Die Protection on a Tight Budget, Part 1
I will be sharing with you some of the cost shortcuts that I have developed in this field over the past 30 years. In this first of a series of columns on die-protection technology on a tight budget, I will outline the basic necessities that you need to have in place before you make any attempts at testing, mounting and implementing electronic sensors in your tooling. Subsequent columns will address the testing of your inventions and applications of electronic sensors in dies and tooling with minimal cost. Tight budgets will be our predominant guideline.
Those of you without economic restrictions may still enjoy these columns as it may enhance your basic understanding of electronic sensors and their applications in tooling or, at the very least, be a pleasant trip down memory lane as you recall your own past experiences in a similar situation.
For the next month or so, I would like you to contact vendors of electronic sensors and die-protection controls and create a library of their catalogs. These catalogs and associated literature are, for the most part, totally free. A good place to start locating these companies would be PMA’s supplier directory, www.metalformingsearch.com. Your maintenance and tool-design departments may have some current electronic sensor catalogs.
I also recommend the following two books as reference works that should be in this library: Electronics Demystified, by Stan Gibilisco, and The Art of Electronics, by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill. There will be situations, from time to time when you will need some basic electrical/electronic questions answered and these books are good sources for those answers. You will need to set aside a shelf dedicated to this library, which in time will occupy the better part of a bookcase.
This is not trivial. You need to have a business card with your contact information including your e-mail, telephone and fax numbers (these phone numbers can be the main company’s numbers and not necessarily dedicated telephone numbers for you personally). This business card is very important as the above sensors and die-protection controls companies will want to meet with you via their sales personnel to showcase their latest devices. It is paramount that you take this seriously as these personal visits will be a bottomless source of information for you in the future. Many of the sales persons that will be visiting with you will have had years of experience with the application of sensors. This is a good resource to have and it is free.
If you feel that as a toolmaker, machinist, millwright or maintenance person that you don’t need to have a business card for these visits. I could not disagree more. You will be meeting with these sales representatives in your company’s lobby, meeting room or toolmaker’s bench, etc., and you will be officially representing your company. Your business card does not have to have a title for you (a sticking point for some) rather its importance is in your contact information. If you do not have a company e-mail account—request one. Do not take someone else’s business card, and scratch off the printed name and handwrite yours in its place. Not a very professional thing to do.
Sensor Test Bench
Scavenge a used but sturdy bench with a shelf that you can dedicate to fulltime sensor experiments. You do not want to experiment with sensors on the actual dies or tooling. In future columns I will guide you as how to conduct these experiments, but they must take place at a dedicated sensor test bench.
As you will see, even if your budget prevents you from buying the fancier test equipment that is available, you will still have excellent results by utilizing your existing toolroom equipment to determine the best placement for the sensors in your dies and tooling with the final testing to take place on this sensor test bench. Placing this bench near your personal workbench would be a good idea. When monies are very limited, you do not need to have a separate room to locate the sensor test bench. The library should be placed on the shelf of the sensor test bench or next to it within a small and inexpensive bookcase.
By next month, those of you with tight company budgets and pressing needs for die protection should have the library in place along with your business card and the sensor test bench. The next column will show how to test your sensor ideas by using the existing equipment in your toolroom.
When it comes to sensors, tight budgets do not necessarily mean lean imaginations. MF
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