Linear or Rotary - Automation Insights

Video Transcript

0:41

Welcome everybody to our last, and final, session here at our Automate Show. This is a live session. I want to make sure that our attendees are aware that you could ask questions during this session, and we'll do our best with the panel to answer these as they come up. Our topic for today is linear and rotary positioning, and essentially, what is the best way for your application.

1:01

My name is Luke Kiezel. I'm the Western District Sales Manager for Destaco. Our panel of people that are going to be attending our discussion here include - Ravi Shivanna, Global New Product Development for Engineering for Destaco chemical products. Ray Tynczuk, Applications Engineer and Manager for the Destaco Chemical Products. We've got Jay Goldberg, VP of Sales. And Tom Duffy will join us here shortly. First question I want to ask the guys here. In this wonderful world of automation, is there a shift in the industry that we're seeing? Is one maybe more favorable than the other? Do customers see the linear or rotary to be the best way of approaching an automation system? Jay, what do you think? Well, I think if you had asked that five years ago, I'm seeing right now, I'd say a 50/50 split - with rotary versus linear.

2:01

Especially when you're talking about bigger applications. A lot of it has to do with where a customer is going to fit this into their factory, how they want the operators to interact or not interact with the machine. I would say I don't know that I'm seeing, well I guess, it would be a shift. Yeah - I think it was rotary for a long time, but linear has really come on strong, and I'd say it's about a 50/50 split now for these larger applications. Yeah, I think years ago, rotary indexing was all the rage but, as people started seeing the benefits. Not only is it a better use of floor space, arranging some rectangles basically, you could also fit a lot more stations on any one given machine.

3:01

So there's almost no limit to how many stations you could put around a linear conveyor, as opposed to trying to fit a large number of stations in a circle, so there's definitely been a large jump in the number of conveyors that we're seeing. Actually - do you mind if I jump onto something that Ray hinted at there? I'd like to add to that. One of the things that I've seen our customers doing, especially with the conveyor systems, is they will tool-up three different stations, up to maybe two to three different stations, to do similar products, but just different enough that they would have to come-in and change all their tooling if they did that.

4:01

And what they do is they just index to the station that they want, and then the conveyor goes, so instead of having a rotary where you've got your fixed stations, and if you need to change something out, that's a mechanic coming in - they can actually just add stations to a linear using a servo. Go to the station that they want, and then skip the stations they don't need, and that is offered quite a bit of flexibility actually. You bring up a great point there, Jay. I think with maybe the industry shifting a bit, the term “flexible indexing” comes to-mind. Can you guys talk about some of the advantages versus mechanical versus servo? Is that kind of obviously? Pertains to what you're just saying.

5:01

So mechanical, I would say the greatest advantages of mechanical is just its repeatability, and the accuracy. I think you guys talked about that earlier in the day. But - it's just going to run its entire lifespan, however many years, 20-30 years - it's going to do the same thing over and over. It's going to hit the same stops over and over, and that's perfect for a line that is never intended to change. It's with very minimal maintenance. It's going to run for a long time, and I'd say those are the significant advantages of a mechanical system. We are also talking servo systems. Now we're getting a lot of customers asking to put servos on these, and servo gives you more flexibility. It's a little bit more difficult in the programming realm.

6:00

It's not just running an AC motor, like a mechanical system, so it does require somebody to actually program it and understand how they're doing that. But, it does give you that flexibility. Going back to what I talked about, when you have three stations just within the program. You just select. It's going to be the first station or the second station or the third station, and then it just runs. That is not something that is easily accomplished with a mechanical system, so we would like to look at each individual application as they come up. The sales people are the first line of defense. We go out and talk about all of the things we've already talked about. What's the space? What's the best use of this? How fast do you need to go? What does your stuff weigh? Almost all of us then bring Ray in and start discussing the application from a very detailed technical standpoint, so it really just comes down to - we take every single application.

