New ideas for quality management: Part 2

Mar 5, 2014 7:57:28 AM | Posted by John Clemons

Performing test results with the lab in control can be expensive, so how can we cut the budget and still get valued results?

Last time we started talking about some new ideas for manufacturing quality management. OK, not really new idea, just some good practical common sense. But, common sense that can have a huge impact on the shop floor making things a whole lot better when it comes to managing quality.

The old paradigm was lab-centric so that testing takes a long time. That means that getting feedback takes a long time and adjustments to the manufacturing process take a long time. The new idea is to put the operator in control and get the test results fast and get the feedback fast so that the proper adjustments can be made very quickly. It really is turning the old paradigm on its head.

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Choosing to virtualize your control systems

Feb 26, 2014 7:12:09 AM | Posted by John Boyd

As we review our current facility control systems status we contemplate whether virtualizing part of or all of our control server/workstation environment is possible.

As we review our current facility control systems status we contemplate whether virtualizing part of or all of our control server/workstation environment is possible. With the looming concern of the retirement of Windows XP and the discontinued support from Microsoft after April 2014, virtualization of those legacy workstations will allow a more controlled migration to new operating systems and software platforms.

I’ve seen an uptick in requests from customers on whether to virtualize or continue with a physical server environment in their new control systems. A lot of the drive behind the customer’s request is the increased interaction with the customer’s IT organizations and their control system organizations. IT organizations have embraced virtualized environments and have deployed them for many years in the business environment. One note of caution is to not approach a virtualized environment from a business environment perspective and apply it to your control system. The reason being business systems typically do not have a 24/7 high-availability requirement, which is common for all manufacturing and process control systems.

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New ideas for quality management: Part 1

Feb 20, 2014 8:53:20 AM | Posted by John Clemons

Manufacturing quality tests in the lab can take time, causing a delay in production. Consider rapid testing with operators to deliver prompt feedback and make necessary adjustments sooner.

OK – that title sounds a little grandiose, like I’ve come up with some brilliant new ideas that no one has ever thought of before. These ideas aren’t necessarily new (or even that brilliant); they’re really more like practical common sense. But, they can have a huge impact on manufacturing quality management and can really make things on the shop floor a whole lot better when it comes to managing quality.

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‘Best practices,’ according to who?

Feb 14, 2014 4:54:57 AM | Posted by Bruce Brandt

While many best practices are based off of decades of experience there are many who don’t follow them for their own reasons.

In my role here at Maverick I’m often asked about best practices, and I’m expected to drive the use of them by our employees. The problem with that is the assumption that best practices are universally accepted as being truly the best, yet I’ve repeatedly run into situations where the best practice I offer up is met with either skepticism or the old “we tried that and it didn’t work here.” The former is easier to address since I can usually offer the names of contacts where it proved itself out.

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Understanding time current curves: Part 3

Feb 13, 2014 8:53:28 AM | Posted by David Paul

The final installment of a three-part series about time current curves (TCCs) reviews the coordination of sample curves and the importance of coordination.

Continued from Part 2

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Understanding time current curves: Part 2

Jan 30, 2014 3:17:29 AM | Posted by David Paul

The second installment of a three-part series about time current curves (TCCs) covers short and long time settings, including their purpose and examples of such overcurrents.

Continued from Part 1

The light blue curve represents the circuit breaker settings for the feeder circuit breaker. The lower portion of the curve (below 0.05 sec or three cycles on the time axis) is the instantaneous trip function. The purpose of the instantaneous trip is to trip the circuit breaker quickly with no intentional delay (no more than a few cycles) on high magnitude fault currents. This quick trip protects electrical distribution equipment from damage and keeps arc flash hazard categories low. Clearly these type faults must be interrupted quickly and do not allow the system to wait and see if the fault will self clear. The minimum instantaneous setting determines the minimum trip setting for the circuit breaker. In the case shown in Part 1, the instantaneous setting is 2,400 A and the maximum value displayed is available fault current at the circuit breaker. Small changes in the instantaneous setting can result in significant changes in the Arc Flash Hazard category, so this is a setting which must be carefully selected according to sound engineering principles.

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Understanding time current curves: Part 1

Jan 28, 2014 8:36:30 AM | Posted by David Paul

The first installment of a three-part series about time current curves (TCCs) provides a quick overview of item identification and how to read TCC plots.

A time current curve (TCC) plots the interrupting time of an overcurrent device based on a given current level. These curves are provided by the manufacturers of electrical overcurrent interrupting devices, such as fuses and circuit breakers. These curves are part of the product acceptance testing required by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and other rating agencies. The shape of the curves is dictated by both the physical construction of the device as well as the settings selected in the case of adjustable circuit breakers. The time current curves of a device are important for engineers to understand because they graphically show the response of the device to various levels overcurrent. The curves allow the power systems engineer to graphically represent the selective coordination of overcurrent devices in an electrical system. Modern power system design software packages, such as EasyPower, SKM Power Tools, and Etap, contain graphical libraries of curves to allow the power system engineer the ability to plot, analyze, and print the curves with minimal effort compared to the previous methods used when coordinating a power system.

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Configuring control systems through wireless devices, remote I/O: With great power comes great responsibility

Jan 23, 2014 10:18:02 AM | Posted by Bruce Brandt

In the new world of wireless devices and remote I/O we have the power to create control configurations that use I/O and that are not physically connected to the controller running the control loops.

In the new world of wireless devices and remote I/O we have the power to create control configurations that use I/O and that are not physically connected to the controller running the control loops. In the case of at least one distributed control system (DCS), the I/O attached to its gateway can be assigned to different controllers on a per I/O point basis. Within the confines of the configuration application there are pointers to where these live, but in the context of project documentation the world becomes a bit blurry.

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