using this type of cabinet you can forego the MVBs.
  • Locate your electronics storeroom away from dirt, temperature extremes, and moisture, as well as excess vibration. It is best if you have a dedicated and secure Storeroom with strict access records on what parts come and go.

If your industrial circuit board has lasted a solid 10 years before failure – congratulations! You’re doing something right! But if the time has come for repairs and you find yourself searching for a repair center for your damaged electronics, check first to see if your equipment is still under warranty.  If it is still under warranty contact the OEM about repairs.

If it is out of warranty, contact an independent industrial electronic repair center to find out if they are a good fit for your company and your particular repair needs. They should offer free evaluations for your damaged equipment and, if needed, a free quote for repairs (no bench fees!).  They should also provide repair reports if requested and a good warranty of at least one year that covers both parts and labor.

 

About the Author: ACS Industrial Services is an independent industrial electronic repair center providing repairs for all types of industrial electronic equipment and most all manufacturers including circuit board repairs, logic board repairs, repairs for industrial power supplies, drives, servo motors, CNC equipment, encoders, monitor and touchscreen repairs, test equipment, light curtains, and much more. Rush Service is available and a comprehensive 2-Year Warranty covers most repairs.  The customer service team is available to answer your questions and help solve your industrial electronic repair problems. You can reach them by calling 800-605-6419 or going to www.acsindustrial.com.

Help for Water Damaged Industrial Electronic Equipment

Bosch circuit board with water damage

This corroded, water damaged circuit board was repairable!

Has it rained near you in the past 48 hours?  Probably.  Nearly every state in the U.S. has experienced heavy rains and flooding this spring.  With the floods came the resulting water damaged industrial electronic equipment.  Seems like there is always another storm right behind the last one with barely a chance to catch your breath and assess the damage.

Water and electronics are not friends. They are about as likely as Steelers and Ravens fans to make nice. If your best efforts to keep your industrial electronics dry have failed, do not despair.  Water damaged electronics, as well as overheated electronics (for you parched Californians) are often repairable.

If your facility has been hit by flooding and you think you might need industrial electronic equipment repairs, ACS can help.  There is NO COST for evaluating your equipment.  Our expert electronic repair team has experience with:

  • Printed circuit boards
  • Power supplies
  • Drives – Servo, AC, DC, VFD
  • Servo Motors
  • Encoders, Tachs, and Resolvers
  • PLCs & Process controllers
  • HMIs & Operator Controls
  • Monitors & Touchscreens
  • CNC Equipment
  • And much more – if it is electronic and comes out of an industrial plant, we can probably repair it.

Got questions?  Call or message our always-helpful customer service team if you think you might need power supply repairs, servo motor repairs, monitor repairs, servo drive repairs, circuit board repairs, or any other industrial electronic repairs.  We can help  you determine the reparability of your water-logged industrial electronics and get them back into service for you, quickly and efficiently.

You can reach us at 800-605-6419 or go directly to our website at www.acsindustrial.com  for more information or to request a free evaluation for your damaged industrial electronics.

We’ve got our boots, umbrellas, and in some cases KAYAKS at the ready so we can be in the shop to repair your equipment.  Here in Maryland by the end of the week it will become the wettest June on record, and that includes June 1972! (Hurricane Agnes for you youngsters).   Flooded roads, washed out bridges, home power outages and hail damage have not stopped us yet!  Carry on!

About the Author: ACS Industrial Services is an independent industrial electronic repair center providing repairs for all types of industrial electronic equipment and most all manufacturers including power supply repairs, circuit boards, drives, servo motors, CNC equipment, encoders, monitors and touchscreens, test equipment, light curtains, and much more.  Rush Service is available and Two Year Warranties cover most repairs.  The customer service team is available to answer your questions and help solve your industrial electronic repair problems. You can reach them by calling 800-605-6419 or going to www.acsindustrial.com.

Eight Tips to Keep Your CNC Machine Working Better and Longer

Expert Charmilles CNC Circuit Board RepairsThink about it…if you go to the doctor and he or she treats only your obvious symptoms, are you cured?  Probably not.  Sooner or later the problem will return.  Getting at the root cause of the problem is key to the cure for both humans and machines.

For example, how many times have you or, let’s say somebody you know, replaced a damaged circuit board, only to have the same problem happen again?  The circuit board often takes one on the chin for the team!

