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The SMC Expertise Hub

SMC Expertise in: Understanding your daily needs

Inspiration, industry challenges, views, automation trends, support, answers, some questions, interpretations, advice, guidance. Our Experts speak up……

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Don’t let actuator maintenance slide

 By Gerald Rammel, Product Manager Electrical Technology, SMC Austria

Depending on the series, here at SMC we rate the lifetime of our electric actuators at 5000 km or 30 million cycles without service or maintenance. There are many reasons for this performance level, including robust engineering and testing, alongside internal lubrication that is sufficient for the whole life of the actuator. However, implementing a simple yet considered maintenance schedule supports even more protection for your investment.

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Counting the real cost of incorrect or poor maintenance

 By Julien Caron, Technical Support Manager & Energy Efficiency Leader, SMC France

JUNE 2023
It’s tempting to cut corners on your maintenance operations. After all, maintenance is an indirect cost with a direct impact on your bottom line profitability. In reality, however, performing insufficient maintenance simply to save on costs is counter intuitive, with such an action incurring far more cost than it recoups.

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Making sense of sensors

  By Danilo Giordana, Energy Efficiency Project Manager, SMC Italy

Such is the evolutionary rate of change in modern manufacturing that failing to keep pace with the industry’s shift to digitalisation – and its associated efficiency and productivity benefits – can prove extremely costly. But where to begin? Most professionals in this space point to data collection as the first step, because subsequent data analysis can support the adoption of predictive maintenance strategies, better decision-making and continuous process improvements. However, it is only possible to fulfil this ambition by adopting the optimal sensor for the application.

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Maintenance: SMC sets out why the ‘P’ in predictive maintenance should represent progress, not pain

 By Oliver Prang, Expert Digital Business Development, SMC Germany

Predictive maintenance has very much become an industry buzzword in recent decades as factories try to drive down their capital equipment TCO (total cost of ownership) by preventing failures and downtime in a ‘just-in-time’ way. Many wrongly assume that implementing a predictive maintenance strategy entails a complete overhaul of operations, but in reality, taking a few small steps can make a big difference to machine uptime and OEE (overall equipment effectiveness). To ensure success, it is advisable to engage with a trusted technology partner. For SMC, a global leader in pneumatic control solutions, the ‘P’ in predictive maintenance should stand for ‘progress’ not ‘pain’.

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Integrating your robot into a fully automated chain

 By Sampsa Paasisalo, Product manager at SMC Automation Oy

JUNE 2023
The industrial robots of today are less expensive, more flexible and easier to program than the robots we were seeing just few years ago. However, even though this ensures more companies are now able to consider robot adoption, how is it best to achieve optimum integration among your chain of operations? Well, several options are available, with the decision often dependent on factors such as your specific application and budget

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Wireless robotics: where less is definitely more

 By Juanjo Jubete, Wireless Unit Product Specialist, SMC Spain

APRIL 2023
Ever yearned for a wireless communication system for your robotics? Fed up with cables and their associated breakages and disconnections? Want lower installation and maintenance costs? Well, wireless robotics is now a reality. In fact, it’s been here for some time, providing totally reliable, noise-resistant communication at a growing number of manufacturers that have adopted the completely unique Wireless Unit from SMC. To help anyone who is still hesitant about wireless communication technology, Juanjo Jubete, Wireless Unit Product Specialist, at SMC Spain, addresses a number of common concerns in this short Q&A.

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Use robotics to take a firm grip on production flexibility

 By Marcus Mazetti, Global Account Manager, SMC Sweden

JUNE 2022
Once the preserve of high-volume operations at automotive plants, we’re today finding that robots are infiltrating all sectors of the commercial world. Even beyond traditional manufacturing, inspection and packaging operations, we see robots fulfilling tasks that extend from mining and space exploration, through to surgery and laboratory research, and even fruit picking. With such a vast repertoire of applications, the robots of today need one principal attribute: flexibility. Much of this flexibility comes courtesy of the end-of-arm tooling (gripper), which means there are many factors to bear in mind when selecting a gripper technology supplier, not least breadth of portfolio, proven customisation capabilities and high levels of customer support.

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Cobots and end effectors team up for affordable flexible solutions

 By Andrea Trifone, Cobot project leader, SMC Italy

While robotics led the way for the rapid growth of automation, we see cobots as the democratisation of robotics technology. They eliminate the cost and complex programming that robots usually require while providing much greater flexibility.

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Save money by tackling compressed air inefficiency

 By Filip Běhounek, Customised Services at SMC Czech Republic

Imagine coming back from your summer holidays to discover that you left your AC running all that time! Ouch, with today’s high energy prices it would be an expensive shock. In an industrial environment it’s akin to your machines running compressed-air based processes that are un-optimised for idle or standby periods, or where there are undetected air leaks (almost all systems have leaks). You might think the machine isn’t using much energy, but the reality is very different.

