In our consumerist, open market economy, we have been taught to shop for the best price. You’ve heard the statement, “nobody pays list retail price anymore.” At the same time people will tell you to be careful when looking at two items to make sure you are truly getting an “apples to apples” comparison.
Today, the majority of industrial companies have professional buying organizations whose job it is to make sure they get the best price on components they buy. However, many times when they go shopping they get lost in the fruit aisle and come home with a lemon instead of an apple.
So why does this happen. These are very conscientious people working hard to save money for their company and get what the production team needs to optimize the business. The problem is that sometimes the price tag covers up the fruit and they don’t realize how good or bad it is until they get it home. To make better decisions it is necessary to look behind the price tag. This is called Product Lifecycle analysis.
Here’ a basic example, you buy a mechanical connector for $30 and it takes an electrician to install it that costs you $45. From the simple price tag view this connector cost you $75. However, this connector experiences a failure once a year due to corrosion or frictional wear. So the next year you have to buy another connector for $30, it takes an electrician to replace the old one, only this time it is at night and you have to pay call time, so it costs you $100 to replace. Also, while that connector was failed, the production line was down for 1 hour that cost you $160. So that $75 connector in a 12 month period has actually cost you $365. And guess what – that keeps occurring each year, so after 48 months you have spent $1,235 on that connector choice.
Compare that with a Proxi-Point non-contacting connector. Let’s say you buy the unit for $300, 10 times more than the other connector. You then pay $45 to install it. The non-contacting connector, with all of the traditional causes of connector failure eliminated, lasts for 48 months with no maintenance. When you look at your fruit bill over the four years, the traditional, less expensive connector has cost you $1,235 while the non-contacting one has cost you $345. That’s a lot more fruit you could have purchased.
So, next time your purchasing team is looking to help you buy connectors, steer them down the aisle to true savings. Go contactless, go Proxi-Point.
Often times we find ourselves wishing that things were different. We play the “what if” game. Unfortunately this isn’t limited to our personal lives, it also applies to the way we approach our jobs.
Often times, we know that we have a problem that just keeps occurring and we assume that it is just how it has to be. It’s always been that way, smarter people than me have tried to change it, but it is still happening. I find this to be true with engineers when it comes to electrical connectors. Their local connector distributor comes in with the latest design that they guarantee will fix the problem. They are skeptical, but try it. When they first put it in it seems better, but at the worst possible time, the new connector fails just like the old one did. Maybe it lasted two months longer, so a little improvement, but it just cements the thought that this problem just cannot be fixed. You hate being called to the plant in the middle of the night to fix it, but what else can you do?
PowerbyProxi has worked with companies to develop non-contacting connectors called the Proxi-Point. The Proxi-Point can be sealed to IP 69 level, deliver power from watts to kilowatts, has no moving parts or frictional connection, allows for the direct replacement of current mechanical connectors while offering a high reliability, no maintenance solution.
I know, you’re saying, why try it, it will just end up like every other connector I have tried. Unlike the next generation contacting connector, a non-contacting connector truly eliminates the sources of connector failure.
Isn’t it time you show everyone that those other people really weren’t smarter than you?
We live in a connected world. You’ve surely heard about the theory of 3⁰s of separation. New connection platforms arise every day, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Skype or mobile phones. Our ability to reach beyond what we ever imagined 15 years ago is now accepted as a standard part of life, especially for the 30 and under crowd. I am still amazed at the people I see in airports and restaurants that are connecting on these platforms almost continuously. To be honest it wears me out.
So why has connectivity in industrial applications lagged behind? Oh, I’m not talking about communication; I am talking about power delivery. The mechanical connector has served us well over the last century, but isn’t it time we pulled the plug. Today’s highly automated manufacturing and industrial machinery offer significant capability that again was never envisioned 15 years ago, let alone 100 years ago. To walk through an automobile assembly plant today, robots are picking, placing, welding, sealing, rotating, aligning, and finishing assembly processes that were at one time tedious human processes. I’m not here to discuss or argue the positive or negative impact this has had on the cost of products or the middle class workforce; we will leave that to our politicians.
