Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hydraulic to Electric Conversions: Saving Time and Money

Work with machinery long enough, and you’ll go beyond just knowing how to use the equipment: you begin to understand it, learn its strengths and weaknesses, and figure out ways to improve it. IIS’s extensive experience with indexing equipment led to one such situation, which we were able to act open to improve our customers’ operations, and our own repair services. In fact, our analysis and upgrade led to a whole new service offering for IIS: the electric drive conversion for the Nissei Hydraulic ASB 650 Blow Molding Indexing Table.

For many years, hydraulic-powered indexing drives were the industry norm. As anyone who has worked extensively with hydraulics knows, the technology offers incredible benefits – with some drawbacks. Hydraulic leaks are messy, hydraulic fluid is expensive, and repairs can be frequent and costly. As a well-established repair shop for hydraulic indexers, IIS noticed something in the course of sourcing replacement parts: they were becoming more and more scarce, and costs were increasing commensurately. The machinery was becoming obsolete. 

Rather than continue to subject our customers to increasing parts costs, we rolled out another option: an electric drive conversion. Time-consuming and a major investment in the short term, the savings in reliability and production over the long term have proved attractive to many clients. The key to the conversion is a special adapter for the gearbox, called the KIT-ADT-43. This is a bolt-in replacement for the original HR-205 type hydraulic motor in the Nissei table. With cycle times reduced to 1.3 seconds for a 90° move in a standard precision assembly, or .99 seconds in a reduced backlash assembly, as well as a substantial reduction in energy usage, the benefits of the conversion speak for themselves. What’s more, our clients are typically eligible for state and federal tax credits for energy efficiency improvement investments.
Read more about our upgrade and conversion services on our upgrade packages page, or contact us with any questions.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

FIRST Robotics Competition: Hitting the Boards

With development of teams’ FIRST Robotics robots in full swing, we’ll be taking a look this week at some of the details of this year’s Rebound Rumble competition, and how teams will be rising to the challenges presented by the game. But competitors – don’t look here for any team secrets. We’ll only get as close as a general assessment of factors in building the machines. 

Following in the footsteps of 2010’s soccer-themed “Breakaway” game and 2008’s “Overdrive” auto-racing-based competition, 2012 features another sports game: the Rebound Rumble. Just like in regular basketball, teams will be trying to score on one end of the court, and defending the opposite end. The court is a bit smaller than most, measuring 54 ft. long by 27 ft. wide, and there’s no three point line. There are a few other differences, too: instead of one basket at each end, there are four (at different heights, with higher point values for higher hoops), and there’s a raised bridge at mid-court. The biggest difference? The only players on the court will be constructed from metal, wires, and plastics: robots controlled wirelessly from the sidelines.

Incredibly, these robots are built completely from scratch by high school students, with advisement by a team of mentors (on which IIS personnel take part). All design, movement, and control must be planned and carried out to build a fully-functional, robotic Chris Paul (although Michael Jordan might be more likely to come to mind for the mentor teams). Think about everything that goes into a basketball shot: aim, angle of release, velocity/force, distance from the hoop, and countless other factors. Each must be converted into a command for the robot to understand and follow – simultaneously. And then there are other factors: Passing. Blocking. Fast breaks. All need to be accounted for and controlled.

As the competition develops, we’ll have all the details here. Keep reading our blog for updates!