7:01

We don't try to make any assumptions as to what would be best until we hear everything that they want to do, and sometimes it turns-out that the mechanical system, that's got stops built right into the cam, is perfect for the application. And other times, it turns-out that servo would be the best. Ray, any thoughts? Yeah - the first one, when servos first came-out, they became popular really quickly, and everybody was jumping on the servo bandwagon. But then they started seeing the complexity and the cost associated with it, and there's been a little bit of resurgence of going back to mechanical fully, mechanical systems - and in many of our applications, they don't have variable strokes and they just repeat the same output over and over again.

8:01

So mechanical system still work, and we can even still drive a mechanical system with a servo motor if they just want. Speed feedback or process feedback. That’s kind of what we're seeing also. Now too, a lot of are using our fixed stop indexers. The rigidity - you don't necessarily have to have the same inertia matching as you do with a with a full servo system, because your mechanical part of your cam is taking care of that. You just need to control speed. So we are seeing, in some of our machine builders, there are some out where that's all they make - is mechanically fully, mechanically tight systems. Where they say, “when we set something up, we want to fire it up and just forget about it, we don't want to hear anything else about it.”

9:00

And they work very well, and I know Jay, you've got customers, machine builders - that's their mantra absolutely. It's the cliche of the person, out in the middle of nowhere, that's got a little thing filling cartons and they don't want to have anybody who knows anything about servo programming and they want to just turn the motor on and let it run. And then, you've got the people that have full maintenance departments and full engineering departments. The servo system might serve a little bit better, so again, it all comes down to working with the customer - from start to finish. What is the best? We come to that conclusion all together. What's the best? Yeah - it seems like there's a fitting form for every customer, and it all depends on their comfort level, the complexity they wanted to go with, and and how tech savvy they might get.

10:00

Now - when we look at linear versus rotary, Ray did mention that floor space sometimes is something that should be at-least something that the customers are thinking of. Is there one, or a better method, of doing things? Is having maybe multiple indexing devices, versus having one linear form, is that a better form or is it more application-driven? How does that work? Well - if you've got a lot of stations in your process, and say it would take several rotary indexers to accomplish all the processes, you would have to hand-off from one to the other to accomplish these tasks. Whereas a linear index or a conveyor, will there be far fewer handoffs? Then you can accomplish the same thing with just setting up all the stations around the perimeter of the conveyor.

11:01

When we look at floor spacing in forms of doing linear versus rotary, we have a question that just came in. Maybe Jay, you could help me answer this - do machine builders favor one over the other system on an OEM level, and also on an end user level? Is there a preference? Possibly - I'm seeing a question that came-in about the little floor space. It really comes down to what you have for floor space. A ring drive does what it does very well, because you can mount stuff on the inside of it - coming to the outside. And that actually saves a lot of space, but it still is circular, so you have to have space for that. You have to, if you're going to have operators interacting with it. They have to have enough space around that unit to be able.

12:01

And most of our ring drives are fairly large so they do take up a good diameter of space, within a good area of space. When we're starting to talk about a lot of stations, that linear really starts to come into its own, because it can be thin, but long. You can get operators into it very easily. You can expand it as long. One thing you can't do with a ring drive, is expanding if you need to, but we can we can have a conveyor anywhere from three feet up-to, well, the most I've seen personally - is about 15 feet. But I know we go beyond that. I know we do, but that was because of the amount of stations.

13:02

And if that took up a 15 foot by about three feet wide, whereas if we had to do all of those stations with rotary - it would have been a very large proposition. So linear starts to be, as you start talking with customers, about what they want to do. The answer does kind of present itself; kind of self-explanatory, as we start talking about how many stations you've got and where do you want to put them. It just kind of coalesces and eventually it just makes sense, whichever direction we go just kind of makes sense. Ray - when we talk about work environments, there is a question that came-in from our group here. Do work environments affect the performance of one versus the other? Let's say, if it's a dusty environment, gritty environment - do we tend to lean customers one way versus the other or can maybe both systems act and perform the same way? Can you maybe speak about that?

