Recent times have forced various industries to move towards automating everything possible in order to provide a consistent output and improve quality. This allows manufacturers and builders of all types to run at full production. With the availability of the workforce uncertain, demand for robots is skyrocketing.
Robots are now being utilized in expanded capacities. Manufacturers, already heavy in factory automation, are now using robots with machine vision. Machine vision systems can locate the position and orientation of a part, compare it to a specific tolerance and ensure it is at the correct angle to verify proper assembly. Machine vision guidance achieves greater speed and accuracy than manual positioning in such tasks as arranging parts on or off pallets, conveyor belts, finding and aligning parts for assembly, placing parts on a work area, or removing parts from bins.
More and more manufacturers are also using robots to pick and pack orders in response to COVID. Automated shipping is now being heavily implemented as a way to cut down on the amount of times packages are touched and reduces the need for social distancing.
Another way robots are being utilized is having them expedite building construction. This system features a robotic arm and custom end effector which is driven by advance computer vision sensing technology, allowing the automation of certain construction site tasks. Additionally, robots can access hard-to-reach underground systems that may be too dangerous or inaccessible for humans. How it works is the robots' ultrasound and acoustic sensors enable the robot to detect cracks, blockages an the overall condition of the pipes, while the use of infrared sensors and magnetic field sensors enable the robot to navigate through the pipes themselves. Once the data is collected on the condition of the pipes the data is sent to water utilities. This technology helps to reduce costs associated with the excavation necessary to maintain or repair pipes. This, in turn, could help municipalities to avoid road closures.
This is truly exciting technology and we are only touching the tip of the iceberg. Robots are in strong demand as is all factory automation. Because of this the supply chain for parts to build and install the robots and all factory automation has been severely challenged. Lead times are being stretched out and suppliers, even those who has been strong on delivery in the past, are running thin and witnessing long lead times.
If this has effected your business and you are having difficulty in obtaining instrumentation cables to meet deadlines, give Mueller Electric a call. Mueller Electric has been manufacturing instrumentation cables for years and has the expertise and production capacity to meet your instrumentation cable needs. Give Mueller Electric a call today at 800.955.2629 or submit the form below for a speedy response!
CODING FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW
Have you wondered about the different coding types for instrumentation cables and what they mean?
M12 cables have come in a variety of coding options and each code is used for a specific application. Simply put, M12 codes are designed to keep cables mating with the correct connections to ensure that, for example, an AC power cable is not being hooked up with an Ethernet cable.
From the outside, connector housings look the same but when you consider the internal configurations of the M12 connector, things are quite diverse. Most users of M12 cables are familiar with codes A through D and possibly X. There are more codes in addition to these and some have been designed to replace existing codes. Below are keyways commonly used today. Below that are keyways less well known that may become more prominent in the future.
How do you know which code is right for you? Feel free to look through our assortment of
instrumentation cables and their related coding to see which best fits the application needed. If you still have questions or don’t see what you’re looking for, feel free to contact me at 800.955.2629 to discuss what you want to accomplish and I can assist you in finding the right cables. On the rare chance you don’t see what you’re looking for, Mueller Electric can always create custom cables based on your company’s specific needs.
A-coded connectors are the most common type of keyways and are used with sensors, actuators, attenuators, motors and other devices. B-coded connectors are most often used in network cables for fieldbus connections. C-coded connectors are used mainly with AC sensors and have a dual keyway for security, used to make sure no other cable is accidentally used in place of a C-coded cable. D-coded connectors are generally used for Ethernet and can transfer data up to 100 Mb. X-coded connectors are becoming more popular due to their ability to transfer large amounts of data, up to 1 Gb, at high speeds.
Protective Utility Grounding assemblies are used on de-energized lines when the crews are performing maintenance or are making changes to the grid. The grounding assemblies are to ensure any spikes in electricity are rerouted to the ground and out of harms way.
In most cases there are three lines or more which will need to be grounded. To do this effectively the grounding cables will need to be connected to the lines as illustrated in the picture.
In this case, five grounding assemblies are required to make the ground connection complete and safe. The final, or lowest assembly, is attached to the grounding rod which is screwed into the ground.
