The traditional process of potting for the electronics industry was manual and this suffered from a few drawbacks. The most prominent of these drawbacks were errors in the proportion of mixing materials, the low speed of potting, machine downtime, and inconsistency in production. Many of these drawbacks were addressed with the
introduction of Automation. We had spoken, in a previous blog, about why (and how) to automate Potting tasks. But the manufacturing world is always looking for ways to become even more efficient, more profitable, and to achieve higher quality. This means a continuous technology-driven evolution. Let’s look at what could be next in the world of Potting.
IoT, the so-called Internet of Things, is making great strides by adapting to the ruggedizing processes in industrial manufacturing. This technology could fundamentally change the way Potting is performed in the future. It could turn out to be a game-changing solution to address predictive maintenance, production monitoring, and process control. The coming journey to introduce Internet of Things in the Potting process The process of Potting is inherently difficult to perfect. Maintaining the desired mix, temperature, viscous and other physical properties of the adhesives and other materials to be dispensed, as well as maintaining strict control over the dispensing volumes is a challenging task. Factors such as dust, chemicals and salts, vibration, humidity, and temperature variations can impact electronic potting and encapsulation processes. And this is where IoT could play a major role.
Here are some ways that the Potting process could benefit from the addition of IoT:
IoT is essentially about seamless communication among a group of sensors installed on the relevant machines. These sensor units constantly share data with a central unit to allow for better monitoring. Insights emerging from this data can be accessed by the plant management over simplified interfaces on mobile apps. This will allow for more consistent and a better-controlled flow of all the material required for the Potting process. The tanks can be continuously monitored to ensure they are full and can be proactively topped up as the need arises. Potting requires maintaining the correct ratio of epoxy and adhesives over the mixing and dispensing process. The IoT-led sensors can help track the ratio, temperature, and viscosity at all times and inform of any deviations early on.
Automation can control the process to allow for action to be taken in case anything goes wrong. Errors are identified early, this promotes greater efficiency and higher-quality potting.
Improved analytics is a natural byproduct of such automated process control. The vast amount of data captured by the sensors enables complete traceability and allows correlation with other parameters like price, This, in turn, opens up possibilities for improvement in cycle times or achieving expected quality.
The real-time monitoring of the production line with IoT helps ensure greater productivity and a more consistent output. It is a generally accepted fact that production numbers vary across shifts. It is not unusual to have a
situation wherein an effort to make up for the poor productivity in some shifts, other shifts are forced to do more or to cut corners to up their own production. Over time, such imbalances can hurt overall morale and profitability. In such situations, keeping track of production in real-time can help plant management take action
early and correct any anomalies. The IoT-led solutions can help provide continuous insights into raw material consumption, energy utilization, production line health, and overall production. Early action will ensure that there will be no room for compromising the quality of process followed or in the end-product obtained.
The pumps that are used in the potting and encapsulation process are delicate -and expensive. While there are generally accepted standards of when and how these pumps must be serviced, cleaned, and maintained, it is always
possible that issues may crop up over the course of production. During the potting process, there is a tendency of resins getting dry and hard, this could interfere with the flow, cause blockages, and create a pressure reduction in the pump. Sensors can help track the build-up of such issues and can also track the wear and tear and other vital parameters of sensitive equipment to provide alarms and insights into the need for such proactive maintenance. Taking proactive action to avoid such a situation building up will help increase the life of the pump. Also, preventive action taken early will probably take less time than repairs that may be required to post the occurrence of problems.
The requirements of manufacturing companies are changing. They now have access to products and solutions with innovative functionalities across the entire manufacturing operation. And with these changing customer needs, the expectation from automation and its capabilities are also changing. As technology evolves and matures, forward-looking businesses are now looking to connect machines through the power of the Internet of Things. They are looking to further improve the efficiency of their processes. They expect this to become easier for them and are demanding controls on their mobiles, real-time information and monitoring, better reporting, and more insights.
In the four walls of the factory, processes are categorized as automated, semi-automated, and non-automated. The goal is to upgrade the factory by integrating the three categories. When it comes to Potting applications, Twin Engineers has successfully laid the foundation for that integration with Automation -with the coming of the Internet of Things, it may be time for the next step into the future.
