Friday, February 27, 2009

Making RSLinx play nice with other serial apps

Our customers often have many different types of equipment at their facilities. Many want to administer that equipment themselves, since they all have PLCs and CNCs that need programming, tweaking, or backing up.

They buy a laptop and the software, and realize that only SOME of it is working correctly. Very often it is because another program is latched onto the serial port. We see this constantly with Rockwell Software's RS Linx.

By default, RS Linx sets itself up as a service under windows, and is constantly monitoring the serial port for connection to Allen Bradley PLCs and equipment.

Then if you try to run Siemens' Step 7 or Step 5 (or virtually any other serial based comm program), it can't communicate because RSLinx has control of the serial port. The quick fix is to right click on RS Linx down by the clock on the taskbar and close it. it will release the comm port, but when you reboot, it will come back.

A perminant fix to disable the RSLinx service, so that it only runs when you tell it to.

In your start menu, locate the Rockwell folder, look in the RS Linx folder for a program called "RSLinx Classic Launch Control Panel".

You can stop (and start) the service there, and if you uncheck the "always run as service" box, it won't start back on reboot.

A Burkle Hot Press Success Story

REA Technologies was recently presented with the challenge of repairing a Schleicher Rack System for a Burkle hot press. This system had suffered a blown power supply and a CPU that would not boot. There were also problems with the Schleicher input and output modules. In all the rack was comprised of 27 individual units: 12 input modules, 8 output modules, 3 access modules, 2 remote I/O modules, a PLC, and power supply.

Our customer, located in Indiana, had an entire line down due to the failure of this rack system. The urgency of this repair couldn't be expressed enough. In today's economy a manufacturing facility can not afford a single minute of downtime. In addition, downtime also directly affects the employees who are often sent home without pay because the line isn't running.

This was the case for our customer. We here at REA understand how such a situation affects all of those involved. We received the rack Next Day Air on Feb 24, 2009 and shipped it back on Feb 26. This was extremely challenging to do in such a short amount of time due to the number of units that comprised the rack system and the multiple failures it had. The failures were not centralized to any one area.

Our technicians rose to the challenge. The biggest problems we found were cold solder joints on surface mount devices. The power supply had multiple blown parts which we had here in our well stocked parts department. This is particularly advantageous as it eliminates the costly next day airing of repair parts Anyone who works in electronics knows how difficult these type of problems are to locate and correct!

The technicians painstakingly mapped out the circuits and went through every individual unit. They also checked the Eproms and copied them so we would have a back-up for the customer in the vent they were to lose their parameters. We have the capability here to burn replacement Eproms and promptly ship them to the customer. REA has gotten lots of customers back online over the years due to this capability without stepping foot in the facility, saving them money and downtime. The employees benefit by being able to stay on the job and earn money for their families. REA Technologies can most often provide a win-win situation for all concerned.

Contact REA Technologies today for any and all of your industrial electronic repair needs You will find us most accomodating. We are a family owned and oriented business. We look forward to hearing from you.

increased profit

REA Technologies is an electronics repairs company that specializes in the repair of CNC equipment for all fields of manufacturing. They excel in the areas of woodworking and metal working. Machines such as Biesse, Shoda, Homag, Torwegge, Berkel just to name a few in woodworking; and Mori Seike, Toyodo, Mazak, and Miyano in metalworking. REA can repair the machines that others can not. Their senior field technician has over 20 years experience and is a licensed engineer. Companies through out the United States as well as around the world have used REA to repair their machines and to increase production within their factories. This in turn will increase profit. In hard economic times every manufacturer needs to do all they can to increase the bottom line. REA can help to do just that. Give them a call to find out how they can help you to make more money.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

REA Technologies vs OEM's

As the purchasing agent for REA Technologies for the past 10 years I have encountered almost every machine manufacturer from the US to Asia to Europe. We here at REA excel in diagnosing, procuring required parts from anywhere in the world and repairing your down equipment at a fraction of what the OEM would charge. We will repair equipment that no one else can. We are not board changers, we go to component level and solve your problem cost effectively.

Case in point. We had a new customer who found us on the internet call me on a Sunday morning. He had a very old Yaskawa spindle motor that no one in his area would touch. Being a young man who had just started his own machining business he didn't know where to turn. After contacting me I offered him solutions to his problem. The encoder circuit board had sustained heavy damage. We were able to repair the pcb, make all the necessary adjustments, and turned his motor around in 24 hours at a fraction of what the OEM would have charged and in less time. Because he found us he didn't have to ship the motor overnight which would have been very costly as it weighed somewhere around 200lbs. He was very happy with our timely service as well as the repair charge. He is located in the Wilmington NC area and said he was going to back and tell everyone about REA Technologies.

