Special Reports

Staying in control

By Lisa Rummler

November/December 2009- After a long day at work and a commute home to match, one of the sweetest sounds a person can hear is the creaking and grinding of a rising garage door. Although not exactly music to one’s ears, this sound does mean a person is just a minute or two away from bidding adieu to the car and saying hello to home.

In addition to this symbolic gatekeeping function, garage doors also play a practical role: helping protect vehicles from the elements, thieves and stray baseballs.

Accordingly, garage doors require strength and durability, and a lot goes into making them. This is something Overhead Door Corp., Lewisville, Texas, knows well.

A manufacturer of integrated door and operator systems for commercial, industrial and residential applications, Overhead Door was founded by C. G. Johnson, the inventor of the upward-lifting garage door and the electric door opener.

At its Kentucky division, the company produces hardware for garage doors, making products such as hinges, top fixtures, bottom fixtures and door stiles.

"We’re basically a metal stamping plant," says Robert Belser, tooling manger at the Kentucky division of Overhead Door. "We have six large automatic presses that run from 150 tons to 300 tons. And then we have about 12 single-stroke presses [on which] we run our lower-volume parts and secondary operations for parts that run off of the automatics."

Belser and his crew run mainly galvanized and painted material through the dies in their shop, sometimes working with aluminum.

List of priorities
Overhead Door strives to have the highest level of safety for all of its equipment, and a key component for doing so in regard to its single-stroke presses is the Press Pilot 150 clutch/brake controller from Toledo Integrated Systems, Holland, Ohio.

"In checking on some of the OSHA regulations, we found out that the controls on our presses, even some of our newest ones, weren’t OSHA-compliant," says Belser. "So we checked into that to find out what we had to do to upgrade them."

In January, Overhead Door bought its first Press Pilot 150 and has since bought several more. Belser says the company’s goal is to buy about one a month until each of its single-stroke presses has one.

"Right now, we have to load [a part] with magnets or tongs or some other type of tool because unless you have the control reliability, the operators can’t put their hands into the pinch point of the die," he says. "These allow us to do that. Of course, that makes people a lot more productive, [being able] to use their own hands instead of some kind of tool."

In addition to the increased efficiency and productivity the Press Pilot 150 controllers have brought, they’ve yielded unexpected benefits, according to Belser.

"They’re good controls," he says. "One thing they do is that if you have any problems with your press brake or clutch or [anything] like that, these controls will identify it and help you. They also help you with the maintenance programs. That’s been a plus to us and something we didn’t realize we were going to get."

It’s in the details
The Press Pilot 150 is an upgraded version of the Press Pilot 100. At about 8 in. wide, 10 in. tall and 6 in. deep, it’s half the size of its predecessor--but it offers more features.

"The control is standard with a time-based brake monitor that measures the stopping time of every stop and warns the customer if an allowable time has been exceeded," says John Eby, product manager and controls systems sales engineer at Toledo Integrated Systems. "Other features include a dual processor; a resolver-based, dual-channel ‘monitored’ E-stop circuit; fault history; inputs for up to four operator stations; automatic single-stroke mode; ‘continuous on demand’ mode; and built-in counters and I/O status diagnostics."

Other options for the Press Pilot 150 include Ethernet communication, light curtain "mute on upstroke" and a remote display.

The controller can be a stand-alone product, or it can be integrated with an automation package for a total press control. This flexibility is a boon to both end users and OEMs, according to Eby.

Keeping up productivity
Accordingly, the Press Pilot 150 offers advantages that are distinct to each set of customers, although both end users and OEMs ultimately benefit from a reliable press control, says Eby.

"Most end users are typically looking to update the existing press controls because they don’t meet the current safety requirements," he says. "The unseen benefit is that it usually can take less time to install the new control than to troubleshoot the wiring mess of the original control.

"The OEM benefits from this control because from day one, it was designed with the OEM, or integrator, in mind. One specific [advantage] is that the Press Pilot 150 allows the resolver signal to be shared with other devices or PLCs. That means less hardware to buy and maintain."

Additionally, OEMs can use their PLC to communicate with the Press Pilot 150 and share all information so that only one operator screen is used.

"This keeps the control ‘clean’ and user-friendly," says Eby.

The Press Pilot 150 also decreases downtime for end users because it cuts down on the troubleshooting required for older systems.

"Productivity is also increased due to the amount of information that’s available to the operator," says Eby. "When the Press Pilot 150 experiences a fault, a message explains specifically what the problem is. This reduces the amount of time the operator or maintenance [personnel] spends on ‘fixing’ the problem."

OEMs also experience a higher level of productivity, in no small part because their design time decreases.

"Toledo Integrated Systems will provide the Press Pilot 150 electrical schematics in AutoCAD so that they won’t have to redraw them into their drawing package," says Eby.

Tailored training
Customers determine the nature and amount of training they receive on the Press Pilot 150, according to Eby. Some come to Toledo Integrated Systems’ facility, and others ask that the company come to them.

"We do both ‘desk time’ and hands-on time," he says. "We have simulators here that we’re actually able to run the product on, and they can get a feel for what it’s going to look like even before they have it installed on their machine."

Belser says the Kentucky division of Overhead Door opted to receive on-site training, primarily geared toward an individual maintenance tech.

"He’s been able to troubleshoot any problems we’ve had and address any issues the production department has had with setting up the control and telling them how it works," he says. "We received very good instructions." FFJ

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  • Overhead Door Corp.
    Lewisville, Texas
    phone: 800/275-3290

  • Toledo Integrated Systems
    Holland, Ohio
    phone: 419/724-4170
    fax: 419/724-4180


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