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AUTOMATION UPDATE

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Issue 74


Power Security & Back-Up

Instruments Ltd

DC UPS

CBI Series Input 90-305 V AC Output 12/24/48 V DC upto 20 A MODbus / CANbus Comms Remote Monitoring via ethernet Status Relay

Battery Chargers CB Series Input 90-305 V AC Output 12/24/48 V DC upto 20 A MODbus / CANbus Comms Remote Monitoring via ethernet Status Relay

Power Supplies

FLEX Series Input 90-500 V AC Output 12/24/48 V DC upto 25 A Single / Dual or 3 Phase inputs

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Multifunction Meters | CTs, VTs and Shunts | Transducers | Energy Meters - MID Bargraphs | Earth Leakage Relays | Protection Relays | Battery Chargers | Power Supplies DC UPS | Generator Controllers | Remote Monitoring | Ventilation Control

S

Instruments Ltd

TVR Instruments Limited 143 Butt Road, Colchester CO3 3DP Essex United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 1206 575755 Email: sales@tvri.co.uk www.tvri.co.uk

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AUTOMATION UPDATE Editorial Assistant Laura Sharpe 01843 580 460 laura@automation-update.co.uk Publishing Director Jodie Little 01843 580 460 jodie@jetdigitalmedia.co.uk Sales Director Tim Johnston 01843 448 443 tim@automation-update.co.uk Advertising Exec Jamie Simmons 01843 580 460 jamie@automation-update.co.uk

Automation Update is an engaging, editorially led publication & directory giving the reader news and updates on new products and services to our ever Progressing industry.

Publishing House Jet Digital Media Ltd The Forge, Spratling Court Offices, Manston, Kent CT12 5AN

www.automation-update.co.uk

Forerunner Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. The Sensor People have been setting technological standards in industrial automation for more than 50 years. In the field of safety at work, we convince right from the start with trend-setting inventions, such as the development of the first protective sensor ever, to our latest safety innovation, “Smart Process Gating” – the space-saving solution for access guarding on conveyor lines. This is how we ensure the success of our customers in an industry that is ever evolving.

www.leuze.co.uk Automation Update - 3


Forresters: Protecting innovation and securing business success As automation continues to change the world, companies are being ranked according to their level of innovation – and each new idea puts them a step ahead of their competitors.

By protecting the design, development and production of technology with a patent, companies not only see huge commercial benefit, but they give their customers a greater level of reassurance that their investment is secure. Forresters is a leading intellectual property firm that patents technologies from a variety of industries. With its ethos of always using plain jargon-free language it’s not surprising that Forresters was recognised as one of Europe’s Leading Patent Law Firms for 2020 in the prestigious Financial Times listing. Emma Johnson, a partner at Forresters and a specialist UK and European patent and trade mark attorney, said: “Without intellectual property rights in place, businesses leave themselves open to rivals being able to replicate and sell the products or services at a lower price, without incurring any research or development costs. “It’s not just products that can be protected with patents, but also processes and even manufacturing methods. Ensuring that they have the correct protection in place can be critical for a busi4 - Automation Update

ness and mean the difference between success and failure.” Forresters doesn’t just secure patents in the UK and Europe, but across the world. At the start of 2021 the company decided to capitalise on its global reach with a new dot.com website address forresters-ip.com This new domain not only reflects the firm’s international outlook, but also shows how they have smoothly transitioned through any Brexit changes and will continue to represent clients before the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Forresters has offices in Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Munich and Southampton and they recently moved to one of London’s most iconic buildings – The Gherkin. The move is part of Forresters’ commitment to growth and sustainability, allowing it to provide an exceptional service to clients while building on its eco-conscious principles.

usually consume, making it an excellent choice for companies focussed on sustainability. Emma added: “The service we provide to our clients will continue to be seamless as we ensure they have the correct IP protection in place for a post-Brexit market.”

The Gherkin’s impressive energy-saving methods allow it to use around half the power that a similar tower would

For more information about protecting your intellectual property contact Forresters at info@forresters-ip.com or visit the website forresters-ip.com


sales@lamonde.com

     

4 Comm ports, inc Ethernet Built-in data logging to microSD Free no-limit programming Slim stackable design Multiple i/o wiring options Starter kit available

