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Automation, Control & Plant Intelligence News Updates   |   June, 2010
Production Runs Smoothly with Efficient OEM Machinery Repair by Kasa Controls

June 11, 2010; To keep pace with evolving news stories in the Salina, Kansas community, the Salina Journal’s newspaper production department is responsible for efficiently printing, bundling and shipping papers to the publication’s 30,000 daily readers. They are also responsible for printing advertising periodicals and other local papers such as the Hays Daily News. Downtime means lost productivity resulting in delayed product delivery—a significant concern in so timely an environment—and increased labor and repair costs.

The production department uses many pieces of automation. Their OEM equipment, including two newspaper strapping machines operate at least two six-hour shifts daily and handle bundles varying in size from 25 to 75 papers. These machines are susceptible to wear due to their high usage. The consequences of a malfunctioning machine pose a significant cost for the publication. Each machine is part of a conveyor system that transports newspapers throughout the assembly and bundling process. If a machine breaks down, the entire automated system is influenced. The process would then require two employees to strap the papers by hand and return bundles to the conveyor system—slowing production tremendously and escalating labor costs.

When one such strapping machine broke down, Production Director Dave Atkinson at the Salina Journal investigated options for repairing the equipment, which involved further costs. OEM equipment is often designed in a proprietary way that may make it difficult for equipment owners to maintain without the OEM’s supervision. Thus, when a machine’s PLC breaks down, it often costs more than a PLC replacement fee—an off-site OEM service representative may need to be flown in to repair the machinery on the equipment owner’s dime.

Seeking an alternative option, Atkinson contacted Mike Haug, CEO of Kasa Industrial Controls, a provider of turnkey industrial control systems also based in Salina, Kansas.

“I’m friends with Mike, and from our prior conversations I knew his company frequently worked with control systems,” Atkinson said. “We were left with the option of hand-strapping papers for a few days and/or paying for a service provider to fly from Ohio [where the OEM is located] with a new part or perhaps an entirely new PLC. I called Mike to discuss our problem, and he put me in touch with their engineers immediately.”

In response, two of Kasa Industrial Controls’ project engineers visited the Salina Journal’s pre-press and press facility to identify the machine’s malfunction and, if possible, fix it on-site that same day. Steve Pistora, sales engineer at Kasa Industrial Controls, evaluated the application and offered Atkinson an upgrade option for their existing equipment.

“While we offer a full range of engineering services—including design, start-up and troubleshooting—one of our primary responsibilities is to find the best equipment solution, without being restricted to a single manufacturer,” Pistora said. “We are familiar with OEM equipment used in many areas, from grain handling to automotive and other industrial automation divisions, and we can relate the systems used in each industry to one another. This allows us to fabricate a uniquely-specialized solution for the application at hand.”

Kasa Industrial Controls has experience working with machinery designed by a wide range of manufacturers, so the company’s engineers can often assess and repair even proprietary OEM equipment. When equipment is malfunctioning, the company can recommend an immediate repair when needed, as well as an equipment upgrade that best suits the application.

In this application, an output contact within the Salina Journal’s strapping machine’s PLC was malfunctioning. Kasa Industrial Controls’ engineers removed the PLC hardware and identified the faulty output contact. They then replaced the faulty output contact with an unused output contact within the same PLC and reinstalled the PLC.

This repair provided a temporary fix so that the strapping machine could resume operations immediately, providing time to design a future equipment upgrade that was well planned and more cost-effective. The Salina Journal’s strapping machine was up and running within an hour and a half of Kasa’s arrival—at half the cost. The solution saved Atkinson and his staff a substantial amount of effort and granted them time to arrange a more permanent, properly designed equipment upgrade.

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For more information on Kasa Industrial Controls, visit www.kasacontrols.com.
Learn more about the Salina Journal by visiting www.salina.com.
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