14:01

Yeah - in the nasty environments, it's probably easier to prepare and shield a rotary indexer than it would be a linear indexer. The conveyors have open track designs and they're much more difficult to seal-up than it would be a closed indexer. We could use double seals or put shielding around it. You won't affect access to the part that's indexing. There are some things we can do to protect some of that, but I think in-general, the rotary indexers would be easier to protect in the bad environments. I agree. It's a sealed system that obviously don't have any grit coming inside of an indexing device. There's ways that you could definitely shield it. Typically it's a dial application, so you have a fairly large dial that you're putting on top of the rotary or indexing device.

15:02

So obviously - that's another form of protection. Jay, were you about to say something there? Well, I wanted to offer a real world example, if I could. I got to be careful. I don't want to give away any secrets, but we have a customer that makes disposable toothbrushes for the hospital industry, and part of that process is putting the grit on there that turns into what you brush teeth with. It's extremely caustic, it's very gritty, it gets everywhere. We're using conveyors there. I have seen our conveyors packed with that stuff. It's just white powder that you could sand something with, and they're still cruising along and they do is try to blow it out every once in awhile. But I've been over there and seen it packed with that grit, and it's still going along so it's a good.

16:00

It's a good question. What you have, it is something we want to take into account. But we have examples of this stuff being in some very heavy industries, and it's doing just fine. You can do things using air pressure vacuums, that kind of thing, and sometimes the orientation of the conveyor, “over and under” as we call it, our carousel can be treated differently as well. One thing, and I don't know, Luke, if I'm jumping ahead to something you wanted to mention - but since we've already been talking about servos and the linear, I wanted to give another real world example of how fast we can move these things. If everybody could picture a 15 foot long conveyor with about 12 inch links.

17:00

So we're going to index 12 inches with a servo system, every single link. So I should have done this math, but 15 feet divided by 12 every single link, was about 13 pounds. At about 13 pounds on it, so quite a bit of weight. We were able to do that 12 inch index, from dead-stop to dead-stop, in 0.29 seconds. It's pretty impressive, which I find mind-blowing, that we can move that quickly with a piece of mechanical, moving that much weight, that much inertia - and just do it 24/7 over and over. That's such a fast rate. That's where I really got my appreciation of what our conveyors can do. Before we move forward to one of the other questions, I think we have one question which we actually skipped.

18:00

It says, “what works best with the little floor space?” I think to answer that question, it could be either our indexers the regular indexers - which can actually work with the little floor space for sure. The floor space is relative. If it is very small, we can also design a small conveyor, which is very small center distance, and we can also have the precision link conveyor working in that floor space. So the best answer to that is - indexers and precision link conveyors can both work in a little floor space. We need to understand what that little floor space is. Correct - now if we could step back a little bit into history, Camco, brand name, I always like to say it's the staple in the industry. It's almost as comparing Kleenex to tissues.

19:01

Whenever I visit customers, that's the first thing they say, “I want to put a Camco in.” And the first thing that comes to mind for us, we know what that means. They want to put an indexing device in there somehow, or I've got this cubicle that's working for 20 years. I need a little bit of help maybe changing the oil first thing tonight. It's an indexing device, but over the years, Ravi maybe could speak to this, has Camco traditionally been known for indexers or known for conveying systems? Has that maybe changed over the years? How do we start-off into that transition? I think traditionally, when this Camco started, it was mostly about very prominently building mechanical indexers and slowly it started building in servo-operated indexers. Very lately, in maybe the early 90s, we started manufacturing about this precision link conveyors.

20:00

So more probably today, both mechanical indexers, I would say, three of them - the mechanical indexers the servo indexers and the precision link conveyors, all of them, stand in the same place in the market. Wherein - they look for solutions with Camco and Destaco for any of these turnkey solutions. Not only that, Destaco is one of the major indexer or precision link manufacturer companies, wherein we actually build-up the packaging solutions to the customer, where we offer the indexer motor and also the drive package to actually run this indexer, as one-stop solution. So this could be an asynchronous motor with the drive package or a DC motor with a drive package or even our servo motor - along with the drive packages, which is supposed to actually drive these indexers and also conveyors.