www.lamonde.com +44 (0)20 3026 2670

Lamonde Automation Limited Quality Products: Expert Advice


SICK’s Flexi Compact, Neat and Compact Mid-Range Safety Controller SICK has added the Flexi Compact to its portfolio of industry-leading safety controllers, featuring a modular, compact and scalable design that focuses on space saving, responsive performance and ease of use. The SICK Flexi Compact safety controller has been conceived with simplicity in mind, while enabling exceptionally-responsive machine operation and real-time diagnostics, suitable for most common machine safety applications. With rapid response cycle times of up to 4 ms, the SICK Flexi Compact can help to ensure spacesaving machine designs with shortestpossible safety distances. “The Flexi Compact has a pleasing, easyto-handle streamlined feel that helps save space in the control cabinet,” says Dr Martin Kidman, SICK’s UK Machine Safety Product Manager. “The CPU has a 46mm-wide slimline design that takes up much less space than many common controller configurations. It’s also really easy to achieve neat and efficient wiring with the easy push-in front connectors.” The SICK Flexi Compact is based on a versatile and expandable concept with each slim module having a one-click, fit-and-release mechanism for easy handling and exchange. There is a choice of two CPUs, each with a generous bank of 32 I/O’s, and one with an additional EtherNet connection. To this can be added 16-connector, 14mm-wide XTDI and XTDO I/O cards and up to further 12 expansion modules, ensuring futureproof scalability for when the demands on the safety controller increase. The Flexi Compact’s EtherCAT or PROFINET gateways enable wide integration flexibility to higher-level

The SICK Flexi Compact 38| easy to use real enables time diagnostics

PLCs and Industry 4.0 applications. Each gateway has a thin-film display window and push button controls for quick commissioning and easyto-use, real-time diagnostics. Rapid troubleshooting is also assured thanks to easy HMI integration via the CPU Ethernet port option, which supports both Modbus and SLMP protocols over TCP/IP. Planning and commissioning a machine safety configuration is fast and efficient with the Flexi Compact using SICK’s free-to-use Safety Designer engineering tool, providing access to 256 certified function blocks and safety logic documentation via an intuitive drag and drop graphical user interface. An integrated, removable SmartPlug with USB port enables rapid data transfer and configuration exchange for efficient set up and commissioning. A safety-certified high-speed EtherCAT backplane bus enables efficient data communication and rapid response times. As a result, safety distances to the machine can be optimised, and shorter cycle times achieved in highlydynamic processes. The new SICK Flexi Compact is a midrange safety controller for average to complex safety logic, sitting between SICK’s existing Flexi Classic and Flexi Soft safety controllers. The ease of handling, responsiveness and diagnostics combine to ensure high

The SICK Flexi Compact saves space in the control cabinet

EtherCAT or PROFINET gateways with TFT display windows and push-buttons

machine availability and productivity for many common industrial machinery applications. For more information, please contact Andrea Hornby on 01727 831121 or email andrea.hornby@sick.co.uk.

www.sick.co.uk



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he new versatile and flexible flat top chain conveyor system Versaflex is a conveyor system that grows with your requirements. It features the modular design we have come to expect with the complete mk range. The standardised modules and components make it simple and cost effective to integrate the system into any production process, as well as to adapt and expand it. Moreover, it is compatible with systems that are currently available on the market. The single-track design and curve radii starting at 150 mm allow complex track designs within a three dimensional space. The chain runs on wear strips to ensure low wear and can be operated at speeds of up to 50 m/min and system lengths up to 40 m with just one drive. The system is extremely flexible and efficient with chain widths of 44 mm to 295 mm and a large selection of drives, bends, cleats, side rails and other accessories. Gentle transport and exact positioning using workpiece carriers is also available as standard. Versaflex has been used very successfully by an mk subsidiary for many years in various industries; it transports a wide variety of products reliably to their destination. The many benefits of Versaflex include economical realisation of complex track designs with simple and fast configuration

8 - Automation Update

and commissioning. It is suitable for all industries and is both user friendly and low maintenance. Versaflex can be quickly adapted to new production and environmental conditions saving energy and space. Accessories, side rails and such like can be attached in the slots on the conveyor frame profile. The conveyor chains are made from the material POM and are available in a wide variety of designs for virtually all applications – with an adhesive surface for inclines, with steel covering for sharpedged parts or flocked for transporting very delicate items. In addition, a large number of different cleats are available – rollers in a wide range of dimensions for accumulating products, or flexible cleats for implementing clamping conveyors. Furthermore, chain links with embedded magnets can be used to transport magnetisable parts. Areas of application for Versaflex include primary and secondary-packaged products from, among others, the food, pharmaceutical, chemical or consumer goods industry. Also for the transport of workpiece carriers in assembly lines e.g. of the automotive industry and for the linking of machines in the manufacturing industry. To ensure the precise positioning of products, workpiece carriers can also be transported on the A08 system. The

system is 85 mm wide (chain width 83 mm) and is designed for products weighing up to 10 kg per carrier. The carriers have a standard width of 150 mm and are guided by side rails and positioned exactly in three levels in the locating stations. So the products are fixed, buffered and transported gently, safely and accurately. The workpiece carrier can be customised and equipped with individual fixtures. The locate station can be freely positioned without changing the side rails. A positional accuracy of ± 0.1 mm can be achieved by lifting the workpiece carrier off the conveyor chain. The Versaflex workpiece carrier system enables simple and accurate positioning for automated processes with stability even for products with unfavourable geometry. Gentle product transport can also be achieved for sensitive product surfaces. Versaflex workpiece carrier systems offer safe transport even with changes in position, higher machine autonomy and buffer function for cycle decoupling in the manufacturing process.