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Fast-track your route to lower energy bills

  By Jeff Careless, Business Development Manager – Continuous Improvement, SMC UK

JUNE 2023
In an era where manufacturing and process plants are under increasing pressure from soaring energy bills and ever-tightening CO2 emissions legislation, it begs the question: is there a way to reduce my energy consumption quickly without compromising efficiency or output? The short answer is yes, with the right advice and expertise.

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Energy efficiency: amplifying the benefits of working at 4 bar

 By Marek Strojil, Customised services, SMC Czech Republic

MAY 2023
Although most pneumatic machinery and equipment operates at 7 bar, I know from experience that taking steps to reduce the system’s operating pressure to 4 bar can enhance energy efficiency, cost savings and environmental credentials. After all, every company is usually looking to save something, be it money, air, CO2, or even the planet. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, big savings do not happen overnight. Only by implementing small improvements step-by-step is it possible to bring about the overall gains desired. Here at SMC we have a simple yet highly effective product that can be one of those steps.

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Deep customer partnership drives optimal automation solutions

 By Dan Ives, Senior Project Engineer, European Technical Centre

APRIL 2023
We work closely with our customers to develop solutions based on real-life projects that, for example, align directly with their goals. This approach provides SMC with a solid foundation for the development of optimal solutions, one that we ultimately roll out to benefit the wider industry. A case in point is the new Air Management System, which not only helps to reduce compressed air consumption, by up to 62%, but also cuts carbon emissions due to less air requirement in times of low or no demand.

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Sustainable becomes attainable with SMC

 By Iván Martínez, Industries Manager, SMC Spain

The ethos of corporate responsibility, sometimes called corporate social responsibility (CSR) or business sustainability, begins with recognising that the activities of your business impact on society, the environment and the economy, as well as your employees. It makes good sense for your company to operate sustainably as the benefits extend from enhanced brand reputation through to better staff engagement. For sustainability managers at engineering companies, SMC drives sustainable development and delivers a highly positive impact through various CO2 emissions reduction initiatives. These efforts provide a major contribution towards attaining the ISO 14001 environmental management standard, and help any companies reporting their carbon reduction journey based on Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, as set out in the GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Protocol.

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SMC can help OEMs develop energy-efficient machines

 By Roy Schep, Manager Energy Efficiency, SMC Netherlands

MARCH 2022
OEMs traditionally design their pneumatic machinery and equipment for an operating pressure of 7 bar. However, by reducing this to 4 bar, I know from experience that end users can cut their energy costs by up to 29% in some instances, creating a powerful USP for the OEM. To help achieve such a desirable outcome, increasing numbers of OEMs are engaging with our team of experts here at SMC, who can offer both the know-how and products to turn this concept into reality.

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Release the pressure  

 By Andy Still, Industry Projects Manager, Energy, Europe

The subject is more than serious. Pneumatic equipment accounts for about 20% of all factory power consumption and there is a proven way to improve energy efficiency: reduce the operating pressure. SMC explains how companies can achieve this objective and thus fall in line with manufacturing’s most important current trend.

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Don’t get sucked into poor vacuum system configuration

 By Tom Litster, Engineer, Air Equipment, SMC European Technical Centre

The performance of your vacuum handling system is typically only as good as its configuration for the specific application in hand. This of course makes direct reference to the workpiece you are looking to lift or transfer in terms of its weight and shape, for example, while further considerations include target cycle time and stroke travel. Upon establishing these factors it becomes possible to experiment with vacuum level, pad diameter and number of pads to deliver the optimal-performing vacuum handling system, one that is fast, reliable and energy-efficient.

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Give your vacuum handling system a lift

 By Irina Hermann, Product Manager, SMC Germany

We all know that the centrepiece of any vacuum system is the application and system layout, typically involving the method of vacuum generation, and thus whether you use ejectors or pumps to generate the negative pressure and transfer the workpieces. However, there are many more important system components which, if overlooked, could mean that your vacuum handling unit fails to perform at its optimum level.

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Four ways to make your vacuum system more efficient

 By Martina Höller, Electrical technology product manager CEE, SMC Austria

JULY 2022
With energy prices surging across Europe, efficiency has become a high priority for all manufacturing and process plants using vacuum handling systems. Fortunately, based on decades of experience and know-how, SMC can outline four simple ways that you can reduce the energy consumption of your vacuum system. Using less energy per lift/transfer will provide a direct contribution to your bottom-line profitability while simultaneously supporting industry’s drive to net-zero carbon emissions.

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What you should know about air preparation

 By Mark Brinsley, Sales Engineering Group; Air and Fluid Equipment, SMC UK

Even though almost all factories have air preparation systems to protect their pneumatic equipment, the subject is still not so well known, and it hides some interesting aspects and optimization. One of the key questions is how prepared should my compressed air be? There is not one simple answer to this question, because compressed air quality depends on a myriad of variables, such as the air quality coming in (from the compressor), the air quality requirements in the end-of-line applications, the process or industry requirements or even the position of the filtration units. With all these uncertainties, SMC, an Expert in air treatment, will be able to support you.

