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Designing a smart machine means making a lot of choices – from the biggest parts down to the push-buttons and types of interfaces. A machine builder has to take many elements into consideration in order to build the best machine for their customer. In this new blog series, we will take a look at some of these elements and the various options available to OEMs.
Fix the basics
When it comes to determining the best place to put the settings on a machine, it’s hardly a one-size-fits-all situation. Depending on the machine’s function and the demands of the operator, the settings (and a simple interface) can take various forms and be located in different places, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s look at an example scenario: Mike is an OEM who is building bread baking machines. The dough mixer can run at different speeds to provide the right consistencies for the breads, and the oven obviously also needs to adapt to the temperature and baking time for each specific type of bread. Mike needs to design a machine in such a way that the baker will be able to control these variables in an efficient and simple manner. What are the solutions at his disposal and on what criteria should he base his decision?
Here are your 4 options…
Solution 1: Within the panels – drives, timers, and relays
Pro: Only trained maintenance engineers have access so no issue of parameters being mistakenly changed
Con: Your operator can’t change the parameter by himself, so your flexibility is reduced
Solution 2: On the panel door – HMI
Pros: All the settings are on one screen, accessible by operators; you can secure the screen with a password if preventing mistakes is more important than flexibility
Con: The price of an HMI (and its programming engineer) is sometimes too high for a simple machine
Solution 3: On the panel door – square cut-out timers, dedicated drive interfaces
Pros: Settings accessible by operators; cheaper than an HMI; high-end settings compared to round cut-out products
Cons: Several interfaces are needed if the machine requires different settings; square cut-outs are costly for OEMs and panel builders who don’t use laser cutting
Solution 4: On the panel door – round cut-out timers, potentiometer
Pros: Settings accessible by operators; the cheapest and simplest solution to implement, with low cost and standard 22 mm diameter holes, the same as for a push button
Cons: Several interfaces are required if the machine needs multiple settings; only the simplest functions are available
After consulting with his main customers, Mike finally decides to go for solution 4 and a round cut-out timer on the panel door. What would you have done in his place?
Here is your chance to talk to the expert…leave your questions and comments below.