Yearly Archives: 2016

Choosing an Industrial Repairs Service

Posted December 29, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, Industrial Maintenance

When your assembly line is down and it's time for choosing an industrial repairs and field service company, make sure the company can be reached 24/7.

It might take a couple of hours for a technician to arrive on the scene, but make sure the phone is answered 24/7. Here are some other tips on choosing an industrial repairs service.

  • Cheapest rates are not always in your best interest. If you want an electrician, that’s one rate. If you want a technician who can program AC drives, troubleshoot PLC programs AND fix your electrical problems, that’s another rate.
  • Does the field service company have access to parts 24/7? Are they supported by a warehouse? Do they have relationships directly with the machine component manufacturers? All of this can save time.
  • Establish a relationship with several field service companies. If you have an emergency and your primary company is busy, now what? Invite several field service companies into your plant to familiarize them with your machines. It could save you a lot headaches later.
  • Keep those industrial field service phone numbers where all of your staff can see them. Don’t waste time looking for contact information.

After the devastating floods in Baton Rouge last fall, Fairchild uses a pressure sprayer on an electrical panel in a printing plant. No, it's not plugged in.

One of our customers recently let the smoke out of their obsolete, 600-amp DC drive. Of course, they needed a replacement tomorrow. Why do all emergencies seem to happen at 5 on Friday afternoon?

I called our headquarters in Dallas, and we manage to use our pull with Bardac Drives, since we also are an authorized distributor for Bardac. Yes, they have one in stock. And yes, they agree to drive the package to the UPS terminal to be shipped out same day. Pretty good for after 5 p.m. on Friday huh? Hats off to the people at Bardac. But, we’re not out of the woods yet.

After working well into the Satruday night helping the customer retrofit his brand new Bardac drive, it’s time to start it up. But we can’t. There is some kind of mechanical issue.
“Can you beback first thing in the morning?”

Sure I can.

Well, honestly I wasn’t exactly prepared to stay overnight on this job, which was three hours away from home. I cannot find a store open at midnight in Picayune, Miss., and the Holiday Inn front desk is out of complimentary toothbrushes.


I decide that today is not my day. I show up that next morning wearing the same clothes, (pretty nasty I know). But the customer was extremely grateful. The Friday afternoon breakdown could easily have been a week or more of downtime. But thanks to Bardac, the Holiday Inn and some dedication, it was only two days.I now keep a “go” bag in my truck at all times.

Joey Fairchild is a field service technician in IIDM's Baton Rouge location. He can be reached at

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Robotics Lab Helps Initiatives Surge Forward

Posted December 7, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, Robotics

Manufacturing plants are investing resources in robotics. Since installing a proof-of-concept robotics lab at its Texas headquarters, Innovative-IDM has seen a surge of curious engineers and plant managers asking the question: "How can robots handle my application?"

Innovative’s robotics lab currently includes multiple robots integrated with conveyors, vision, AC drives, PLCs and pneumatics. It’s a great lab to prepare for an initial robot installation, test applications or further advance knowledge of Omron Adept's SCARA and Parallel machines, as well as Rethink's Collaborative robots. (The lab also has a model of what is claimed to be the world's fastest robot.)

The robotics lab has been busy. In October, IIDM hosted a Robot Day for manufacturing plant executives. And last week, in an effort to stay ahead of customer demands, IIDM brought in more than a dozen of its field technicians and engineers for three days of intensive hands-on training -- this time on the Omron Adept line of robots.

In the past month, IIDM implemented robotics solutions for customers at nearly every branch location -- most recently last Friday in Austin.

Another Robot Day is planned for Q1 2017, and additional training for both customers and IIDM techs is planned as well. If you want to be involved, or if you would like for us to test your proof-of-concept to see if robotics can keep your plant globally competitive, email us at

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MVP Supports Veterans this Holiday Season!

Posted by Omar Mediano

Categories: IIDM Behind the Scenes

Our Innovative-IDM MVP’ers on Friday, November 18, 2016 assisted the Veterans Coalition of North Central Texas (VCNCT) and other volunteers from local businesses in the sorting, counting and bagging of over 550 Thanksgiving meals (over 8,000 individual items) for our military veterans who, without the support of VCNCT, may not have had a Thanksgiving meal for themselves or their families.

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Choosing Between Steel or Aluminum Framing

Posted November 3, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Aluminum Extrusion, Blog


When choosing between steel and aluminum framing, you'll want to consider such factors as vibration, permanency of the structure, and the future modifications of the structure.

When choosing between steel and aluminum framing, you'll want to consider such factors as vibration, permanency of the structure, and the future modifications of the structure.

Are you on the fence about choosing between steel or aluminum framing for your machine? Despite the many presentations, articles, and forums that provide helpful pieces of information for engineers approaching this fork in the design road, sometimes it's a good idea to take advice from a trusted partner.

I wrote about this subject on the Parker IPS blog. Some of the fundamental decisions involve selecting the type of material needed to build the actual machine; how to enclose or guard the machine; or possibly determining how modular you want to make the machine. Typically, the material selection comes down to two choices: aluminum (t-slot framing) or steel structural framing.

Something important to consider when choosing between steel or aluminum framing is the total machine cost. Let’s take a few moments to focus on some of the aspects of the total machine cost for aluminum and steel structural framing.

Total machine cost

If you are examining material cost per pound data, then steel structural framing will look very appealing. Aluminum structural framing, per pound, will cost more due to the raw material costs, but let’s consider a few more factors. Although steel structural framing is about 2.5 times denser and is certainly suited for high vibration or heavy load applications, aluminum structural framing can be considered a cost-saving material for several reasons.

Aluminum maintenance savings

  • It's easy to replace a component in an aluminum structural framing system, specifically a t-slot aluminum framed system
  • Inexpensive assembly tools (Allen wrench, screwdriver and, possibly, a mallet)
  • Time is money - you'll complete a t-slot aluminum structural framing design faster than a welded steel design

Aluminum weighs roughly 33% less than steel

  • Reduced processing
  • Lower assembly cost
  • Cost-effective tooling
  • Easier modifications

Aluminum sustainability and longer life

  • Lighter loads require smaller motors and mechanics
  • Longer life and sustainability - More than 75% of the aluminum produced since 1888 is still in productive use today (Source:

These are just some of the value drivers to consider when making a decision on the type of material to use in your structural framing, viewed through the lens of total machine cost. Use this knowledge to your advantage and, before you begin your next project, download our structural framing design checklist.



Mario Mitchell is product manager for IPS T-Slot Aluminum Framing, Electromechanical & Drives Division, Parker Hannifin Corporation

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