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Shedding light on the dew point

 By Axel Delsaux, Product Marketing, SMC France

Dew point can be an overwhelming term, but put simply, it is the temperature at which water becomes visible. The water droplets that you can see in your cold drink derive from the dew point.

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Keep a cool head when selecting temperature control technology for life-science applications

 By Lisa Zille, Product Management & Industrial Application Center (IAC), SMC Germany

There are certain characteristics you should seek out when selecting temperature control technology for use in the life-science sector. Arguably one of the most prevalent is a system that leverages the benefits of the Peltier effect, which introduces advantages important to those conducting laboratory work, such as high temperature stability, low noise, low vibration and compact physical dimensions.

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Thermal management: a hot topic for life-science OEMs

 By Max Lemacon, Team Manager Life Science, SMC France

APRIL 2022
Design engineers at OEMs serving the life-science sector are starting to acknowledge the significance of thermal management in the drive to create quicker and more precise laboratory equipment. After all, let’s not forget that chemical reaction rates are generally proportional to temperature, while lab technicians can also increase the working time or shelf life of samples and reagents by maintaining the substance within its optimal temperature range. Of course, delivering this capability in a reliable and cost-effective way is the real challenge, which is why companies are increasingly calling upon our expert team of engineers here at SMC.

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Optimised fluid handling for life sciences analysers

 By Philippe Pinto – Industry Manager Life Science, Europe

Who has not heard about the PCR test? In vitro diagnostics (IVD) in general and analyser in a more specific sense, have always played a key role in society as they are non-invasive tests performed on biological samples (for example blood, urine or tissues) to diagnose or exclude diseases. Covid-19 has put IVD in the spotlight and diagnostic tests are, unfortunately a normal part of our daily conversations. The professionals in IVD already knew that an early diagnosis can make the difference; that the right diagnosis can make the difference. Now we all know. In this context it is no wonder that a key target for IVD in general, and analysers in particular is for them to provide fast results as well as accurate ones. Appropriate fluid handling of these techniques plays a fundamental part in achieving the desired speed and accuracy. As fluid handling involves many critical components interrelating together, it is vital to involve a skilled partner able to supply proven solutions for the entire system, at early stages of development. And that´s SMC.

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The technical challenge of sustainable packaging  

 By Jorge Salgado, Food & Packaging Industry Manager, SMC Spain

The trend is clear, and there is no going back. Consumer environmental and sustainability concerns, in terms of plastic pollution and the rise of Circular Economy principles consciousness compel the packaging industry towards a more ethical packaging. This means using material easier to recycle like monolayer plastic or paper and reducing the quantity of material used. Moving towards sustainable packaging brings technical challenges to packaging machines. Furthermore, ensuring higher sustainability goes through higher efficiency. How? Keep on reading.

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The fine art of chocolate manufacturing using SMC solutions

 By Paolo Tornavacca, Client Group Manager, SMC Italia

JUNE 2022
Refining is arguably the most important process in chocolate production as it determines the consistency and texture of the final product. We know from experience that only by using high-quality, high-performance industrial control and automation solutions, backed up with global support on a local level, will builders of chocolate refining machinery succeed in gaining market share.

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Meeting food industry challenges means having automation specialists directly on the factory floor

 By Diego Mirabelli – Industry Manager Food, Europe 

JUNE 2021
Between 2020 and 2027, the food processing market is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.04% according to Verified Market Search. The industry will have to increase its productivity while simultaneously dealing with a lack of workers and cost pressure. 
As most automation companies are focused on machine builders, SMC is differentiating itself by being present with the food manufacturers on their factory floor in order to identify the food industry’s most pressing challenges and help to overcome them.  In order to improve their productivity, factories must reduce downtime, implement more automation and improve energy efficiency, machine safety and hygiene. 

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Adopting IO-Link, the easy way

 By Bruno Salami, Product Manager Electrical Axis & Fieldbus, SMC France

Despite the many advantages of an IO-Link system - such as standardised and reduced wiring, increased data availability, remote configuration and monitoring, simple device replacement, and advanced diagnostics – we know that some of you are reluctant to adopt this technology due to the belief that configuration and programming is complex. Well, today SMC has the product solutions and in-house expertise to make your transition to this cost-effective communication protocol far simpler and quicker than you could ever imagine.

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The real implications of static electricity on your OEE

 By Maria Eugenia Gonzalez, Product Specialist, SMC Spain

Have you ever tried to remove the dust from your TV screen? It’s not easy. TV screens accumulate static charge during use, so trying to remove dust with a cloth becomes seemingly impossible because of the high static force involved. At home this effect is annoying, but in factories static electricity has a number of more serious implications, notably the effect on your bottom-line, your OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). Static electricity is the invisible OEE killer that creates downtime, bottlenecks and waste. Fortunately, there is a reliable and effective solution for removing it from all surface types: ionizers.

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