Twin Engineers is known for its expertise in Meter Mix Dispensing, Oil Filling, and Robotic Sealant Dispensing. The company has over two decades of expertise in automating a range of mixing and dispensing processes, one of which is Potting.
Twin’s machines have been used to automate 100+ niche and proven potting applications in various industry verticals from transformers to auto parts and temperature sensors to capacitors.
Consider our experience of developing a fully integrated plant for one of the world’s leading Japanese auto-electronic part manufacturer. The client was not just able to automate the electronic potting process with enhanced efficiency and throughput, but could do so with a complete control on the quality and safety. Twin has also been a major provider of process automation solutions for global automobile manufacturers such as Harley Davidson, Toyota, Volvo, and Honda.
Here are the notable benefits of automation the potting processes where Twin’s technology can help to create a competitive edge for you-
Optimized – Tapping opportunities to reduce cycle time where there were none
From dual potting heads to integrating pre-heating and potting stations on a single Machine, Twin has offered several innovative automation solutions to significantly reduce the cycle time of the process. In a machine that was supplied recently to a large transformer manufacturer based in Turkey, Twin was able reduce the cycle time by 20% as compared to the German machines which the customer was already using. This was achieved by optimising the size of the vacuum chamber to accommodate double the number of components and thus effectively reduce the time required to create and kill the vacuum by almost 50%.
Seamless – towards lean production lines
Twin’s fully automated potting lines are well proven in simplifying the potting process as a whole. The entire process of pre-heating with curing is accomplished in a sequential manner to ensure less processing time and desired quality. Clients have earned dividends in multiple ways from space and cost savings due to optimised layouts, seamless production flow without manual intervention and an accurate control over the entire production process, including potting.
Consistent – improved quality and control
In an extremely competitive environment, the quality of the product can become a significant competitive advantage. Be it the high-volume assembly operations like creating small automotive sensors or the potting process of motor windings installed in submersible pumps. Automation of tasks like potting will help in maintaining a consistently high quality as this allows greater control over dispensing conditions like temperature, mixing ratio, and dispensing volume.
Flexibility – The key to modern-day success
Driven by processes that have proven successful internationally, globalised production centres, and shorter product life-cycles, manufacturing companies are seeking more flexibility. To go-to-market faster and address the needs of their demanding customers, they need to be able to change layouts, materials, and even key processes like potting.
These changes should be easy to make and should be inexpensive, so they don’t make a dent on investment budgets. This is where Twin’s designs have been making a mark. Our solutions for automating potting are modular. They allow fast, easy, and economical adoption. This allows manufacturing companies to automate their potting tasks quicker and get the benefits faster.
The next wave of automation is already knocking on the doors of the manufacturing industry. The Internet of Things has brought with it sensors that can provide much more intense and real-time monitoring of every phase of the production process. This will allow the triggering of better predictions of downtimes promoting better quality and faster production. But, that’s the subject of another blog -so do stay tuned!
Twin Engineers is a 25-year old Indian supplier, manufacturer, and exporter of some innovative equipment that addresses key industry segments like Automotive, Electrical and Electronics, Composites, Packaging and PU Products. The organization offers its best-in-class products in Meter Mmix Dispensing, Single-Component Dispensers, Robotic sealant dispensers, Oil and Fluid filling, and Adhesive Dispensers. The company has a reputed global clientele in its years of service with clients including much of India’s Automotive sector Tata Motors, Ford, Suzuki,Honda, Volvo, etc.
Back in 2008, the Indian automotive parts market was estimated to be nearly US $26B. The nation has continued experiencing persistent growth in the sector for a decade after that too. Around that time, an automobile filter manufacturer from Delhi had connected with us for its aftermarket products. The dealer wanted to introduce a process strong-enough to increase manufacturing efficiency tenfold so they could make a real impact in the growing Automotive business.
How we confronted this challenge
The automotive parts dealer was looking to manufacture filters with a semi-automated machine capable of PU Foam dispensing. But it was not easy to convince them to adopt our solution. Filter prices were subject to intense competition and labour was cheap -not a situation conducive to large budgets. We faced rejection on our first quote but with persistence, several meetings, and visits to the factory, we helped define a new understanding of the value of automating the meter mix dispensing process for the customer.