21:00

One of the other important drives, by itself, are called “rotary conveyors” wherein you can do a lot of space saving just by having one of the ring drive and having the robot placed in-between the space available in the ring drive, and work inside-out rather than working outside-in with space. Which saves a lot of space for the customers. I would say the ring drive is the rotary equivalent of a linear conveyor. When you're talking about our other rotary devices, I think those stand on their own, but the ring drive - the way it's laid out, and the way people interact with it, I look at that as a rotary version of a linear. Right, quick question - on your side, when we come to the discussion of maybe accuracy between rotary indexing versus linear indexing, is there a difference between both of those?

22:01

Can you maybe elaborate a little bit on that? Yeah - both are our precision devices. Our conveyors are traditionally run by rotary indexers, so its accuracy depends on the rotary indexer’s accuracy. Both offer precision, so obviously, if you're going to drive a conveyor - which has its own inherent accuracy, with a with a rotary device, it isn't going to be as accurate. But still, our linear conveyors, our standard accuracy is like plus or minus 5,000th of an inch at any station. And many times, even better than that, so it is definitely not an imprecise device.

23:02

So I wouldn't say that. I would have to consider one over the other, strictly from an accuracy perspective. I guess where I was going there, our conveyors are traditionally driven by the same index drives that we manufacture for rotary indexing applications. So like you said, the precision is typically machined into our devices. Now, if we go into servos, and in those forms obviously, we use more of a technological approach to put in the accuracy in there. I just want to remind everybody in attendance that we do have a poll question that's going to be coming your way. Please chime-in and then get us your feedback. I appreciate that. Ray - if you could talk a little bit about, over the course of the few years, how did the industry, in your eyes, it's changing a little bit.

24:02

Are they going traditionally towards rotary indexing or conveying? Have we seen an increase in one or the other? Definitely. Years ago, like you have mentioned, people referred to Camco. They were referring to a rotary indexer. We've had conveyors, a conveyor product, for just as long. So then I'd say, within the last five to ten years, there's a very significant spike in linear applications. And I think it's a combination of floor space, or ergonomics, but also process engineers and machine builders are trying to optimize their processes. So fewer handoffs, more stations, in under one device. So yeah, linear indexing has definitely boomed over the last five to ten years.

25:01

Next question that we want to maybe hit, or a topic here, is there a life expectancy? What's the longevity of one form versus the other - conveying versus rotary indexing? Is there a certain lifespan of one or the other? Jay - can you hit on that maybe? As far as I can tell, they both last a really long time. When we're sitting down to do the engineering study, we want to make sure that these are oversized. That's one of the things we do. So the reason we want to make sure that it lasts for a long time is that we realize that we are buried in the heart of a machine. A conveyor, if there were to be problems with a conveyor, it's very difficult to get it out.

26:00

To get in there to maintain it, or to get it out, so it needs to be built like a tank and it needs to last a long time with just basic maintenance. Same thing for a rotary indexer. Usually - you almost can't even see it. It's buried within the heart of the machine so much, so I've been with Camco for about eight years now and I've been out in the field and seen devices 30 years old - that if they change the oil, maybe every once in a while, they'll do that, but it's still cranking along and still running along. So I would say, both of them are built with an eye toward longevity, because we do realize where we are in a customer's machine, and what it does should there be a problem.

27:00

Yeah - it has to be sized conservatively for all the reasons that Jay said, and we take that approach from an applications perspective. We push really hard for as much detail as you can give us with the load and the application. And even if we're at a ballparking stage, we stress very much to come back when you've got your design finalized. We do have to size conservatively for those reasons. We do not want to have to have a customer tear apart his entire machine just to pull out the indexer from the center of it. I'd say, the only time we redlined everything was that application I referred to earlier where it was 0.29 seconds. The only way to get that was to just go for it, so normally we'd have a lot more room in there.

28:01

We were pushing the limits of what we can do on a conveyor, but most of the time, it's an oversized application. And I think when it comes to accessibility to the machine itself, both of you guys mentioned that we're in the heart of the machine. I've heard that term many times and you tend not to want to do any surgery on a heart if you don't have. But I think when it comes to maybe retooling or repurposing something at times, I think the linear form is a little bit easier to do. I mean, you do have the link chain itself. Maybe the fixtures are a little bit more accessible. Jay, as you mentioned, we've even personally seen things that are embedded in the machine that you barely see the indexing device even moving. So you guys have great points there. I want to remind everybody that are part of the call, if you could please submit any questions that you may have, I'll do my best to put those into our discussions.

