Automation Now: News and Info for Users of Motion Control

Yaskawa Application Overview: Rotary Knife

Posted October 9, 2019 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog

Click here for the full "Application Overview: Rotary Knife" from Yaskawa.

The rotary knife is a common application in the packaging industry where many products are packaged using a seal-and-cut technique. Packaging is fed from a continuous roll and is formed into a tube around the product and the package is then sealed and cut by a rotating knife. Rotary knives are also used in other applications where the process involves matching speed with a conveyor mechanism at consistent product spacing, such as stamping a package.

A sensor reads small marks on the package (called “registration marks”) that determine where the knife is to make its cut. It is almost always important in a rotary cam application that the knife-speed matches the line-speed during the cut. This is defined as the cut region and is consistent on each cycle. The built-in linear cam shifting and linear interpolation of the controller handle all required adjustments. By utilizing the camming function of the Yaskawa controllers, accurate and smooth mechanics can be achieved. Zero drift occurs over time because registration is used on each product, guaranteeing consistent cut lengths each cycle.

Call Innovative-IDM at 877.906.2100 or send us an email at for all of your Yaskawa product needs. Innovative-IDM is your #1 Yaskawa supplier.

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How to Control High Voltage Spikes

Posted October 2, 2019 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog

Hi, my name is Andy Lewis with Innovative IDM. A lot of the times when I'm out in the industrial sector, I find a lot of my customers have problems with transients aka surges, sags, or swells. Generally, what occurs here is due to your utility company who provides a power factor correction.

Now this can be done in a variety of ways. Switching due to time, temperature, or it could be fixed based upon certain times of the day or temperature once again. Whenever this occurs, this actually sends a spike throughout your electrical circuit through your service entrance down to your intermediary bus duct and right into your machines.

What does this cause? Parameter failure and/or loss, PLC reset, and down time due to machines having to be restarted. This causes a lot of problems for production, lots of money, lots of time, and headache.

There's a couple of ways you can fix it actually. At the service entrance, you can actually use a MOV and selenium stack transient suppression unit. What this does is the MOV's will take on the instantaneous voltage spike, but it can't handle it for too long because they're self sacrificing.

What will happen then is there's a handshake from the MOV's (metal oxide varistors) to the selenium stack, which will handle the brute force of the transient. After that, you could actually have surge protection in an intermediary way at the bus duct, which will include once again the MOV's and the selenium stack, but once again not in as large of a size.

Finally, at point of use you could actually use MOV's to help protect the machine from anything that's come down stream already.

If you'd like more information on this please contact us at and remember Innovative IDM is the home of the legendary customer experience.

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Why You Need to Backup Your PLC Programs

Posted September 18, 2019 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog

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Hi, I’m Lonnie Muse with Innovative IDM. I would like to talk to you a little bit about why you should back up your PLC, but first I’d like to show you something. Something that’s really horrifying. Something that will just kill your day at the plant. This is what we need to look at. This is something nobody noticed. Nobody noticed that PLC light going off. Here’s the culprit: a little bitty $40 battery. You know what the result was? The programs got lost when they turned the power off, turned the machine back on. Guess what? No production. Can you imagine this: you’ve got a production line down because of a battery. And no backup when the tech tells you "there’s no backup. I don’t have the programs. We don’t know where they’re at. We can’t find them." How long do you think that’ll be down?

Now the first big issue is being prepared for that. This is a $40 resolution. Make sure to keep the PLC on so you don’t lose it when you change this. The next thing is to backup your programs in the PLC. There’s a couple of ways to do that. One is a little SanDisk that will fit in a PLC normally. The other is something like a CD, your server, or a laptop. If you have the backup along with the software to put it in and out of your machine, then the battery’s not such a big deal because you can recover. But if you don’t have this, recovery is a lot of money and a lot of time because now you’ve got to recreate everything from scratch. And that’s thousands, maybe 10 thousands of dollars.

So you get a choice here, $40 or $10,000, a few minutes and a few cents or 10 pounds. You pick. We can help with that backup issue! Give us a call at Innovative IDM or go on our website at click on the field service and request some help. Come out and do that. Give me a call, I'd be glad to help. After all, we're the home of the legendary customer experience.

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Yaskawa Application Overview: Grinder

Posted September 10, 2019 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog

Click here for the full "Application Overview: Grinder" from Yaskawa.

Heavy cutting is done at slow speed. With a constant wheel pressure on the material to be shaped, the pounds/minute of material removed, or work done, varies with the wheel speed. This is the constant torque part of the profile. After the heavy cutting is complete, a polishing (light cutting) operation is performed. A high speed, lighter wheel-to-material pressure is maintained; therefore, less material in pounds/minute is removed. This is the constant horsepower part of the load profile.

Yaskawa AC drives have features that save energy, which allows the motor to run at optimal efficiency and precision when performing light grinding. Energy Saving Mode also reduces motor noise and stabilizes the load, perfecting the finishing process. Yaskawa AC drives can automatically detect changes to the amount of torque required during the shaping and finishing phases using Torque Detection. This feedback enables the drive to quickly detect changes as the grinding stone dulls or clogs. This can lead to significant cost savings by prolonging the life of grinding stones.