To protect your CNC equipment, you must first recognize (and eliminate/reduce) the repeat offenders:  heat, dirt, corrosion, vibration, moisture, current surges, and voltage transients.  Here are eight tips for preventing and dealing with your CNC machines and the control circuit board:

  1. Keep the air flowing, especially in sealed cabinets.  Air conditioning is nice, but expensive.  Just keeping the air flowing past these machines is often enough.  Keep the cooling fan and duct filter clean and functional by inspecting at least every six months.
  2. If problems develop with your CNC, make sure to zero out the machine and move the spindle into the home position before troubleshooting.
  3. Keep things dry and clean.  No sloppy pigs in the machine shop!  (Unless they are soaking up oil!)  Corrosion and dirt are some nasty customers but you may be able to avoid repairs, at least for a little while longer, by simply removing the board and reinstalling /reseating it.  Which doesn’t cost you anything!  The simple action of removing the board is often enough to loosen built up corrosion residue or dirt and reestablish a good connection to buy yourself  some time before you need circuit board repairs.
  4. Lubrication and air are your CNC’s good friends.  Make sure it is getting enough of both.  If the air pressure or oil pressure get too low, the machine will not continue running properly costing you time and money.
  5. Clean out the chip drawer.  I repeat…no sloppy pigs in the shop!  Overfull chip boxes inhibit coolant flow creating excess heat which is never good.
  6. Inspect, or if necessary get someone who knows how to inspect your motor and your memory storage batteries.  Change the batteries for your RAM memory once a year  so you can rest easy knowing that if there is a power failure you will not lose critical information. Don’t forget to back up first!
  7. Have a SPARE circuit board configured and set with the proper dip switch setting if needed and know where it is.  Your CNC machine will invariably break down during a rush job and you will be glad to have that spare.  During slower times, load the spare circuit board into the machine just to test it.
  8. Last but not least, when you finally do need repairs, tell your service provider everything.  Having all the information will speed up the evaluation and repair process.

When you do need CNC circuit board repairs, choose a reputable industrial electronic repair shop that provides free evaluations, good service, and a solid warranty.

Winning Solution For “Jerry-Rigged” Circuit Boards

Unique Solutions for Unrepairable Circuit Boards

Three New Circuit Boards Made From One Original

Sometimes we receive some pretty mysterious repair jobs on the old loading dock.  Recently we received three printed circuit boards that were so, so, well, so “jerry-rigged” that we were wondering how they ever worked in the first place what with the point to point hand wiring, jumpers, and patches all over them.  (Truth is, sometimes I miss the old days working on that loading dock…every day it is full of surprises!)

These “jerry-rigged” circuit board repairs were going to take a lot of man-hours and the cost was going to be pretty high.  The solution we offered this customer was to build them some brand new boards in-house at ACS rather than repair the scary boards – and for lower cost than it would have been to repair them!  Sometimes, the solution to the problem is staring you in the face and you just have to go with it.

There were actually four PCB’s needing repair in this shipment, three as described and one more than had been professionally manufactured.   Ultimately, copying the professional board to make the three new ones provided this customer with a more reliable solution, as well as having the added benefit of being able to reproduce them on-demand in the future from the files that were created.  This was a winning solution in every way.

ACS Industrial Services is here for you.  We want to make sure you always get the best solution that meets your needs in the time you need it.

Highlights of 4th Quarter Manufacturing Survey of North American Manufacturers

MFG.com has reported the latest MFGWatch survey results for the 4th quarter and they are both interesting and heartening in some areas.  The survey represents a cross section of industries including consumer products, machinery tools & equipment, textiles, aerospace, automotive, medical, and defense.  Here’s a quick view of the highlights:

  • 53% of respondents reported growth in company sales with only 18% reporting a decline.
  • 26% increased their staff, 57% stayed the same (but purchased more technology), and 14% reported a decrease in staff.
  • 22% returned production into or closer to North America from a low-cost country while 69% did not
  • 23%, however, reported they are researching bringing some of their production into or closer to North America while 46% said they would not
  • The top 4 important factors threatening sourcing or supply chain strategies were:  Logistics & Shipping costs (37%); Product Quality Compliance (37%); Availability of Competent Suppliers (35%) and
    Fuel/Oil prices (29%)
  • 27% reported they will be increasing their exports to foreign markets while only 2% said they would decrease exports
  • The top 5 issues having the most impact on the economic & competitive future of manufacturing in their regions were:  Operating Costs (51%); Access to Capital (35%); Logistics, Shipping & Energy Costs (34%); Extensive Government Regulations 31% ; Availability of Qualified Labor (31%)

There is more detail and plenty of graphs to be found in the full article on www.MFG.com.

ACS Industrial provides expert industrial electronic repair services to all of these industries and more.  If you need industrial electronic services such as servo motor repair, circuit board repair, cnc equipment repair, touch screen or monitor repair, plc repair or other similar services on a large or small scale our professional service technicians are here to help.  Contact our customer service reps at 800-605-6419 or you can go directly to our website at www.acsindustrial.com for more information or to submit an online repair form.

