The future of machine design Developing machines that not only have a degree of

future-proofing built in but also support the demands of the connected IIoT environment are key requirements for a machine builder today, as Paul Davies, solutions architect, Architecture & Software at Rockwell Automation, explains


aking the time to truly understand the needs of the customer is vital

when designing and building machinery. In industry today, however, many end users are transitioning to the requirements of the connected IIoT environment, so the most successful machine builders need to be delivering machines capable of going on this journey with the customer.

Many end users are transitioning to the requirements of the connected IIoT environment, so machine builders need to be delivering machines capable of this

MEETING REQUIREMENTS Design, development and delivery are three essential requirements for machine building. Design: From a design perspective,

OEMs need to produce machines as quickly and cost effectively as possible. So, during the building process, the


In conventional compressor designs, oil is injected into the compression cavities to improve sealing and reduce pressure drop, while also helping to dissipate heat during the air compression cycle. This, however, may allow small quantities of oil vapour and suspended aerosols to enter the compressed air supply, which can be an issue if the end products are pharmaceuticals or foodstuffs. While ‘oil-free’ machines (based on rotary screw or piston compressors) were developed, these still

use oil to some extent, have many moving parts and consume large amounts of energy. With many industries requiring a high level of cleanliness in the compressed air that is delivered to

their processes and manufacturing operations, demand is growing for the development of even cleaner, 100% ‘oil-free’ compressor technologies. Some of these industries – such as fish farming, glass-making, solids handling and water treatment – have a particular requirement for high-purity compressed air. They do, however, need it at lower pressures than are normally required by manufacturing operations that use multiple pneumatic tools and assembly cells fed from a seven bar compressed air circuit. This demand for low pressure air has opened up new opportunities for compressor manufacturers to reassess the mechanical and electrical designs of their compressors. They are taking advantage of emerging technologies, as well as technologies drawn from other advanced engineering sectors such as aerospace, to establish new standards for energy efficiency, environmental performance and life-cycle costs. An alternative approach to conventional ‘oil-free’ compressor designs for the high-pressure sector,

which replaces the more commonly used rotary screw and piston configuration with ‘high speed turbo’ (HST) single impeller technology, was introduced some time ago by the compressor manufacturer, BOGE. This new approach makes use of permanent magnet motors and air bearings to boost operating efficiencies, while at the same time totally eliminating the need for oil lubrication in any part of the compressor’s drive mechanisms. While this technology was originally developed for BOGE’s HST series machines, the company recently

embarked on a project to adapt one of these – the HST 220 model – by removing its third compression stage and creating a two-stage, ‘low pressure turbo’ (LPT) machine. This particular unit – the LPT 150 – is targeted at the growing low pressure sector and is capable of supplying air at pressures of up to four bar. Because of their air-guided motor shaft design, Class 0 LPT machines require no lubrication. The

compressor shaft is driven by a high-efficiency, high energy density permanent magnet motor and is supported at each end by air bearings. Unlike the magnetic bearings that are frequently used to support the shafts of high-end turbo

compressors, air bearings do not require fault tolerant power supplies and complex control electronics. Instead, they provide both radial and axial air cushioning in an almost frictionless arrangement that comprises very few moving parts. As a result, the system is wear-free and maintenance requirements are virtually non-existent. The combination of permanent magnet motor and air bearings also allows for a far more compact build space. For example, an LPT Class 0 compressor is around half the size and weight of traditional oil-free machines, while running at noise levels of around 63dBA, more than 20% less than a traditional screw compressor. Moreover, the combination of high-efficiency, inverter controlled, gear-less motor technology and the aforementioned reduced maintenance requirement delivers a total cost of ownership that is at least 30% lower than that of a traditional screw compressor.

BOGE Compressors Author: Carl Sharpe, UK and Ireland sales manager, BOGE.

Rockwell Automation

12 OCTOBER 2018 | DESIGN SOLUTIONS 

machines need to be under constant scrutiny to ensure they are as efficient and simple as possible. Development: The machines need to be flexible enough to fit existing customer environments and infrastructure. This means that, where possible, using open architecture for control and engineering requirements is vital. The machine must also meet evolving

demands for flexibility – both from the point of view of the end user and the customer. Giving the end user the capability to, for example, change the size, shape, flavour or packaging varieties will make the machine more valuable. Combining the hardware requirements for that flexibility with simple, open, control and software applications that allow for quick change-overs of product lines makes for a compelling package to meet the demands of modern production. Delivery: End users have many

traditional requirements, such as machine availability (uptime) and efficiency, as well as newer considerations around connectivity – such as visibility of machine data that will allow them to further improve the yield or reduce the costs of running the machine. To that end, building in analytics packages that feed data back to the end user (and potentially to the OEM) is important. With remote monitoring dashboards of information about the machine’s OEE, machine builders can offer servitisation models, as well as complete the loop back to improving the design of the machine according to experience of how the models perform in real terms. Wherever end users are on their own

journey, with any CAPEX they will need to know that the machine they are buying has a degree of future-proofing built in. By nurturing the relationship with their end user, exploiting IIoT connectivity and striving for open flexibility, machine builders have every opportunity to benefit from the trend shift towards calculating TCO.

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