Monthly Archives: March 2017

DC Drive Retrofit Staves Off Downtime

Posted March 16, 2017 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Uncategorized

One of our customers manufactures corrugated cardboard boxes. This control panel powers the main motor on a cardboard corrugating machine.

The customer understands the power of preventive maintenance and uses our field service technicians to retrofit a new DC drive into the box before the old ones develop problems. This avoid the costly emergency breakdown scenario.

Joey Fairchild, our field service tech in our Baton Rouge office, scheduled the retrofit for a holiday when the plant was closed. He installed the new drive, cleaned up the cabinet and the plant was good to go when the workers came back from the holiday.

Before Retrofit

After Retrofit by IIDM Field Service


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Beware the Ides of March: The 2,061st Anniversary of Caesar’s Assassination

Posted March 15, 2017 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog

Ides of March assassination scene

Caesar takes one for the team on March 15, 44 B.C.


“Beware, the Ides of March.” That was the soothsayer’s warning to his Emperor. And so on March 15, 44 B.C, Caesar was assassinated, shanked 23 times by his close friends. The words “And you, too, Brutus?” have become Shakespearean symbolism for the ultimate betrayal.

There is very little evidence of any industrial automation or controls in this scene, except for the automation of all of the daggers and knives. Some say the stock market even is wary of the Ides of March.

Today is the Ides of March. Are you wary, or simply thinking about the green beer you’ll tip back in 48 hours?

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Dallas Branch Fajeeets, Courtesy of Shop and Warehouse Colleagues

Posted March 13, 2017 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: IIDM Behind the Scenes

Our monthly Buzz's Bar and Grille in Dallas are headed up by the Dallas Culture Improvement Agency (CIA) and executed on by a different Dallas branch department each month. Today's beef and chicken fajitas were graciously provided and prepared by our Manufacturing Shop and Warehouse departments (with usual helping hands of the CIA members). MMMMMmmmmmm, good. Thanks to Jasmine Saniei in our marketing department for the vid.

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4 Easy Ways to Reduce Industrial Accidents in Your Facility

Posted March 8, 2017 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, Industrial Machine Safety, Machine Guarding


Everyone talks about ways to reduce industrial accidents. We hang warning signs in our facilities, we keep score of days without injuries, and we talk in meetings about how to reduce industrial accidents.

I’ve been in plants for more than 30 years and there are a lot of unsafe things you just would not believe. Here are four tips to reduce industrial accidents in your manufacturing facility.

Pay attention to Pinch Points

Many people don’t pay attention to pinch points on machines, places where I can get close and get my clothes or my fingers or my toes into a gear, a shear or anything else along that way. We need machine guarding on that. Guarding can come in the form of aluminum extrusion framing, fencing, something to block people from getting to that point, or light curtains, or other opportunities for it to stop the machine so those pinch points won’t happen. We've got to pay attention to what’s around the machine so that it doesn’t hurt people, because we know that they are not going to pay attention.

Aim to reduce industrial accidents. What's wrong with this picture?

To give you an example, in a foundry where we were pouring aluminum into a mold, here’s a big vat with several thousand degrees of molten aluminum. Our robot dipped into the vat, pulled out the aluminum and headed down the line to a mold. One of the operators came out in front of the robot as it was running down the line, everybody’s screaming at him to get out of the way. He said, "It will see me." Robots don’t have eyes. And he was lucky that the molten aluminum didn’t hit him or he wouldn’t have any eyes, either.

People don’t pay attention, so we have to help and protect them. Machine builders today in the U.S. are not required to incorporate all the guarding and safety features. And there are plenty machines lacking for safety. So, it’s up to the user to make sure their machines are guarded well and live up to OSHA standards.

Make Sure Your E-Stop Actually Works

Do your emergency stop buttons actually stop the machine in time? E-stops are important. Are they within reach where the operators are? Are there pull switches where the operator can get a hold of them? Schmersal has an excellent PDF on E-stops you can read for more information.

Wear  Proper Protective Equipment.

On the electrical side, I’m talking about PPE: Personal Protect Equipment. Face shields, Nomex coveralls that won’t burn. If a worker opens an electrical panel  and there’s an arc flash - if you’re not protected you will be awfully sorry. Protective glasses, ear plugs, all sorts of protection equipment is available to reduce industrial accidents. There’s electrical protection, too. For instance, ground fault isolation features in the panels. If you’re missing a ground and don’t have a ground fault, you could have people shocked.

Properly Report Any Incidents

The last tip to reduce industrial accidents is that management should properly report any safety incidents that do happen. OSHA requires that report. If you’re not following the OSHA rules then when the inspector comes in, for whatever reason, you could be in a little bit of trouble.

Lonnie Muse


Lonnie Muse has three decades of experience as a controls engineer and has seen numerous, mind-numbing instances of plant safety violations. If you need help solving your safety challenges, contact him at

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