Futaba Industrial Co., Ltd.
Reduce downtime & unexpected crashes with Strata’s Integrators
Futaba is a Tier 1 Automotive Supplier to Toyota in San Antonio, Texas. Futaba has spent 70 years establishing its position as an automotive parts manufacturer with stamping and welding technologies. Futaba desired to further enhance profitability and improve management efficiency by speeding up management decisions, strengthening governance, and reviewing how Futaba works.
Futaba’s team needs to improve the efficiency of production processes which is a crucial part of product manufacturing. This is becoming increasingly important in their metal stamping facilities throughout the organization, as competition requires that products be produced at a much faster rate and a superior level of consistency.
The number one culprit for unexpected downtime or nonconforming parts in metal stamping applications is when the die crashes. Eliminating die crashes helps monitor repair methods and improves press time and production scheduling. Any die that has been repaired after a crash is not likely to produce the same quality product as before.
The best way to protect a die from damage is to ensure that nothing is physically out of place during a press cycle. A system of sensors must be mounted in the tooling to do this. Encoders must be connected to crankshafts, and the press must be equipped with a controller to interpret the signals from these devices. Futaba is faced with integrating sensors that verify the correct die and reduce the potential for damaging the die when metal parts are stamped.
The Right Integrator
Founded in 1997, Strata is an engineering and product systems integrator with experience solving business issues for Manufacturing Clients who need to drive value from plant floor operations and provide direct boots on the ground support anywhere in the automation stack from the device, machine, sensor, or system level up to the PLC and into the SCADA, MES or local Control System with the knowledge and expertise to integrate the plant floor to key ERP, Database, or Business Intelligence System.
Over the last twenty years, we’ve grown to become a trusted resource to companies throughout the nation. We integrate connected technologies with production equipment and business systems to streamline processes, increase communication, and add value to your organization.
Adaptability on the Plant Floor
The Futaba Team needed a trusted Integrator who can deploy a solution where sensors verify processes and reduce the potential for damages. The sensors detect accuracy, speed, orientation, and position, including part ejection and hole placement. It is vital to protect die applications because of the speed of the stamping machine. One of the most challenging problems to overcome in any die protection application is protecting the parts from the atmosphere in which they must function. In typical stamping applications, oils, coolants, and other lubricants are often present that can wreak havoc with the components.
The Strata Team was able to deliver expertise in Technology and Engineering Services that can determine the intricacy and sophistication of the die, as well as the environmental conditions the sensor will be subject to. For example, the material being sensed, the size of the target, the physical conditions near the die (weld fields, extreme heat/cold, RFI, etc.), and the electrical equipment the sensor will be connected to (relays, PLCs, press controls, etc.).
Strata partnered with Turck to deliver a suite of sensors, connectivity, and Fieldbus technology products. Turck is one of the most prominent Sensor Manufacturers and has deployed rugged engineering solutions across Automotive Manufacturing related to Die Protection.
Turck offers a wear-free alternative to traditional connection technology. The NIC coupler sets consist of a primary part on the control side and a secondary part on the sensor/actuator side of the connection. The NIC couplers transmit up to eight PNP switching signals and up to 500 milliamps of current with 12 watts output power. This enables sensors and actuators such as light curtains, piezo valves or smaller valve manifolds to be operated without an additional amplifier on the secondary side. Inductive couplers as contactless connectors are also impressive on account of the freedom of movement they offer their coupled components, such as robots with rotating tools or shafts from which sensor signals have to be taken. Here a contactless connection of the interface is a major benefit since the system also tolerates a counter-rotation of the components.
Although the slip ring is established as an alternative solution in the industry, it has substantial limitations due to its wear. Another application area for inductive couplers is overhead conveyor systems, which are frequently used in the automotive industry. The inductive couplers offer some key benefits such as:
Extensive Transmission Range with Offset Tolerance
Inductive couplers transmit the full power of 12 W at a distance of 7 mm. They also tolerate a lateral offset of 5 mm and an angular misalignment up to 15° degrees without reducing the transmitted power.
High Power Transmission
The NIC couplers transmit up to eight PNP switching signals and up to 500 mA of current with 12 W output power. This enables sensors and actuators such as light curtains, piezo valves, or smaller valve manifolds to be operated without an additional amplifier on the secondary side
Since we are an agnostic vendor for the Futaba Team, this allowed Strata to offer other benefits through the Turck offering, such as:
- Mounting flexibility through an optimum air interface and offset tolerances
- Mounting flexibility through an optimum air interface and offset tolerances
- Tool identification with Turck’s I/O-hub TBIL
- Reduction of stock by multifunctional devices
- Fewer suppliers: Couplers, sensors, and connection technology from a single source
- Reduction of downtimes through diagnosis in the control system
- Support by global sales and support channels of the Turck Group
The same system consisting of the primary and secondary coupler can also transfer signals from IO-Linkcapable sensors. For this, the primary coupler has to be connected to an IO-Link master. A primary part with an integrated IO-Link master is available if more than two signals are transmitted. The primary unit is connected to conventional PNP inputs of a field device using 12-pin M12 connectors so that the system works internally with the IO-Link technology unnoticed by the user.
The solution offered Foreign Object Detection and Dynamic Pairing along with I/O Link Capabilities. This makes the solution suited both for bidirectional data transmission from and to IO-Link devices and for transmission of eight PNP signals using a 12-wire cable, internally handled via IO-Link. The end goal is to collect data from production or business intelligence, so full IO-Link support makes the NIC system highly flexible.
The NIC system provides two pins for diagnostic signals: One signal indicates the presence of the secondary part, the second is for “Foreign Object Detection,” i.e., to detect metallic foreign objects between the primary and secondary part. The primary parts can be combined with as many secondary parts as wanted – and vice versa. Utilizing “Dynamic Pairing,” more complex applications can also be solved satisfactorily with several primary and secondary elements.
Being available with expertise to the Futaba Texas Team allowed Strata Innovative Solutions to offer direct “boots on the ground” support with this industrial challenge and reduce or avoid downtime. The solution ultimately provides savings to costly “die crashes,” which can cost anywhere from 250 thousand to 500 thousand dollars daily in one crash event. The overall solution to Futaba brought a robust control system that prevents die crashes and collects data to avoid future issues, and provides intelligence for die presence, position, and protection.
Solving Plant Floor Issues allows the Stata Team to ultimately deliver real Digital Transformation, the transformation of Business Processes, and consuming real-time data generated by our clients to uncover and create competitive advantages and add value across the plant floor. Let us know how we can help your team bring real value that starts on the plant floor.