The solution suggested by Twin Engineers
Based on our understanding the market demand and growth opportunities for the business, Twin’s team suggested to the customer to think big. We recommended that they drop the idea for a basic machine and, instead, we suggested that they go in for a fully-automated dispensing system.
The new proposal did not get a positive response for months. The Sales team continued discussions and spent more time to grasp the customer’s concern. The customer was concerned about support and we instilled the confidence that we would support them till the machine proved itself on the production line. With the risk of failure now greatly reduced the customer decided to go ahead.
The first machine for the company went operational in about 3 months. Our team was actively involved in training the unskilled operators at the company to ensure proper quality and throughput. Handholding by Twin’s team ensured a confident Operator and Production staff that felt ready to take-off with their new Machine.
The next step
One year down the line the Machine had paid itself off. The customer got back to us, this time with lots of ideas to further advance thed automation and features in the Machines.
We were only happy to oblige. The second machine went operational .. then the third and the journey has continued over the past decade. The client’s business expanded, profits increased, and capacities increased. This helped to transform the company into a leading brand in aftermarket filters in the extremely competitive North Indian territory.
Last year, the customer invited us to help assess their expansion plan. With help from Twin’s innovative machines, the Client’s operations have always been among the most profitable in the industry. In a wonderful moment, the founder of the company thanked our team while proudly mentioning that he had bought his first Mercedes recently.
“Automation is a prerequisite for quality-controlled and efficient manufacturing!”
Automation, once it became the cornerstone of manufacturing, has the potential to make a significant contribution to the expansion plans of small and medium-sized companies. Further, automation brings several advantages such as increased production rate without any compromise on the quality, economical and efficient use of raw materials at every stage of production, and enhanced safety procedures.
Traditionally, small and medium enterprises have been held back from their Automation plans through fear of making a sizeable investment. However, as this story shows, taking the plunge in a planned manner can help recoup the investment with time. In that quest, innovative manufacturers such as Twin Engineers who have helped more than 250 small and medium entrepreneurs, can help prove that automation is not a luxury -in fact, it could help these businesses get a little bit of luxury (like a Mercedes) into their lives.
Electric Vehicles are disruptive in more ways than we think. It’s not just the change of fuel, but a re-engineering of an entire value chain. From a mixing and dispensing technology view, adhesives will replace the traditional welded and riveted parts in the electric vehicles. At the same time, there is a demand for serving several new applications such as sealing in batteries, specialised dispensing in rotor motors, adhesive dispensing in composite or new age materials and much more.
For the last few years, Twin Engineers has enabled several applications for the Electric Vehicles using cutting-edge solutions.
Dispensing technology for the heart of EVs
Magnets form the heart of the motors in Electric Vehicles. Recently, the team at Twin Engineers developed an Epoxy dispensing Machine for sealing a set of magnets in the rotor of EV motor.
Void-free sealing with under vacuum dispensing
The job involved dispensing of 2 Part Epoxy (shot size of 150 gm) inside the cavity of the rotor holding the magnets. The sealing operation prevents the magnets from displacement under the rotational forces inside the motor. Accurate filling of quantity, mixing ratio accuracy are highly critical to ensuring the proper functioning of the EV motor. The material was dispensed under vacuum to ensure void-free sealing of multiple magnets through the deep cavity inside the rotor.
Meeting the specific needs of the process
Twin’s team designed the dispensing set-up by a careful consideration of the smallest details expected to be at play in the application. Starting from the selection of materials in the machine to programming the dispensing path, everything was designed to meet the highly specific needs of the process.
Charged for a high-speed production
Twin’s team helped the customer to achieve the desired cycle time, thus ensuring a high-speed production for a critical process. The Machine, build on Twin’s Intellomix platform comes with important interlocks for process parameters to ensure absolutely no deviation in end product quality.
Twin has been a partner to develop mixing and dispensing technology to some of the largest OEMs and Suppliers of Electric Vehicles in India. If you are looking for an expert partner in developing parts or components for Electric Vehicles that use sealants or adhesives, speak to one of Twin’s representatives to explore new possibilities.
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