field service

Another Happy Customer — Up and Running Again

Posted August 25, 2020 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: field service, IIDM Behind the Scenes

Another happy customer of our Houston Field Service crew.

Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2020 11:44:25 AM
To: Jeremy Morgan <>
Subject: Electrical Work Perform on Parker Drive Cabinets

I just wanted to give you feed back on the work performed here last week.

Dick Harper & Chris Crisco both contributed to the successful return to service of a Parker system late Friday 8/21/2020

I just want to let you know how impressed I was with their work ethic, drive and determination to get us a win. The thorough attention to detail ensured no chance of exposure.

We are back on line producing again, 16 hours of machine stop can seem like an eternity as you know.

Good Team you have there!!

Best regards, George, Plant Manager

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Another Happy Customer in Chicago

Posted August 7, 2017 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, field service

Here's an email our Chicago branch manager Tim Mueller received from one of our Chicagoland customers today.

Sent: Monday, August 07, 2017 10:16 AM
To: Tim Mueller <>
Cc: Trevor Sisco <>; Jonathan Dutton <>
Subject: Job well done

Good morning, Tim. I’m head of Engineering in Skokie. We have been working with Trevor and Jonathon on some automation ideas we’ve had. I wanted to give you some feedback on recent activity with them.

Recently, an older piece of processing equipment for one of our key production lines failed. We were unable to find the problem with internal resources and the equipment was old enough that the manufacturer was refusing to help.

Based on our prior history with Trevor and Jonathon tackling unusual equipment problems I decided to call I-IDM and see if they were willing to try and help, even though they hadn’t ever seen this equipment or process before. Trevor’s quick coordination and willingness to take on challenging issues, combined with Jonathon’s technical skill and immediate responsiveness saved the day.

I-IDM had our equipment diagnosed, repaired, and back up and running within 2 days – I’m convinced it would have been sooner had parts been readily available.  Outstanding service from exceptional people – well done!

V.P. – Engineering

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Lathe Machine, Age 103, Still Running Thanks to Electronic Drives

Posted February 6, 2017 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, field service


The lathe machine motor nameplate dates it to turn of century...yes, THAT turn of century.

When a 100-year-old lathe machine pairs with a modern DC drive, beautiful things can happen (and much money can be saved).

A large machine shop called and asked our Innovative-IDM onsite repair team to troubleshoot some pre-World War II era motor-generator (MG) controls. The equipment being controlled was a very large Betts lathe machine with a 30-inch bed.

Betts machinery has a long and storied history in American manufacturing lore. No one at the shop knew exactly how old the lathe machine was, but (to get an idea) the last U.S. Patent date on the motor nameplate is 1914.

After troubleshooting the exciter/speed controls for a while (with limited documentation to rely on) we found multiple burned components. We started talking about retrofitting, which we determined would consist of a 250HP AC motor, a gearbox, and new VFD and controls.

Too expensive and too much time.

I had an idea. Innovative-IDM is a distributor for Bardac drives, and because of that relationship, we were able to secure next-day delivery of two small, 16 amp, analog DC drives.

The following day, we installed these Bardac drives in the MG cabinet. We set them up as field controllers to regulate current on the field windings of the DC generator and DC lathe machine motor.

Despite being more than a century old, we got this motor up and running again using electronic drives.

Despite being over a century old, we got this lathe machine motor up and running again using electronic drives.

Long story short: By regulating these fields with small electronic drives, we replaced an entire cabinet full of 80-year-old components with two small circuit boards.

The century-old lathe machine motor runs sweeter than ever, and the old motor-generator controls set is still kicking. The customer was back running the lathe machine in a day. He saved tens of thousands of dollars on what would have otherwise been an expensive and time-consuming retrofit.

Onsite repairs is all about troubleshooting and finding the best solution for the customer. Sometimes that means a complete retrofit, and other times a little creative problem solving and a great relationship with a vendor like Bardac. Contact me at the email below if you need onsite repair.... or, just want to talk about old lathes.