This is just one of many examples of REA's capabilities. Our main priority here is customer satisfaction at a competitive, affordable cost while upholding to the highest repair standards in the industry. We are a 24/7/365 day repair facility and can travel nationwide at a moments notice.

Call us today and let us show you what we can do for you. We are leaps and bounds above the others!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Technical knowledge vs. following the book

Even the machine tool industry is prone to what I call the "punch key operator syndrome". I first noticed this in my earlier years of TV Repair calling in for tech support. It was abviuose these people had never worked on a TV before. Then I started no notice it AOL when the I first got the internet, and well I think you can figure out the rest. For the most part it means you cant think out side the box or book for that matter. If its not in the book, they cant help you. But it seems to spill out into the field tech area also.

A customer had called us in for a second opinion on a Weeke BP12 that they had recently moved into their facility that was bought at auction. This machine had a multitude of problems, some of wich they did not want to fix due to high cost to get the correct parts. After replacing a dead CPU board the customer had called in an OEM rep due to the Z-Axis moving erratically. One of the first things the OEM rep did was swap the Y and Z axis modules and control cables because they were not in the positions he was used to seeing them. After doing this the machine would run away and crash, and he told the customer they needed to replace all the boards in the NC rack.
Taking this information the customer gave me, I first looked at the axis drives and their connections to the motors and found these to be incorrect and corrected them. Now with the exception of the Z-axis, X & Y axis now homed smoothly, Z-Axis was erratic and would error out. I found this was caused by a bad contactor. In all it took me 2 hours to fix the problems that the OEM rep could not fix in 2 days.

I spent the next three days figuring out the operation of the machine and training the operator. Most of this time was wasted trying to run procedures that the OEM said had to be done for the machine to work with modifications that the previous owner had made. I found none of those needed to be done and all could be handled by simple options in the conversational programming section.

This was the first time I had ever seen a BP-12 so I had to rely solely on technical knowledge of how machines and control systems work, not what some book full of procedures that cant forsee every situation says to try or do.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Importance of Backups

Many times when we are called in to service a piece of equipment we discover that the company that called us does not have a backup copy of their machine information.

Most IT departments are familiar with backing up company servers, PCs and laptops religiously. For many, it's second nature. But because most IT personnel do not venture out onto the factory floor all that often, the computer controlled machinery out there gets overlooked.

Not many companies (the smaller ones especially) realize that the backbone of their business, the routers, lathes, mills, and other equipment that they depend on daily have software that needs to be backed up as well.

CNC machines all have parameters that need to be set exactly right, or the machine will not work correctly. Some of these parameter lists are pages and pages in length for some of the more complicated ones. These parameters are every bit as important (maybe more so) as documents and emails traditionally backed up off of office computers. Fanuc, Osai, Siemens, and many other companies all manufacture these CNC systems.

PLCs and automation equipment have software also. Most require special development software and hardware to interface with the PLCs to get the program off. But if your PLC battery fails, or the hardware has a glitch, you are looking at redevelopment of the entire program if you don't have a backup copy. That adds up to days and weeks of machine downtime while the program is recreated.

Most factories do not have the equipment needed to make backups of the programs in their industrial equipment. Often the price of the development software is cost prohibitive. We work on this equipment frequently enough that we have purchased many of these software packages.

That is why you should consider calling REA. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on software that you would rarely use, you can call us to come out, make your backups, and leave them with you. If anything should happen, you will have a current copy of everything needed to get you back up and running quickly.

We have extensive experience in backing up a vast number of different types of automation equipment from many manufacturers. Fanuc, Siemens, Allen Bradley, GE, Automation Direct, Mitsubishi, TI, Modicon, and many more.

Don't let a $5 dead battery shut down your entire production line. Make sure you have current backups of all your parameters and programs. Call us. We can help.

Hard to find parts

Do you have a broken widget that you can't find a source for? Call REA Technologies!

Because of our main business of repairing older factory automation and industrial equipment, we are often call upon to locate and procure oddball, obsolete, and hard to find parts.

Do you have a strange value fuse that you can't locate? A specific drop in replacement motor starter? Maybe a replacement for a temperature controller that isn't made any more?

Call us. We can help.

Ask for Denise. She can find anything.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Who we are

A little bit about us:

REA Technologies, Inc is an Industrial Electronics Company, headquartered in Connelly Springs, NC. We specialize in board level electronic repair, CNC troubleshooting, PLC programming and installation, and repairing / upgrading / refitting many types of industrial machinery.

We have done everything from replacing blown IGBTs in drive units to installation and programming of industrial robotics. Our staff has experience in equipment from many, many manufacturers, and can troubleshoot and repair virtually anything electronic.