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PROCESS AUTOMATION


a product in place while it’s subjected to different tests. One of these tests could be scanning the product for defects, such as missing screws, damage or incorrect dimensions, by moving the rig along a motorised conveyor belt to a vision system. Another assessment where automation is


beneficial is tensile testing, where the product is pulled and then monitored when it deforms or snaps to measure its resistance to breaking under tension. This is often used on metal alloys to discover how they perform under different loads. Products in powder or liquid form may


undergo viscosity testing, where a motorised stirrer moves through the product and sensors detect its resistance. This could be used in product development or for testing batches in the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food and beverage industries. Another experiment that benefits from


automation is accelerated life testing, which subjects a product to conditions such as heat, vibration and pressure in excess in order to uncover potential faults in a short amount of time. This could be, for example, turning a light


THE BENEFITS OF PRECISE AUTOMATION


Dave Walsha, sales manager at EMS, looks at how reliable micromotors are achieving process precision in manufacturing automation


process automation over the next two years. Automated equipment can perform to exact requirements, making it inherently advantageous in testing and control. Developments in robotics have allowed


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automated equipment to become increasingly sophisticated, performing tasks with superior speed and accuracy. For instance, a hospital in Oxford found a surgical robot could perform an eye surgery with ten times more precision than a human surgeon alone. It’s not just the medical sector that can capitalise on the high accuracy of automated machines –manufacturers can too. Manufacturers who adopt automated


production lines gain a high level of control over the assembly process, which minimises waste from defected goods and ensures a consistently high quality product. These benefits have contributed to the record high of 2.7 million industrial robots operating in factories around the world in 2020. Automated equipment can be digitally


programmed to perform tasks to exact measurements, demonstrating repeatability unmatched by human workers. For instance, when properly calibrated, it’s possible for a six- axis industrial robot to achieve a position


WC’s UK Manufacturing Operations Pulse Survey 2021 found almost half of UK manufacturers are prioritising robotic


repeatability of 0.1 mm or better. There are a number of production stages


that can benefit from the precision of automated equipment. For example, a torque controlled power screwdriver ensures each screw in the workpiece is turned to the exact same level of tightness, avoiding loose or over-tightened screws.


production lines gain a high level of control over the assembly process





Manufacturers who adopt automated


In addition, an automated dosing pump can


supply the exact amount of materials, such as adhesives, lubricants or sealants, required to the target product area. As well as preventing waste and avoiding contamination of other product parts, precise supply helps meet the miniaturisation trend, aiding the assembly of products with ever decreasing sizes. However, the benefits of precise automated





equipment aren’t restricted to product manufacturing, they’re also advantageous in testing. For example, an automated testing rig with a motorised locking mechanism can hold


switch on and off multiple times a second, or repeatedly putting pressure on a chair. Not only would these testing tasks be highly


monotonous for human workers, but they would also take much longer to perform than an automated system. High performance motors can power an automated system to perform these mechanical tests repeatedly at a fast rate with no human intervention. It’s important that automated industrial


equipment are matched with advanced motor systems that deliver reliable power. All FAULHABER motors are of consistent quality and perform with fine accuracy. The motors are renowned for their high


power density, providing enough torque for demanding automated processes such as performing mechanical tests. Their compact construction adds minimal weight and bulk to systems, aiding automated equipment that require fine control and swift movements, such as dosing pumps. The FAULHABER brushless motors are suitable


for automated systems, as they provide a long life with a wide speed range. They also have a range of compatible motion controllers that create an advanced, programmable drive system with easy and accurate control that is simple to integrate into an automated system. Many manufacturers are focusing on


automation in their future development plans. Motorised equipment brings high levels of accuracy and precision to production lines and testing facilities, ensuring only consistently high quality products reach customers.


EMS www.ems-limited.com


JULY/AUGUST 2021 | PROCESS & CONTROL 45


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