Are Voltage Regulators Really Necessary?

Get Fast & Accurate Quotes for Expert Industrial Electronic RepairsThe answer to this question could be “it depends”, but I’m going to go right out to end of the tree limb and say the answer is “yes”, voltage regulators are necessary, even here in the United States where the delivery of power is pretty consistent.

Consistent to the extent that it is better than in developing nations, but perfectly consistent? No.  In the U.S. there is a voltage drop of about 3-15% from the point where the electrical service delivers the power to where the power is actually consumed within any given industrial facility, mainly due to wire impedance.

3-15% may sound inconsequential, but multiply this repeatedly and you start to get the picture.  This is especially true for critical or highly sensitive machinery such as MRI and oncology equipment in medical facilities, and recording equipment.

Over time, voltage sags, surges, and variations cause equipment damage, diminish equipment life span, cause digital errors and memory reboots, and production delays which cost you more money by way of:

Ask yourself two questions: What does it cost per hour when your system is down?  How much will it cost to restart the system?  That should tell you whether automatic voltage regulation is important to your operation.

Automatic voltage regulators (AVRs) come in too many sizes, types and applications to list them all.  They can be as tiny as a component on a circuit board and as large as a tractor trailer. Voltage regulation is also the ultimate purpose of units referred to as power conditioners and usually combine that function with voltage drop compensation, surge suppression, short circuit protection, phase to phase voltage balancing, line noise reduction, harmonic  filtering, and more.

To know which of the following sample of AVR’s you will need, you will definitely want to do your homework with your engineer, electrician, and sales reps:

  • Ferroresonant transformer
  • Forroresonant voltage regulator
  • Tap changer
  • Tap-switching voltage regulator
  • Servo voltage regulator
  • Servo voltage stabilizer
  • Motorized variac
  • Variable autotransformer
  • Line drop compensator
  • Step voltage regulator
  • Electronic voltage regulator
  • Constant voltage transformer
  • Magnetic induction voltage regulator
  • On-load tap changer

And that’s just some of the options.

By the way, we do not sell voltage regulator equipment.  We do however repair industrial electronic
equipment and we see the results of this damage every day.  We can repair your damaged equipment and are happy to do so, but we know you would much rather avoid preventable repairs.

If you find yourself in the aggravating situation of needing industrial electronic repair services such as power supply repairs, servo motor repairs, plc repairs, drive repairs, encoder repairs, circuit board repairs, cnc equipment repairs you can click on any of these links or call our helpful customer service reps at 800-605-6419.  ACS Industrial Services is here to get you back up and running full speed ahead!

The Secret to Success is Not Keeping Success a Secret

Get Great Customer Service With Your Industrial Electronic Repairs at ACSJust yesterday I was listening to a sports interviewer (who shall go unnamed) baiting Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens by suggesting the team was great but  “stuck” with QB Joe Flacco.  It made me think for a few minutes about why Joe Flacco does not seem to get the media respect that he statistically deserves.  As  I explained to two of my three sons (while waiting for the school bus at 6:20 a.m.!), maybe it’s because he is a pretty low key guy and does not spend much time, for better or worse, tooting his own horn.

After the big yellow school bus pulled away, I thought about this some more and applied it to our business.  An “Aha!” moment.  The secret to success is NOT keeping success a secret – but with at least some degree of dignity.  That same day I received a note from one of our customers that went like this:

“I think everyone at ACS is so prompt and professional and it’s actually a pleasure doing business with ACS. I recommend ACS to everyone I do business with.”

Now, we get quite a few comments like this which reassures me our customer service team members are absolutely the best.  Great repairs are important, but the process shouldn’t be painful.  Superior customer service is the sweet spot…the great differentiator.

If you’ve been getting the runaround from your industrial electronic repair house, give our team a call at 800-605-6419.  We promise we will do everything possible to
get your industrial electronics repaired and returned to you quickly and in good working order … with a pleasant and helpful attitude.

Visit our ACS Industrial Services website too where you can find info on all types of industrial electronic repair services from circuit board repairs to servo drive repairs to monitor & touch screen repairs.  And if you have comments, praise, or yes, even complaints, please let us know.  We do want to hear from you.

And as a final thought, what was that guy thinking baiting Terrell Suggs?!  Hasn’t he seen what this guy does to opposing quarterbacks?  I suspect even Pittsburgh’s Big Ben Roethlisberger dreads facing Mr. Suggs on game day because he knows the next day he is going to be hurting!  Go Ravens!!