Case Studies

Continuous Press Software Development

While working as a Field Service Technician, I was sent to look at a problem at a custom job shop (primarily an auto parts manufacturer).  My company had recently released a software model to control a continuous press application synchronized to a servo feed system.

Five technicians had spent six weeks on-site getting nowhere.  When running in continuous mode, the press would cycle once and the controller would generate a fault.  If they ran it in single-stroke, the press control system would fault after a few cycles.

Our company didn't have a lot of experience with large mechanical presses.  Most of their experience was with pneumatic or hydraulic presses.  The few mechanical presses they'd integrated in the past were smaller, underslung mechanical presses with very simple clutch-brake systems and almost every application ran in single-stroke.

I had the benefit of once integrating a very large Clearing-Niagra press that included a LINK Systems press control into a roll forming line.  I could not get it to consistently operate in single-stroke (the nature of the part and the physical dimensions of the die would not allow for continuous operation), I had reached out to LINK Systems and gotten a crash-course on typical press control scenarios.  Most of these larger presses were used in hand-fed operations.  So, the additional safety features (5 min timeouts, redundant contacts, etc) made a lot of sense.  The LINK technician also explained to me the critical nature of the cam inputs and their timing.

When this application came up at my company I tried to explain what I knew, but as a relatively new technician there wasn't much interest in hearing what I had to offer.  Once I reached the customer site I immediately pulled out my oscilloscope and began taking screen shots of the sequence and timing of the cam signals, as well as the specific errors generated by both the controller and the press controller.

In 20 minutes, I had collected all the data necessary to prove to our software engineer the need to modify his software to add two new parameters and a new input to the controller.  He was able to get updated software to me within a few minutes.  We found another bug which was quickly fixed, and 2 hours after I arrived that morning, we were finally producing our first perfect part for the end-user.


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