What I will say is that the continued use of traditional contacting mechanical connectors limits the continued advancement and utilization of these technologies. Has there been mechanical connector innovation and improvement over the past 100 years? Absolutely. Has there been enough? Absolutely not.
Our next generation non-contacting, or wireless power Proxi-Point based connectors allow transmission through an air gap to eliminate the chances for corrosion or mechanical failure. It eliminates the limitations that mechanical contact demands, while offering new degrees of flexibility in design of automated equipment. The system is fully automatic, so as the transmitter and receiver are brought into close proximity the power is instantly flowing powering up all of the controls, sensors and actuators. This allows for moving parts to maintain a high reliability connection or to have interchangeable parts or components to rapidly come online during a change out. The system also integrates bi-directional data transfer through the same wireless connector.
We applaud the innovation that has occurred in the field of process and equipment automation, but isn’t it time you eliminated the next barrier to even greater gains and applications. It’s time to get disconnected, to allow new levels of connectivity.
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I’m not sure why the telephone seems to be a common factor in all my blogs. Maybe people’s need to communicate and be heard is the source of all problems, and all solutions. I think I’ll hold that thought for my next counseling session.
Today, the majority of residential telephones have gone cordless. What does that mean? It means that the cable between the telephone receiver and the handset has been eliminated. And oh how wonderful that is. As a teenager (and yes they had telephones back then, but the telephone number in the US was a letter and four digits, not the 7 digit one of today, but I digress), I remember wanting privacy to talk to some young lady or the other, so I put this very long coily cord on the phone to allow me to stretch the handset into my room so I could close the door. This cord was always a tangled mess, and with the continuous stretching it would, over time, fail. Now the battery powered cordless phone comes along and all of that mess is gone. Hallelujah! But this left the coily cord manufacturers looking their declining market straight in the eye and saying, “we need to find someone else to use our product or we’re out of business”.
Enter materials handling and other construction equipment where technology innovation was looking to put sensors and controllers on moving components like clamping attachments on forklifts or alignment sensors on road paving machines. The coily cord industry was saved. Now the telephone cord issue of my youth is the nightmare of industrial equipment manufacturers. Instead of a privacy issue, they have a productivity issue. One forklift attachment company has said “no more”. They contacted PowerbyProxi and we worked with them on the special application of our Proxi-Point system with both power and data transfer to eliminate the coily cord and this source of downtime and customer frustration.
In closing, I want to say I have nothing against coily cord manufacturers and in fact wish them great success in creating another market while we are fixing this one. Then we’ll meet them there. Ah, the circle of life.
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Working at PowerbyProxi and with my colleagues on the convenience of wireless recharging of my smartphone is great, but to be honest with you, there are times as a manufacturing person I wish the battery were dead.
It is 3 a.m. and you’re finally getting that much needed REM sleep, and your phone starts to ring. Your spouse mumbles something as they roll away from you and your noisy phone. It’s the plant. Another connector failure on a bolster that is being put into the press has the line down and you need to come in to repair it. Why? These stupid connectors repetitively get damaged during bolster change, or contamination has built up while the bolster was out of the press and it won’t connect anymore.
As you drive to the plant blurry eyed in the darkness you say to yourself “there must be a better way.” Well one major automotive company went from thinking to acting. They contacted PowerbyProxi and asked, “can you help?”. The answer was absolutely!
Working with the customer, PowerbyProxi has installed one of our Proxi-Point solutions that offers non-contacting, robust, IP68 sealed transmission and receiving of power through an airgap to eliminate the chances for corrosion or damaged pins. The system is fully automatic, so as a new bolster is rolled into the press, the transmitter and receiver are brought into close proximity and the power is instantly flowing – powering up all of the controls, sensor and actuators. Oh, and before I forget, the system has integrated data transfer with our Proxi-Com solution, so in this application, Ethernet/IP data is also flowing bi-directionally through the same wireless connector.
So, while you’re on your way to the plant in the dark to fix this connector problem again, in another town, your counterpart at this automotive company is sleeping like a baby.
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