An aluminum connecting rod is available to attach the clamps if necessary. This keeps the clamps in close proximity to each other when placement is important.
Topics: Utility Grounding
Paint line managers of electrostatic paint lines are often tasked to provide plastic substrates with an evenly distributed bright and shiny paint coating and with keeping the painting environment safe.
That’s easy, right? Most people think that all they have to do is to make sure the substrate is grounded.
Yes, that is true, but how do you really know if the ground in place provides a consistent low level of resistance?
One way to check the resistance of the plastic substrate is with a multi-meter (after the conductive costing is applied). This will provide an accurate measurement as long as both probes are placed as needed. The problem is that you need 3 hands to hold the two probes plus the meter, while you touch the probes to places that are often far apart. Additionally, the probes are pointed, so caution must be taken to not scratch or damage the plastic substrate which could remove the conductive primer. The process of using a multi-meter to take a consistent reading across the entire plastic substrate can be very cumbersome and time consuming while the line is in full operation.
A much easier and more efficient way to take a measurement of resistance is to use the Ground Analyzer from Mueller Electric. This is a hand- held device that provides the tools to take a quick and easy measurement of the ground effectiveness across the plastic substrate. The Ground Analyzer will take a reading but will also provide a quick go-no go indicator which will allow the paint line manager to know if the substrate is grounded throughout and is ready for base coating. Every paint manager has their own unique requirements for appropriate grounding levels. For some it may be 500Ωs while others may go at 1MΩ or higher. The Ground Analyzer allows for a threshold to be set at various preset levels (one setting is available for user input) and the reading taken will provide a green indicator if the resistance measurement is below the threshold. If the reading is above the threshold the indicator will turn red alerting the operator to the fact that a better ground is needed. For a better understanding of how the Ground Analyzer works you can watch the video or see the PDF here.
Topics: Grounding Plastic
Mueller Electric is at Electronica's 2018 event being held this week in Munich, Germany. Stop by the Digi-Key locations in Hall C booth 500 and Hall B booths 164, 165 & 170 to learn more.
Everyone wants a safe work environment. One of the workplace hazards are explosions and fires due to static discharge, but these can be mitigated by grounding equipment. Proper grounding is the only way to ensure true static protection if you are in any environment where the potential for static discharge exists.
Many places ground with heavy duty cast clips, solid copper clips and clamps of all shapes and sizes connected to a wire and attached to drums and pipes throughout a storeroom, plant floor or pumping stations. These are referred to as grounding assemblies or “straps.”
These areas may or may not be perfectly grounded. Even though they may look grounded, it’s hard to tell if it’s done properly. An improper ground could mean safety hazards that can lead to fire or explosions.
First and foremost, it must be determined that access to a fully grounded grounding pin or buss bar is readily available. This will be necessary for a solid true ground and will act as the backbone of the grounding system. Keep in mind, however, that the grounding pin and buss bar must be kept clean so solid metal-to-metal connections are made.
The next step in ensuring that something is properly grounded is to make sure the correct connection device is utilized.
Many times a C-clamp or center spring clip will be used for this connection. This would certainly result in a good connection as the C-clamp can bite into the metal pin or buss bar and the clamp pressure on the center spring clamp is strong enough to drive the teeth into the metal pin or bar. It’s important that the clamp or clip is able to pierce any paint that might be on the surface. The connections on the grounding pin and buss bar must be solid tight connections as maintaining continual connectivity is critical for the integrity of the entire grounding system.
The type of cabling used from connection to connection (grounding pin / buss bar to clamp or clip) will depend on the environment being grounded. If the environment is clean such as a paint mixing room, uninsulated stainless steel wire rope or braided copper can be utilized. In other applications where the environment may contain more contaminants, an insulated wire may and should be considered such as THHN (oil and gas resistant).