To find more contact mk Profile Systems on (01949) 823751, email info@mkprofiles.co.uk or visit www.mkprofiles.co.uk


Flat Top Chain Conveyor System

Economical realisation of complex track designs Simple and fast configuration and commissioning Modular system of standardised components

www.mkprofiles.co.uk


Q Electrical Industrial Services Ltd emerges from acquisition of Lothian and Borders Electrical by Quantum Controls The continued growth of new VSD Contract Partnerships and Electrical Projects has led to the acquisition of Lothian and Borders Electrical by Quantum Controls, forming Q Electrical Industrial Services. Lothian and Borders electrical is one of Scotland’s leading electrical contractors and through this acquisition Quantum now have a nationwide network of 6 Service Centres and a growing team of engineers providing a range of Electrical Services and solutions across the UK. The new Service Centre and experienced electricians will provide Electrical services such as: • Electrical Contracting Services • Electrical Installation in many industrial processes. • Turnkey projects from design to control panels, PLC programming, SCADA and Installation • 10 Variable Speed Drive Service Engineers based in Scotland. • Electronic Repairs for industrial equipment and Instrumentation

the combined skills and knowledge to offer our customers a full turnkey electrical solution. “Continued growth in our business activities in Scotland has led to this exciting new investment in the Scottish economy. The Service Centre will create a local support which will allow us to offer more services for all customers based throughout Scotland.” says Kevin Brown, Managing Director. “Establishing the new Company with Robert and Lyall Colvin who have 40 years’ experience in delivering electrical contracting services is an exciting opportunity that allows us to invest in the Scottish Economy and creating a base in Scotland to best service all our clients at a local level”. “I’m looking forward to the benefits our existing client base will receive from the acquisitional partnership and our growth throughout Scottish industry”. Lyall Colvin, Managing Director.

• Inspection & Testing

If you would like to know more about our new services in Scotland, please contact Lyall Colvin.

• Power Factor Correction

Contact Details:

Lothian and Borders Electrical Ltd have over 40 years’ experience in the electrical industry and Quantum Controls, with over 25 years’ experience as an ABB Drive Service Partner, are Official Drives Service Partners for Schneider Electric, Mitsubishi, Danfoss, Vacon, WEG and have engineers fully trained on Nidec Control Techniques and Siemens Drives. Which gives us

Lyall Colvin lyall@qelectrical.co.uk or 07775 666 306 Q Electrical Industrial Services The Cross Pencaitland East Lothian EH34 5DA www.qelectrical.co.uk

10 - Automation Update


Claim your FREE DC Motor Guide! Email us at sales@qelectrical.co.uk

All your Electrical Services and Solutions in one place Q Electrical Industrial Services, has a team of experienced engineers based in Lothian, Scotland providing services such as; • Turnkey projects from design to control panels, PLC programming, SCADA and Installation • Electrical Contracting Services • Electrical Installation in many industrial processes • Electronic Repairs for industrial equipment and Instrumentation • Inspection & Testing • Power Factor Correction The service centre is also home to 10 Variable Speed Drive Service Engineers available 24/7, providing a full turnkey electrical service centre for the Scotland and Northern UK.

IN THE EVENT OF AN ELECTRICAL EMERGENCY CALL US FOR 24/7 SUPPORT:

0330 9001 247 www.qelectrical.co.uk | 01875 816 302 | The Cross, Pencaitland, East Lothian, EH34 5DA


catastrophic failure in the event of short-term dry-running. Also, a two-piece dynamically balanced outer drive magnet with multiple pole options matches drive to motor for greater efficiency. This outer drive magnet incorporates Finish Thompson’s “Easy-set” mounting system so that the drive magnet can be fitted to the motor shaft without having to measure the magnet set-height. This ensures a perfectly set magnet which removes the potential cause of misalignment and so improves safety and reliability.

NEW OPTIONS OF LEAKFREE, MAG-DRIVE PUMPS EXTENDS CAPABILITIES

Reliable, leak-free pumping of hazardous, more challenging chemicals is a prerequisite in all chemical processing applications and sealless, magnetically driven pumps are the established preferred option. The Finish Thompson ULTRAChem (UC) Series of Tefzel (ETFE) lined centrifugal pumps represent a good example of well-engineered and durable leak-free pumps and following recent modifications there are new options resulting in extended capabilities and a wider performance envelope.