29:02

So I just want to make sure you guys are staying involved and appreciate your assistance. There’s another topic or question that we want to maybe hit-on is, what are the ranges of capacities and sizes of our conveyors in indexers? Jay mentioned that there are sizes that he's been working on that are 15 feet long, but are those our limitations? Ravi, can you maybe touch that on that? Sure. So with respect to indexers, we offer a wide range of sizes of indexers and also on the conveyors. If you talk about, or want to name a few of the indexers which we are offering today - it could be miniature roller gears which has a capacity of 86 newton meters to 2085 newton meters.

30:03

And we have some parallels about four sizes and right angles of three sizes which actually drive these conveyors. We have the roller dial mechanical indexer which is about six sizes and heavy duty sizes and other heavy duty e-series indexers. We have a range of indexers which can serve for various requirements of the customer needs, ranging from very small torque requirement, or the axial load capacity, to very large axial load - or the moment load capacity, which can go into automotive world. What is more important also is the accuracy part of it. We also serve, from the largest indexer, we could be somewhere at the plus or minus eight arc seconds to smaller indexers, which could be around plus or minus 60 seconds. So a wide variety of indexers that is being offered to the customers with the wide range of accuracy requirements.

31:01

We also offer special accuracy needs. We also meet special accuracy needs for all the customer requirements. One of the other important things, which also I want to make sure we add to this discussion is, Camco is one of the global leaders in manufacturing any of the custom motion. That is custom cams also. It is a two-dimensional or a three-dimensional, so we cater to a large variety of requirements for these custom cams that is required in the industry. We do actively work with our customers to develop custom profiles, custom motion profiles in the industry. So coming back to the range of capacities, with respect to conveyors, I think we limit the precision link conveyor, modular conveyors link to be loaded at the max, which would go for link load - would be around 25 pounds and the center distance.

32:00

It can stand and start anywhere between 52 inches or even a little smaller, or we can go up to around 300 plus inches, so typically we would limit the length of the conveyors to around 30 feet. And above that, we want to offer the tubular conveyors up to 40 feet, and that's kind of small, and the larger ranges which you can offer with conveyors. We can also work with heavy-duty conveyors which can handle very different, or high, capacity loads that is required for the customers. With respect to any of the heavy-duty indexing or conveying that is supposed to be done right, any thoughts on that? Yeah - there was. That was a great summary there, Ravi. I think in-general, the rotary indexers probably can cover a much larger range of loads.

33:00

From the lightest weights, to ounces, or a couple pounds to thousands of pounds. A centralized load and also station weights. But conveyors, once we start getting like the 25 or higher pound range, we start taking a much closer look at how fast you want to index these things. How far off the face of the link the center of gravity is, and those kind of things. Yeah - I think in-general, the rotary indexes have a much greater range, especially when you start getting way up-high in the weights. Like I said, thousands of pounds, hundreds of pounds, that we've got a very large product range that we could cover just about anything. Jay, can you maybe talk about some examples of conveyor systems?

34:01

I know you brought-up that one. Any others that come to mind? Things you've worked on in the recent past here. Anything like that? Well the fastest one I did is the one I mentioned. That one was really cruising. I can't say what that product was, due to secrecy, but we have also put together manual transmissions for cars using linear. We are inserting needles into syringes in certain applications. So going back to what Ray was talking about, about accuracy, if we can we can get a needle in the same spot every single time, to put it where it needs to go, but we've got really good accuracy on that boy. Lots of food. We have big conveyors in Nestle which makes the instant coffee.