Now that the connection to the ground source and wire are complete, focus can be placed on the connection to the can, drum, or tank. This connection can be made with a cast clamp with points, C-clamp containing a point or center spring clip with strong clamp pressure and teeth. The type of connection depends on the type of surface in which it is being attached. If the surface is clean and free of dirt and paint, a center spring clip can work fine. The size of the clip will be determined by the size or thickness of the object being grounded. If the container is dirty or painted the connection will need to be made with a connector which will break through those layers to make a solid metal-to-metal connection. Cast clips with points and the C-clamp with a point are perfect for this application.
Once a connection is made to the first container a “daisy chain” method of connecting the remaining containers in the area can be used. This means that a grounding cable can be attached from container to container to maintain a good ground as long as the series of containers is attached to the one connected to the grounding source. Keep in mind that each grounded container must have a solid metal-to-metal connection with the grounding device. It may be necessary in more caustic environments to wire each container directly to the grounding source. This same approach can be applied to grounding pipes for fluid flow, and even grounding work stations.
Following the above steps for creating a solid grounding system should produce good results and create a safe environment. To confirm that there is good connectivity, take resistance measurements with a multi-meter, ohm-meter or ground analyzer. To ensure entire system integrity, a lead should be placed on the connection on the grounding source (grounding pin or buss bar) and the other on the very last connection in the system. This will incorporate a resistance measurement from point-to-point for the entire grounding system. If the reading taken is zero or approaching zero, the system is well grounded and a safe environment exists. If the reading approaches 1M Ohm then check the connections throughout the system to ensure that there are solid metal-to-metal connections. Once the appropriate measurement is received (zero or approaching zero), you have a good and well-grounded system in place ensuring static protection.
When you think of plant safety it is common to think about the things you can see or do. This can be rules and regulations on how to navigate throughout the plant as well as wearing the appropriate safety attire such as hard hats, safety glasses, ear plugs, in addition to fire suits or Kevlar gloves to name a few. So, if the plant has all these things, isn’t it safe? Well, maybe, or maybe not? What about the things you can’t see such as static electricity? Have you considered the need for grounding and bonding?
The number of static electricity incidents reported in the U.S. exceeds more the 250 a year. The reports of these incidents are way more common that you would like to think. Certainly, when electrostatic charge build-up exists in a flammable or explosive environment a very hazardous situation has been created.
Typically these situations can be avoided by installing high quality low resistance grounding/ bonding cables containing clips and clamps. The clips are required to maintain high clamp pressure and the clamps will need to have a paint piercing point to be effective in garnering a solid metal on metal connection to reduce resistance and reduce static. The clips and clamps can be connected to a braided copper cable or better yet, a stainless steel wire rope which tends to hold up better in industrial applications. Make sure the connections to the cables are tight and always test the assembly for low resistance, the closer you get to 1 OHM the better.
Grounding / bonding cables don’t always guarantee static dissipation. Many times a grounding or bonding cable is attached to an object (tank or pump) which has been coated for protection. These types of coatings can impede the clip or clamp’s ability to make a solid metal to metal connection, which in turn, increases the resistance within the grounding structure. With increased resistance comes the possibility of electrostatic discharge failure. Rust build up on the clip or clamp can also create a coating which will disrupt a solid metal to metal connection. As a result, this too will create an unsafe environment. To avoid these situations, always test your grounding / bonding cable’s connections for resistance at the time of employment. If the resistance is low, great! Move on. If the resistance is high, make the necessary adjustments to insure a solid connection and low resistance. Don’t take a chance, make sure a solid connection is evident before giving it your seal of approval.
Proper maintenance is also critical to insure that your grounding / bonding equipment is in proper condition to effectively reduce static. Regular inspections of your grounding / bonding equipment are a necessity in any industrial setting. As you know, industrial environments can and will severely test the structural integrity of any device, including grounding / bonding cables and assemblies. Remember, inspect what you expect!
In conclusion, plant safety goes well beyond the need for appropriate attire and traffic flow logistics throughout the plant. Electrostatic discharge, the invisible threat, will need to be addressed as well. High quality, low resistance affordable grounding / bonding equipment is readily available to provide the required protection. Appropriately placed grounding / bonding cables and assemblies along with consistent resistance testing will provide a safe work environment for everyone.
To read more about grounding and bonding, check out our whitepaper
Business Challenge: The case of retrofitting a new device onto a legacy harness.