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vailable from MICHAEL SMITH ENGINEERS the UC Series of pumps now includes the UC436L model, which features smaller impeller trims to allow for lower flows and heads and the UC3210 model which has been up-rated for 2-pole motors. The new 2-pole motor option operates at a higher rotation speed than the existing model and enables the pump to generate higher flows at higher heads, thereby extending its performance range. Also, the innovative single piece snap fit impeller / inner drive magnet feature has also been extended through all models in the ULTRAChem range helping to simplify maintenance and reduce servicing costs. 12 - Automation Update

As with all the Finish Thompson ULTRAChem pumps these new options combine a tough ductile iron casing with an ETFE lining to ensure outstanding corrosion resistance and feature powerful neodymium magnets which drive the impeller through a carbon filled PTFE lined barrier for dependable, leakfree operation. In addition, the pumps incorporate other features which optimise efficiency and performance ensuring minimal wear on components, lower running costs and extended periods between routine servicing. For example, a Dri-coat silicon carbide bearing / shaft option to prevent

Other features include a Kevlar reinforced barrier which reduces the air gap between driven and driving magnet and so maximises magnetic power to transmission. Using Kevlar for the barrier reinforcement enables maximum working pressure to be increased to 300 psi (20.7 bar). These latest options and features further underline the effectiveness of ULTRAChem pumps as the ideal choice for extreme pumping applications. These typically occur in chemical manufacturing, blending and distribution, water treatment, plating and surface treatment applications, paper mills, fume scrubbers and other similar challenging situations which demand robust and reliable leak-free pumping. ENDS Further details on the range of ULTRAChem pumps can be found at: h t t p s : // w w w. m i c h a e l - s m i t h e n g i n e e r s . c o . u k /p r o d u c t s / finish-thompson/rotarycentrifugal-pumps/etfe-linedcentrifugal-uc-series


ALL A LASER CUTTER NEEDS:

Trotec launches Q Series.

Trotec has introduced a new laser cutter which could fast become a favourite for laser users.

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sing Trotec’s tried and tested OptiMotion™ control system adapted from the manufacturer’s flagship Speedy range of engravers, the new Q500 cutter delivers a maximum processing speed of 2m/s without compromise on quality, delivering fine engravings up to a font size of 4 pt with sharp shoulders and defined details. Productivity is unrivalled when it comes to achieving high quality at high speed. The Q500 is available with two different laser source options to ensure optimum results depending on the application. The 60-120W power DC CO2 glass tube model is perfect for cutting applications, while the dual-source model which also features a 60W CeramiCore® RF CO2

source enhances speed and reliability for applications which involve a lot of engraving. Alongside robust and innovative Austrian engineering, the Q500 cutting system uses Trotec’s JobControl™ software which acts as a print driver and is compatible with a wide range of graphic design programs. The new Q500 provides improved quality and speed compared to Trotec’s entrylevel R500 model which has the same 1300 x 900 mm bed size, while not including all of the features found in the more advanced SP series of large format laser cutters.

fully supported by Trotec’s UK subsidiary with extended warranty options and training available as well as ongoing support from the company’s large UK-based technical service and support team.

The new laser system is

Trotec has six showrooms across the UK and Ireland

where the Q500 can be demonstrated and online demonstrations are also available by way of video link. Go to www.troteclaser.co.uk for more information or call 0191 580 1182. Automation Update - 13


MTC TRIALS PRIVATE 5G NETWORK FOR MANUFACTURERS The Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre is to trial a purposebuilt private 5G network aimed at helping manufacturers boost productivity. The MTC is launching its 5G capability in partnership with partners West Midlands 5G (WM5G) and Worcestershire 5G (W5G) along with technology partner BT. The private network will be installed at the MTC's manufacturing research facility on Ansty Park. The 5G connected facility will allow manufacturers of all sizes to explore benefits from multi-edge computing and wireless connectivity in digital manufacturing and robotics. A live 5G-connected robotics demonstrator will come on stream later in the year and will give companies of all sizes an insight into how 5G can boost their productivity through connected digital innovation. WM5G is the UK's first region-wide 5G innovation company and forms part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's 5G Test and Trials programme. The MTC's first trial will be one of the first projects in WM5G’s Manufacturing work-stream and the company will work closely with the Worcestershire 5G test-bed and its strategic technology partner BT, to supply and integrate the technology infrastructure. The immediate ambition is to prove the benefits that 5G services can have on the rollout of robotics and automated guided vehicles in a modern production environment and provide a benchmark for the future of 5G manufacturing. The longer-term aim is to develop a series of 5G use cases bringing 5G connectivity, skills, and applications to the MTC core research programme, supporting its SME Digital REACH programme and offering a test-bed environment for their wider customer and partner base. SME Digital REACH offers SMEs guidance and support to increase productivity through the introduction and adoption of digital manufacturing technology. With higher speeds, greater capacity, and shorter response times, 5G can unlock the potential of these technologies in a way not currently possible through conventional connectivity. The MTC workshop will be a functioning facility able to showcase this and serve as a test-bed environment. Alejandra Matamoros, technology manager at the MTC said:

