Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New or used equipment? Buy or lease? How do I decide?

When considering a new piece of equipment, it is not all that different from shopping for a new car. Should I buy new, or will used be okay? I don’t want to overspend, but I don’t want to get stuck with a lemon either. The answer starts with an assessment of needs. Is this the family car or a first vehicle for your teenage son? Probably somewhere in between. We look at three primary areas: 1) What is the life of the project? 2) How critical are the part requirements and how demanding is the process? 3) What do you need in terms of dependability or reliability in meeting delivery demands?

We first look at the life of the project because, if the number of parts produced is high, the decision is easy. If you are looking at a three-year run on 2.5 million parts, a $20,000 machine costs less than a penny per part and, with purchase/lease options, this expense can be timed as needed. With a part-cost this low, why take any risk in terms of performance or reliability or even that you might have to replace the machine midway through production. And why not give yourself all the technical support and applications assistance and training that comes with new equipment. But if your need is more short-run, there is more to consider.

We next look at the part requirements and what will be needed from the equipment to product quality parts consistently. First, we consider the part tolerances, the part performance and how critical the assembly process will be. Then we look at the overall manufacturing process, the degree to which parameters and materials may vary, and the severity of the environment and how taxed the equipment will be. Whether you are making the plastic toy in a kid’s meal, or a hermetic seal on a pacemaker, there can be aspects of almost any operation that push equipment to the limit.

Next, we consider the importance of dependability. If you are manufacturing for inventory on a stand-alone machine, a three-day shutdown may be of little consequence. But if you are producing for just-in-time delivery to an automotive assembly line, a one-hour delay can cost thousands. In placing a value on dependability, consider whether you have other similar machines that could cover the load, and to what extent your own people are able to service your equipment. Alternatively, consider the availability of parts and the reliability in being able to get the service or answers you need when you need them.

With a realistic assessment of needs, we then look at the choice between new and used equipment. In this industry, new equipment comes with an entire basket of services at no additional cost, such as technical support, applications assistance, service and training. Here again, the value you place on these services depends to some extent on your in-house-capabilities.

Manufacturers typically charge $1,000 per day, plus expenses, for field calls for service or applications assistance. And with used equipment, most warranties are not transferable because equipment can be exposed to such a wide variety of adverse conditions. For these reasons, Factory Certified used equipment can be an attractive option. Dukane offers all our same service and support, plus a limited warranty, on used Dukane equipment that has been through a complete inspection at our facility. Another alternative is our rental program, which allows you to choose from our entire product line. This can be a cost-effective solution for short-term needs and rental payments can be applied toward purchase. We also offer numerous leasing options with various terms to match the life of a project. Similar to renting, leases can lead to ownership, through a dollar buyout at lease end, and payments can be expensed in the current period without tying up capital.

Today, more than ever, there are a lot of purchase options when considering equipment. And in today’s business climate, the incentive to save a few dollars is real. Yet, at the same time, competition has never been more fiercefiercer and your customers’ demands are not getting easier. We’ve tried to provide as many equipment alternatives as possible and area eager to help you evaluate which is best for you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Trigger by Power Feature Aids Weld Consistency

Dukane’s patented Trigger by Power option (now in the iQ Series of ultrasonic generators) can be used to produce more consistent welds by requiring a sufficient and repeatable amount of pressure/force to be applied to the part before the actual weld cycle starts. Trigger by Power is a cost effective alternative to trigger by force. However, unlike Trigger by Force, Trigger by Power does not require additional, expensive components such as a load cell, amplifier board or cabling. In effect, the system uses the ultrasonic stack as a load cell. When the ultrasound is activated, the amplitude is ramped up to the Trigger Amplitude setting and held there until enough force is applied to the part to reach the Trigger Power setting. At that point the weld cycle begins and will continue until the weld control parameter (Time, Energy or Power) is reached. Sufficient force must be applied to the part to trigger the weld cycle. Otherwise, the Trigger Timeout is reached without starting the weld cycle.

Settings for Trigger by Power:
Trigger Amplitude
This is the percentage of amplitude the generator applies to the horn before it reaches the Trigger Power setting. The range of the Trigger Amplitude setting is from 20-100%. Set this value so it is low enough not to scuff the part, but the value should be high enough that the Trigger Power setting is reached when the desired force is applied to the part.
Trigger Power
This is the power level that must be reached at the Trigger Amplitude setting for the weld cycle to start. The range of the Trigger Power setting is based on the power rating of the specific iQ generator used. This setting must be high enough so the iQ generator does not trigger while ramping up to the Trigger Amplitude, but it should be low enough so that it can be reached at the current Trigger Amplitude setting when the desired force is applied.
Trigger Timeout
This is the maximum time the welder remains at the Trigger Amplitude setting before aborting the weld cycle. The range of the Trigger Timeout setting is from 0 to 30.000 seconds. This setting should be long enough so that there is sufficient time to apply the force required to reach the Trigger Power setting. However, the Trigger Timeout setting should not be so long that the weld could be adversely affected by the horn being in contact with the part for too long at less than the Trigger Power setting.
How is Trigger by Power Used?
Ultrasound must always be activated before contact is made with the part. Once the horn comes in contact with the part, the force is increased until the Trigger Power setting is reached. At this point the weld cycle starts and continues until the control parameter (Time, Energy, or Peak Power) is reached. If the Trigger Power setting can’t be reached, either increase the Trigger Amplitude setting, decrease the Trigger Power setting, or increase the amount of force applied to the part.