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

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Troubleshooting Temperature Controllers

Posted February 1, 2017 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, field service


We often get calls for troubleshooting temperature controllers. Here are some tips that can save you some money and time.

My Field Service Technicians and I frequently are deployed to customer sites for “Failed” temperature controllers. There are numerous brands of temperature controllers in the market. Applications range from ovens to extrusion machines. Yet most temperature controllers share the same common functions. When troubleshooting temperature controllers, here are a few tips from a guy like me who’s done it plenty of times.

troubleshooting temperature controllers

When troubleshooting temperature controller, it's wise to remember that the problem usually is NOT the controller itself. But you have to rule that out, first.

Usually, the actual temperature controller is NOT the problem. Temperature controllers normally have one or two control outputs to adjust the process temperature: A heat inputand (if required) a cool output. The temperature controller also may have outputs for alarms. The temperature outputs normally control relays (solid-state or conventional) or contactors. This is because the temperature controller outputs are either low voltage DC or 120VAC and the heaters or fans require high voltage 230-460VAC.

Solid state relays are preferred because of the numerous switching (On/Off) as the unit tries to maintain temperature. A simple method of determining why a unit is not maintaining temperature is to look at the display on the controller.

Normally, Output 1 is assigned to Heat and Output 2 is assigned to Cool. As the unit is started up and a temperature higher than the “Process Value” is set, you should see Output 1 come on (Unit is calling for Heat). This should continue until the unit reaches the “Set Value.” At that point, Output 1 should go off (plus or minus 5-10 degrees). Output 2 (Unit is calling for Cool) should come on if the Process Value exceeds the Set Value and go off once the Set Value is reached (Plus or Minus 5-10 degrees).

If this is happening, the next place to check is on the actual item being controlled (relay or contactor). Observe the relay/contactor to see if it is actually operating when the output is on (normally, relays have indicator lights and contactors can be checked visually).

Also, check the input and output high voltage going to the relay/contactor. If this checks out good, then the problem lies in either the actual heating element or the fan. For heating elements, a continuity check of the element normally will tell if it is open (bad).


Hopefully these simple checks can help you when troubleshooting temperature controllers and have your equipment back in operation faster. If not, our field service team is always standing by to assist.

Lonnie Gillilan is the Dallas field service manager for Innovative-IDM. You can reach him at 

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Fire Damaged Control Panel Repaired

Posted April 1, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: AC Drives, Blog, field service

Tags: , ,

The wastewater plant called Friday morning, needing an emergency repair on a fire damaged control panel. The thing  had gone up in flames. Click on the photos below for more of the gory details.

This customer is about two hours away. I scrambled to get together parts I thought I might need and hit the road. On the way out there, my network of co-workers put together an email containing drawings and DC drive settings from when we had modified the system (more than 10 years earlier). I also had a parts list and an explanation of how the machine, which the panel controlled, was supposed to operate.

When I arrived onsite I was told again how critical this fire damaged control panel was to the operation. The panel controlled a centrifuge at a municipal wastewater treatment plant. A speedy repair was critical.

Opening the panel revealed charred components top to bottom. Most of the insulation had burned off the wires, and no labels were to be found. I started pulling out the destroyed and damaged parts and wires.

By Friday evening, I had most of the panel empty, a new Bardac drive ordered for Saturday delivery, and a list of necessary parts. I returned to Houston, collected the relays, timers, contactors, and wires that I would need to rebuild the panel.

Saturday, I returned to the wastewater site and worked all day cleaning out the panel and installing all the parts. There were three sets of drawings for this machine because it had been modified a several times. Much of the new wiring had to be done based on how they wanted it to work, rather than following the drawings. I had to again call in for some backup help from colleagues to get the old drive settings in to the new unit. By Saturday night (around 11 p.m.), the centrifuge system was again operational.

Jon McPherson


I returned a couple of times the next week to clean up the panel, install new Delta-wye start contactors, and build and install the necessary mounting brackets. The customer was excited to have the system working again.

Jon McPherson is an Innovative-IDM field service technician based in Houston. You can contact him at


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