14 - Automation Update

“Demonstrating the potential of 5G connectivity in our workshop facilities will advance the MTC’s offering in digital manufacturing and automation. This will help to deliver additional levels of flexibility in production for UK manufacturers and the integration of supply chains.” She added, "As well as establishing a long-term showcase facility to demonstrate best practice and the capabilities of 5G in manufacturing, the MTC's 5G-enabled use case will provide valuable insights into safe and accurate AGV movement for fleet management in the implementation of state-of-the-art production lines for the smart factory." The first live trial at the facility will see two robots simultaneously operating to deliver the same task and increase the efficiency of a factory operation developed with MTC members. If successful, the trial will be an important step in 5G innovation within the sector and support the aim of helping British manufacturing alleviate the risks involved in the implementation of technology solutions. Sarah Walker, BT director for corporate and public sector in the Midlands, said, "Today's announcement forms part of BT's commitment in working with WM5G and W5G under a shared vision to harness innovative technology to create a smart manufacturing future. We are already leading in 5G innovation across healthcare, education and smart cities, but the digital transformation of the manufacturing sector is key to driving regional regeneration across the UK, starting here in the West Midlands. Deploying a 5G private network at the MTC to develop 5G use cases for local businesses is a significant step towards our shared commitment and we're excited to make this a reality today." Robert Franks, managing director at WM5G, said: “WM5G is committed to supporting the growth of the manufacturing sector in the West Midlands through technology innovation. We are delighted to be working with the MTC as our strategic triallist to prove and share the benefits of connected manufacturing with SMEs. The MTC has been leading the way in exploring new manufacturing technologies such as robotics, digitalisation and intelligent automation for a long time.”

For more information, visit: www.wm5g.org.uk


The demand for stainless steel clamps is especially high for the bottling, packaging and processing technology as well as for outdoor appliances and equipment bearing thermal loads. We work constantly and with great dedication on innovative products and solutions for our customers. The range of linear, lifting column, profile and connecting technology products include catalogue as well as tailor-made products, system solutions such as platforms, work stations and special projects. We are happy to advise you in choosing a product or to develop a tailor-made system solution with you from our extensive modular product range. RK Rose+Krieger 26 Faraday Road Aylesbury Buckinghamshire HP19 8RY 01296 611660 www.rose-krieger.co.uk www.phoenix-mecano.co.uk

Forerunner Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. The Sensor People have been setting technological standards in industrial automation for more than 50 years. In the field of safety at work, we convince right from the start with trend-setting inventions, such as the development of the first protective sensor ever, to our latest safety innovation, “Smart Process Gating” – the space-saving solution for access guarding on conveyor lines. This is how we ensure the success of our customers in an industry that is ever evolving.

www.leuze.co.uk

Automation Update - 15


PAY AS YOU SENSE Equipment rentals are increasingly helping companies overcome the hurdle of finding investment capital to fund development and verification projects.

equipment, rather than purchase it, thus circumventing the bottleneck of raising capital purchase approval. And to help companies along, if they decide that they want to hold onto their TorqSense for longer than they had anticipated, Sensor Technology are happy to convert the rental to a sale, with a percentage of the hire fee already paid offset against the purchase price.

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he current phase of the economic cycle, recovery from a slowdown, is always difficult and frustrating, as Mark Ingham of Sensor Technology identifies: “Companies are seeing their markets improve, but don’t have the reserves to finance all the activities that will kickstart their sales. What money there is has to be used carefully, which usually means funding some projects but not others. As a result opportunities have to be missed.” Typically projects may include verification or reverification of a product range to an international standard, development of a new sized unit within a product range to address an emerging market requirement, modification of a design or a whole new development. “The devil is in the details: enterprising companies can usually see new gaps in their markets and envision a product to suit. But these need to be tested and proven, and that often involves acquiring sensors and test equipment.” Having survived more than one downturn and recovery, Sensor Technology already has a rental option in place for its TorqSense range of torque sensors. Potential users can choose to rent the

Interestingly, Mark says that rentals are a popular option at all times: “Many of our customers have a project where they need to measure torque, but know that when the project is concluded they will have no further need for a TorqSense. For them, renting is very attractive.” This is particularly true in academia and the high tech industries. Brunel University has used Sensor Technology’s rental service on a developmental project for a motor sports client, while Oxford University is a regular and canny user. Another is a West Country satellite technology developer which had a need to test ballscrews to the point where they could be confident that they would work once blasted into orbit. “A regular comment we hear is that customers would like to rent equipment from other suppliers too. There is definitely a fundamental need in the market; it probably increases in the recovery phase of the economic cycle and tails off later on, but it is always there. “I am aware that some other companies are following our lead in this. Others are finding other creative ways to seed their markets, for instance energy saving equipment can be paid in instalments at a rate related to the reduce power bills.”

www.sensors.co.uk 18 - Automation Update


How Covid will change warehousing and distribution Forever! Certain parts of the COVID impact – wearing masks, keeping a 2-meter distance from others, remote working/learning – are (fingers crossed) temporary. But the impact of COVID on the warehouse is going to be long and lasting. As the virus spread throughout the world, we saw a ripple effect; an outbreak or transportation delay in one part of the world had a devastating impact across the globe causing shutdowns due to warehouse closures or missing or delayed supplies. The global supply chain fought to keep up as the virus spread.