A major engineering firm approached Mueller Electric to help engineer a solution to their customer’s problem of installing new fleet intercoms into their current vehicles. The vehicles already had a wire harness accessible through the dashboard which was installed during the initial assembly process at the factory. This harness accommodated the docking station for the original intercoms which have now become obsolete. Since intercoms are a necessity for the fleet, new intercoms were purchased but they were not compatible with the original harness. One option would have been to replace the original harness in the vehicle, but this would have been very expensive and time consuming.
The engineering firm’s customer wanted to have a short, light-weight solution as space on the cab was limited. It also needed to be easy to install as there were several thousand cabs that needed to be retrofitted with the new intercom. Additionally, the solution had to provide a seamless functionality so there were no interruptions to service in the cab.
Result: A custom solution was built, tested and placed into service.
The engineering firm provided drawings of the initial harness, the new intercom and a sample of the new docking station. After careful consideration, a conceptual drawing was created and prototypes were assembled. The prototypes had a modular connector on one end which mated with the original harness and a DC plug on the other which mated with the new docking station and were joined by an 18 AWG 2 conductor cable 18 inches in length. It was short, light weight and successfully mated with both the original harness and new docking station. The prototypes were installed in test cabs and they worked perfectly. An order was placed too retrofit the remaining cabs.
Future: Custom answers to transportation challenges
Many times, a component or system becomes obsolete forcing a company to replace it. This can also result in needing to replace much more than the one component to keep everything compatible and in working order. In the transportation industry, this has a very costly outcome as it also leads to downtime as well as hours of labor in the replacement. Mueller Electric is able to provide a solution for companies to bridge the old and the new, through cost effective solutions. A company can bring the fleet up to date quickly while saving money in the process.
This is just one example of the capability that Mueller Electric’s custom assembly program can deliver. Whether it’s an application of retrofitting, grounding, connecting equipment, test and measurement, maintenance, or any other custom application Mueller can provide a solution specific to your requirements. Mueller Electric has provided high quality, long lasting and cost effective solutions to the power generation and distribution, oil & gas, automotive, manufacturing and medical industries and more for generations.
For more information on our custom capabilities, check out our page here.
Topics: custom cables
Have you noticed lately that your paint line isn’t producing the quality it once did?
Are your substrates weighing less as a finished product?
Are your thickness measurements showing less versus more?
Have you noticed more overspray in your paint booth?
Are your robots wearing more paint than your substrates?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions you certainly have something going wrong in your paint process, not to mention your increased costs of paint as well as your amount of scrap and rework.
There are many different factors that can contribute to problems within the paint process. Some examples are:
- The manufacturer changed the composition of the paint
- Something is wrong with the paint nozzles
- There is a bug in the programming
So you spend countless hours going through this and everything has checked out but the output remains the same. Have you checked your system to insure you are maintaining an adequate ground for your paint process? Oh, I am assuming you ARE grounding, right?
The grounding process is not glamorous or fun, but it can make or break your success in producing a great paint job. I would always recommend that you check the resistance between the substrate and your most solid connection to your paint line conveyor. My guess is you will find a reading well above 1 Mega Ohm (some have had infinite readings which means no ground at all) which for many means a poor ground and a bad paint job. It all comes down to making sure you have solid connections throughout your paint process which allows the charges to flow as the paint line requires.
Some things to check are:
- Do you have good connections between the substrate and carrier?
- Does the carrier have a solid connection to the conveyor?
- How frequently is the conveyor track cleaned and connectivity checked (I have received answers such as never or very rarely)?
- Does the conveyor ground tie into the ground connection for your paint delivery system?
This all may sound simple but these issues are the most common areas to check when paint quality deteriorates. Proper maintenance and diligence to grounding is key to providing a great paint output. Adding a grounding assembly (or straps) can be a great inexpensive insurance policy which will help produce a consistent high quality paint output while reducing the cost of scrap, rework and overspray.
For more information on grounding and static electricity in industry, you can check out our whitepaper.
Mueller Electric can also help design the custom assembly perfect for your application.
Topics: Painting metal