35:01

That actually is going back to the grit question. That is the stickiest stuff I've ever come across. You go in there for about 15 minutes, you come out, your eyes are sticking together, and we had to play around with that a little bit. But our conveyor is still making it through that stuff so good. Now we’re into basically any industry. Luke, these would fit into anywhere. Understand now, when we look at the recent past year, I've ran into applications where traditionally indexing devices, or conveying systems, you would think that it would be more of a dedicated system. With the industry changing, people want to automate not only the high volume items, but they're also wanting to automate the lower volume items.

36:01

And I think this is where flexible indexing comes into play. I know that we're going to have a discussion about this tomorrow at our last session as well, but I just want to hit a little bit on that. Jay, do we see customers using that to our advantage, or maybe utilizing a linear form and putting every other link, a different product - so they could use the same system, but running it with a servo motor? Pretty much. Obviously, utilize that same machine with multiple products, versus a dedicated automation. Yes, in-fact that's a real world example where we have a customer that has three different tools in a line, and then they just they keep repeating that.

37:00

I think it's about, rather than retooling for the new part that they want to run, they just use a servo and say, “Okay - we're going to run part number two today.” So before it starts to move, it moves into position, where it will be now every time it does its index. It'll come up to the second one of those in the line. They want to go to number one. They do the same thing and that is what a servo, that's the flexibility, that a servo allows you to do. It allows half moves. It can always go backwards, back and forth, whatever you want to do. It also allows you to repurpose if you get a four-stop indexer. You've got a four-stop indexer, if you want to repurpose that for six stops, that's not an easy proposition.

38:03

You can do that with a servo. It's very easy to repurpose. Now how many people repurpose, because these things are usually, again, they're built to last? So they're customers that are putting this into a line that they're, I would just say, I don't know how often people repurpose - but a servo system makes it easier to do that. With our offering, with both rotary indexing and linear forms, it looks like it's a wide range of products that we definitely provide and then we hit a lot of application needs, variety of stuff it sounds like. Live applications, that Jay was talking about, there is when we look at one versus the other. I, personally, can't say one's favorable versus the other.

39:02

It really is a customer-specific application. There's a lot of things to consider. We started to talk about the servo stuff, but when it comes to conveyors, Ravi, I think we do offer a standard product, but we also could cater specifically to customers needs. We have done a few special conveyors that covered unique applications from having the suitcase link. It was a very large link to a conveyor that had a hump. Maybe Ravi and Ray, can you guys talk about that a little bit? What are the other specialty things that we could bring to the table here? Yeah I would actually start with it now. First thing is we actually, as a global company, want to make sure we reach-out to the all the global customers. With respect to the precision link conveyors and also the indexers, with the Destaco Camco, so we offer both imperial and also the metric versions of these.

40:00

Positioning conveyors, which actually is very important for the customers, to actually mount their tooling and meet their standards in their factory with other equipment that is being operating in them, in the floor space. So there are special conveyors, as you know, actually mentioned about. We actually designed many of the special conveyors, which can get into various custom manufacturing parts for any of the recreational purposes. The one thing we should talk about is, for all of the pharma industry, we are trying to manufacture certain heavy-duty conveyors which actually can get into the measurement and characteristics.

41:01

So those kind of conveyors we actually built, we also cater to the needs of industrial conveyors when it gets into the manufacturing of pistons or a few other things. So I think in a wide variety, we actually got into the majority of the needs and the positioning. Ray, would you like to add anything on this position? Yeah - I do. Remember - the bottom line is, we're not afraid to look at any custom solution. If there's something that you don't see in our portfolio, we welcome specials, and we'll consider any kind of special. We were approached one time about a manufacturer of razor blades.

42:00

What's so complicated about a razor blade? But if you look at how tiny those little parts are, it has to be very precise, and they wanted to leapfrog ahead of the competition and bump-up the cycle rate, too. So we were able to come-up with a solution that increased our accuracy by a factor of 10, and it was an entire mechanical system driven by a servo motor. It worked very well. We've done other things. The first servo-driven conveyor that we made is now a fairly standard offering now. The bottom-line is, we're not afraid to do specials and we have done several, like I said, rotary versus linear.

43:01

Once again - it's more up to the application, more of the customer's preference. We see a fit and form for both. We're not afraid to touch and do creative things with both those versions.

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