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t the warehouse, some organisations were left with excess inventory they couldn’t ship sitting in inventory, while others were at a standstill as they waited to receive inventory at their depleted warehouse. Combining this supply chain nightmare with unpredictable consumer behaviour – some industries saw unprecedented demand, while other industries saw demand plummet – leaving warehouses in a bind. Even after COVID is no longer a threat and the mask mandates go away, social distancing will continue. It might not be 2-meter, but warehouses will continue to keep workers spread further apart than they were pre-COVID. This includes keeping and maintaining the one-way traffic aisles, sanitisation stations and designated work areas. Keeping these precautions in place prevents the spread of a future pandemic, as well as the common cold or flu viruses. To ensure the overall health and safety of the workforce, some form of social distancing is here to stay. Prior to the pandemic, most manufacturers had adopted lean manufacturing as a best practice. Receiving goods just-in-time (JIT) for manufacturing kept inventory costs down and utilised space more efficiently. When COVID hit, this lean strategy left many manufacturers with inventory shortages and in some cases caused production to stop completely. While lean manufacturing will remain a best practice, the balance between JIT inventory and safety (buffer) stock will change. To prevent future inventory shortages leading to production shutdowns, manufacturers will keep more inventory on hand than before. Exactly how much more is up for

debate such as issues around Brexit, overall inventory on-hand will increase. This will only escalate warehouse space and capacity issues. Many warehouses struggled to make space for social distancing, and now they will need space to manage this additional inventory. Warehouse automation has been gaining steady traction for years, but like many things, COVID will speed its adoption. As warehouses cope with adjusting inventory counts, making space for work in process (WIP), speeding order delivery, implementing social distancing and decentralisation they will turn to automated storage and retrieval systems to help reclaim floor space and improve the efficiencies of their workforce. Automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) can recover up to 85% of existing floor space when compared to standard shelving. Warehouses will need this additional capacity to meet post-COVID challenges. Combined with pick-to-light systems and integrated inventory management software, ASRS can also help warehouses solve labour challenges and manage unpredictable spikes in order demand. P o s t - C OV I D w a r e h o u s e a n d distribution centers will be focused on agility. They will utilise technologies that can change picking strategies instantly and handle big swings in demand. To further improve efficiencies, companies will leverage software solutions to

connect technologies throughout the warehouse for a more holistic and efficient order fulfilment process - from receiving and storage to picking and shipping. As warehouses look to position themselves for the future, automation will be a key factor. As we settle into our post-COVID lives the only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain. Companies are creating back up plans for their back up plans. With an unpredictable future, warehouse and distribution centers will look to be as adaptable and flexible as possible. Their main-focus will be on how to best utilise space and efficiently manage their biggest expense - labour. It’s time to start thinking long term. As we try to navigate our lives in today’s new “normal”, Kardex has a prepared a paper covering 15 ways COVID will impact warehousing and distribution forever. Please feel free to download the free paper. www.kardex-remstar.com

Automation Update - 17


For use with building services (heating/cooling/ventilation), Rittal offers the VX SE in a version that is 300 mm deep.

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aying enclosures are frequently employed for free-standing use cases – but are not always the best approach. The advantages of standalone products such as the Rittal VX SE have often been overlooked. This represents a best-of-both-worlds solution midway between Rittal AX compact enclosures and the VX25 baying portfolio. VX SE offers even quicker time-to-delivery and faster, simpler assembly, greater safety and compatibility with other Rittal systems. The VX SE range also includes a 300 mm deep version that is suitable for cramped environments for building services, e.g. when deployed as a distribution box. If enclosures are to be used as stand-alone solutions, then free-standing products such as the new VX SE from Rittal offer significant benefits compared to baying systems. It can be used in many areas of industry and in building services management. Typical fields of application are in compact machinery and equipment and their power distribution and automation components, which can be accommodated in a single enclosure. Fast: In contrast to baying enclosures with a frame and removable side panels, the freestanding enclosure has an all-in-one body made from a single piece of steel sheet or stainless steel. The side panels and roof are solid; therefor fewer components are required, and ordering and assembly are far easier and quicker. As the side panels, roof and frame are conductively connected, no additional earthing to the frame is required, delivering a further time saving.