Innovative-IDM is your #1 Yaskawa supplier. Call us today at 877.906.2100 or send us an email at

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Top 5 Reasons Allen-Bradley May Not Be Your Best Application Solution

Posted September 4, 2019 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog

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Hi, my name is Jack Marsh with Innovative IDM. Today I’d like to talk a little bit about Allen Bradley and maybe perhaps why it’s not always the best solution for your application. Allen Bradley makes fine products, and they are quality products, and they’ve got a very broad offering, but they are not always the perfect solution for every application. We’ve really identified 5 reasons why that’s the case.

Allen Bradley has a very successful top down marketing approach and convinced large end users in specific market segments to standardize on their products. And then those end users can dictate to the machine builders that they go to that Allen Bradley products is going to be used in their machines. But that allows Allen Bradley to charge more for their hardware and software. They don’t have to be competitive with the market if their users are dictating their products are going to be used in the machines. There’s also the support cost. If you don’t have a service agreement, a purchase order, or a credit card handy when you call Allen Bradley for factory support, you’re going to be out of luck. So you better have those things in mind when you call to get support from them.

Then, all of their software is sold on an a la carte basis. So say for example you purchase the PLC programming software then say later on down the road you find that you need to configure some network communications, or perhaps you want to simulate the PLC and HMI interactions without having the hardware present. That network communication suite is an additional product you’re going to have to purchase. The simulation package is an additional product you’re going to have to purchase. Wherein a lot of other manufacturers, those functions are built in to the software you buy for the programming.

Another thing Allen Bradley does that allows them to offer a very broad product line without incurring high development cost is to private label products from other manufacturers, but the downside of that is there is not a consistent look and feel across the product line. So a small ac drive for example might program and configure completely differently than the large variable frequency drives from Allen Bradley. And if one of the manufacturers that they're private labeling from happens to have a discontinuation or product change, there are ramifications for Allen Bradley products that are beyond their control. There might not be a simple replacement for that.

And then the last thing to consider is the international support. While Allen Bradley has a very large market share in the U.S., their presence in Europe and Asia is not nearly as large. So if you’re building machines for the overseas market and you’re going to need support after it’s installed, that might be an issue.

If you’d like to research some of the options to Allen Bradley such as Omron, Yaskawa, Parker, or Wago, please visit our website at and remember Innovative IDM is the home of the legendary customer experience.

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5 Most Common Reasons an AC Drive Ends Up Needing Repair

Posted August 28, 2019 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog

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Hi, I’m Lonnie Muse with Innovative IDM. I'm going to talk a little bit about AC drives this morning. These things are wonderful. They have come into being, they've lasted a long time, and there’s a real great need for them in our plants. But they are put into some places that have difficult environments. So I want to kind of talk about the AC drive failures.

Maybe how to mitigate it a little bit and what causes them. The biggest cause is not the product itself but the things that surround it. Heat is the biggest issue. It does generate a little bit of heat. It adds to the environment that's outside the ambient temperature. All the other products in the panel that are creating heat add to the source. If we don’t get that heat out of there or cool it down, overtime this will die. Especially if it’s a dusty environment or other airborne things that are attracted to the fans in the back of the drive aren’t cleaned out. Or the fan of the AC drive stops, not pulling the air through.

The biggest thing is heat, we need to mitigate that. The next thing is power spikes that come through. Whether it’s caused by machines upstream, lighting, the power company, or somebody hitting a power pole outside, power spikes can kill these drives rather quickly. So we need to take steps to eliminate some of that or at least reduce it. One of the steps could be putting a reactor in front of the drive. That will help keep the power spikes from coming in and damaging the drive.

Another area where a drive fails is because of the other end that is attached to the motor. If the motor is not taken care of or if the bearings aren’t greased, there are issues that a motor – and this is related to heat as well – can short out. And if it shorts, normally it’s going to take the drive as well. It’s going to short internally, draw too much current, and will damage the drive. Check the motors.

The next one is age. The mean time between failure for these typical drives here is 28 years. But I guarantee you if you don’t do things ahead of time and keep it working when it gets to 10 years, 15 years, 20 years we’re going to start having failure. Can you imagine 20 years old and still running? Some of us don’t drive cars that old. Age can affect things. Things deteriorate, change over time, and eventually there’s failure.

The largest one and usually it happens on the front end when a drive is being installed is it’s installed incorrectly. What I have seen in my experience, customers put the input power on the power leads of the drive which just tears it up. It fails. We have 24 volts for the inputs and outputs and we'll put 110 on it. So sometimes it’s installation driven. Not the product itself just improper installation.

If you’d like to know more about this, come see us at We’ve got white papers, we’ve got products, we’ve got technical expertise that can help. After all we're the home of legendary customer experience.

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