Discover more: www.rittal.com/vxse

VX SE free-standing enclosure system Because often, simple is best


VX SE: New free-standing system enclosure from Rittal

Stand-alone enclosures offer greater simplicity Safe: As there are no gaps between side panels, roof and frame, dirt and dust cannot collect, enhancing safety. The basic version of the VX SE has an IP 55 protection rating, IK 10 impact protection, automatic potential equalisation, high strength and stability on account of exceptionally high torsional rigidity, plus 1.5 tonne load capacity. For challenging environments, the Rittal free-standing enclosure is optionally available with IP 66 and NEMA 4/4x protection. Integrated gland plates within the base simplify cabling, even in extremely componentdense enclosures, and ensure that preparatory tasks for cabling can be performed ergonomically. Simple: The use of the VX SE freestanding enclosure with a width of up to 1,800 mm offers panel builders significant potential for savings. For instance, it can replace small baying combinations of up to three enclosures. There is then no need for seals, baying accessories, mounting-plate infills or

multiple bases/plinths – simultaneously eliminating the corresponding workload for assembly and installation. Compatible: To retain the benefits of the VX25 baying system in terms of installation of interior components, Rittal has made its new free-standing enclosure VX25-compatible. Panel builders who transition to the VX SE therefore do not have to make major adjustments in terms of engineering, assembly or component installation – everything remains the same. As the profile at the base of the VX SE is identical to that of the VX25, VX accessories for the base, such as gland plates and cable clamp rails, can be transferred and installed with ease. VX-wide compatibility for interior components is made possible by adaptor rails. This allows the easy installation of, e.g. VX25 punched sections, rail systems and partial mounting plates into the VX SE. As a result, it is possible to combine VX SE with any VX25 accessories. Consequently, panel builders do not require special accessories for

installation of interior components in the free-standing enclosure. Instead, they can simply make use of existing components from the baying product portfolio. Versatile: For use with building services (heating/cooling/ventilation), Rittal offers the VX SE in a version that is 300 mm deep. Product benefits include diverse possibilities for the installation of interior components, flexible cabling options thanks to the new, modular cabling system, and rapid, customerspecific, modifications, such as cutouts. Rittal believes in the power of simplicity. The Rittal VX SE is an intelligent combination of modularity, compatibility and a stand-alone approach – with strengths that allow engineering companies to increase their productivity.

www.rittal.co.uk


Farmers’ Rice Cooperative turn to AutoCoding Systems to improve their coding and labelling processes

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ith so many different variants come a multitude of different date formats and labelling requirements. Add to this a legal obligation to add special markings and/or foreign language markings to products, Farmers’ Rice Cooperative was faced with a challenge to mitigate risks of coding and labelling errors by streamlining p r o c e s s e s , r e m ov i n g h u m a n intervention as much as possible. Farmers’ Rice Cooperative set out to find a supplier to assist them in automating their coding and labelling processes. They were looking for a solution that would comply with their operational goals and suit their needs. They specifically didn’t want to be bound to one brand of hardware, and they needed to find a partner that would be willing to work on unique customisations as well as a solution that would integrate into their ERP. AutoCoding Systems’ coding and packaging verification solution ticked all the boxes. Brad Lint, of Farmers’ Rice Cooperative said, “ We found AutoCoding Systems’ product to be exactly what we were looking for; it met all our operational requirements and gave us flexibility on our hardware choices. Ultimately, however, our final decision was based on the people; their knowledge, service and willingness to understand our issues and work with us to solve these issues made AutoCoding Systems our preferred supplier.” Obviously, other competitive solutions were considered but these were proprietary solutions, working with a single brand of printer and, therefore, didn’t offer Farmers’ Rice Cooperative the flexibility they needed. Since implementation of the AutoCoding solution, Farmers’ Rice Cooperative has seen a significant improvement with coding accuracy. Previously, Supervisors or Maintenance Staff were required to set-up the printing equipment, but now line operators are self-sufficient. 20 - Automation Update

Exclusive manufacturer of California rice products, Farmers’ Rice Cooperative (FRC), produce on average 750,000 packs of rice per month in 26 different variations, 51 different packaging options and 43 different size options. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the potential to make mistakes with regard to date coding, labelling and packaging is high.

Operators have been trained to use the AutoCoding system which sets up and controls the coding equipment

They have been trained to use the AutoCoding system which automatically sets-up and controls the printers, leaving Supervisors and Maintenance staff to continue with other tasks. Additionally, due to the integration of AutoCoding into their ERP System, QA personnel can more easily confirm the accuracy of the markings during the compliance inspection process.

When asked if they were happy with the service received from AutoCoding Systems, Brad Lint commented, “Absolutely – without question! The AutoCoding team was very knowledgeable and attentive to our requirements. We have been so impressed with both the service and software, we intend to roll the solution out across our other lines.” www.autocodingsystems.com

Farmers’ Rice Cooperative can be sure their coding information is correct by using AutoCoding to set-up and control their coding equipment


TF Automation automate manual process for Genesis Patterns TF Automation has recently delivered a new machine to long-standing customer, Genesis Patterns, which has automated a time-consuming and problematic manual process.

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ver the last thirty years Genesis Patterns has grown into one of the leading suppliers of sampling products to the flooring industry. Originally supplying swatches and pattern books, the company has invested in machinery and staff to expand into the shade card sector. TF Automation has worked with Genesis Patterns for several years designing and building a number of specialist machines to support their expansion and development plans. Genesis had a recent requirement to automate a manual process of taking pre-cut carpet swatch samples from a strip and adhering them to "dec" boards, to create carpet sample books.

TF Automation project engineers worked with the team at Genesis to build a machine that would de-laminate and remove the pre-cut samples from the strip and place in the exact position required on the larger board. This activity is currently carried out by hand and is open to large fluctuations in output and accuracy. The new machine removes the individual samples from the strip and places accurately in position on the boards, ensuring precision placement and standardisation every time. The new machine has enabled Genesis to improve productivity of this activity and enable more cards to be completed in a shorter time frame, whilst also ensuring consistency and uniformity. Tony Hubbert, MD at TF Automation, comments, “We have worked with Genesis for a number of years and were delighted to support them in automating this manual process to improve their efficiencies and ensure standardisation and accuracy.”

www.tfautomation.co.uk

Automation Update - 21


Robo-Tend and vertical machining centre package make automation an easy decision As industry recovers from the Covid pandemic businesses will face renewed challenges as production ramps up again. The skills shortage has not gone away, if anything it will have worsened, making the availability of machine automation more pressing. To help meet these challenges, XYZ Machine Tools has created an automation and machine package that will provide a cost-effective route to maximising productivity. The package revolves around the three machine LR series of XYZ vertical machining centres, the XYZ 500 LR, XYZ 750 LR and XYZ 1000 LR, with prices starting at £99,870 for a combination of the 500 LR and the XYZ Robo-Tend fully automated production cell. The Robo-Tend system features a KUKA Cybertech robot with 10kg lifting capacity (larger versions available) with vision system, along with an automated drawer system for storage of raw material and finished components. A major advantage of Robo-Tend is the ability for it to be quickly disconnected and repositioned, either to another compatible XYZ Machining centre or, to allow conventional operation of the machine with an operator, if required. To encourage greater use of automation XYZ Machine Tools has made this package more tempting with the addition of several features that would normally be classed as cost options. These include automated vice, swarf conveyor and automated door system. In addition, the package comes with complete training and warranty to ensure maximum performance from day one and complete reassurance. XYZ Robo-Tend is a UK designed and built system that was developed to provide cost-effective automation to small and medium sized companies, those that would not normally consider automation of this type as ‘being for them’. XYZ ROBO-TEND addresses this perception, making automation viable for lower volume production. “The availability of skilled labour is an issue that will not disappear and small to medium sized businesses must automate lower skilled jobs, such as machine loading/unloading, freeing up valuable skilled employees to add value further down the line, we believe ROBO-TEND will open up automation to a much wider audience at an extremely competitive price. Whether purchased with finance with very low hourly costs or, purchased outright where payback can be a matter of months, these packages are a powerful argument to automate the manufacturing process, whatever your production needs,” says Nigel Atherton, Managing Director XYZ Machine Tools. These Robo-Tend/XYZ machine packages from XYZ Machine Tools provide a versatile, user-friendly, modular approach to automation, and subject to component size are capable of operating unattended for a full shift, or even operate 24/7 with the only manual intervention being to restock the raw material in the part storage system if required. This makes it ideal for those companies that need to improve productivity but may be struggling to find the personnel or skills to operate machines. The Robo-Tend/XYZ vertical machining centre automation package presents a perfect opportunity for cost-effective unmanned machining for a wide range of customers 22 - Automation Update


RENOVOTEC’S ‘LIFE AFTER BREXIT’ WAREHOUSE CONSULTING SERVICE: DEPLOYING TECHNOLOGY TO REPLACE PEOPLE • Warehousing and logistics labour crisis follows Brexit exodus of over 250,000 EU citizens from the UK • Renovotec consulting solutions enable same-service warehousing with up to 30% fewer staff

“Market demand for storage and distribution is escalating while labour levels in the industry are at an all-time low. Our consulting service enables supply chain companies to find radical tech alternatives for today’s post-Brexit marketplace” says Renovotec managing director Richard Gilliard Supply chain technology consultant Renovotec (www.renovotec.com) is introducing a ‘Life after Brexit’ warehouse consulting service that reveals the ways in which technology can be used to replace people in warehousing

and distribution, enabling staff reductions of up to 30% according to Renovotec. The introduction of its new service follows an exodus of over 250,000 EU citizens from the UK after Brexit*, many of whom would have worked in supply chain had they remained. According to Renovotec warehouse service levels can be maintained or increased with up to 30% fewer staff. The company’s ‘Life After Brexit’ consulting service includes ‘warehouse walkthrough’ analysis and recommendations for smart technology deployment cou-

pled with an holistic approach to automation - all geared to higher productivity with lower staffing levels in logistics, manufacturing and retail operations. “Market demand for storage and distribution is escalating while labour levels in the industry are at an all-time low. Our consulting service enables supply chain companies to find radical tech alternatives for today’s post-Brexit marketplace” says Renovotec managing director Richard Gilliard.

Automation Update - 23


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