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SMC Experts’ articles
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.
By Dan Ives, Senior Project Engineer, European Technical Centre
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.
By Jeff Careless, Business Development Manager – Continuous Improvement, SMC UK
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.
By Roy Schep, Manager Energy Efficiency, SMC Netherlands
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.
By Marek Strojil, Customised services, SMC Czech Republic
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.
By Séamus Dunne, Actuator Section Technical Manager, SMC European Technical Centre
Climate change, sustainability and energy efficiency have never been so high on the political agenda. The UN’s recent Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK brought the world’s political leaders, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), businesses and scientists together with the aim of accelerating action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The question for those of us at the industrial machinery level, is how can we contribute? Today, I see a new generation of engineers keen on influencing the industrial world in a positive way, creating machines that attain new levels of energy efficiency to help protect the Earth for future generations.
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.
By Max Lemacon, Team Manager Life Science, SMC France
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.
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.
By Kees van Kampen, Product Manager Thermo Control Equipment, SMC Netherlands
Thermo-chillers serve a key function in sectors such as life sciences, pharmaceutical and biotech, where correct product temperature is vital to process precision and reliability. Such is the criticality of temperature control that preventative maintenance becomes a crucial element of owning and running a thermo-chiller. With this thought in mind, our team of experts here at SMC has devised a separate preventative maintenance standard for each chiller series in our portfolio, bringing complete peace of mind to your temperature-critical processes.
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.
By Mattia Di Gaetano, TSE Mechatronic & Network, SMC Italia
There are many reasons to consider the use of electric rather than pneumatic actuators to drive your robot grippers, such as the accommodation of higher payloads, the ability to control gripper movements (not just open and close) and greater flexibility when changing workpiece size, weight or shape. If you are astute with your actuator selection you’ll also benefit from lighter weight to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
By Sampsa Paasisalo, Product manager at SMC Automation Oy
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
By Marcus Mazetti, Global Account Manager, SMC Sweden
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.
By Zdenek Velfl, Business Consultant, SMC Czech Republic
MARCH 2022 We all know that high-volume automotive applications such as welding have numerous demands, not least high productivity and reliability. Any failures or inconsistencies with the robotic solutions deployed in these processes can lead to costly production stoppages and expensive maintenance or repairs. For this reason, a growing number of robot OEMs are choosing to work with our team of expert engineers here at SMC, which can offer a highly effective and convenient modular solution for handing welding-specific media such as air, gases and water.
By Juanjo Jubete, Wireless Unit Product Specialist, SMC Spain
MARCH 2022 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.
By Andrea Trifone, Cobot project leader, SMC Italy
JANUARY 2021 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.
By Mario Sánchez, Product Specialist Sales Team Manager, SMC Spain
APRIL 2023 The challenge with maintenance is that it’s an indirect cost with a direct impact on bottom-line profitability. Most manufacturing plants resign themselves to think it a necessary function, deploying all kinds of strategies to try and minimise the associated costs, typically preventive or predictive maintenance. While these approaches save costs in a variety of ways, there is another strategy that pays even higher dividends: no need for any maintenance. Simply by choosing quality products proven to offer long-term reliability in the given environment and working conditions, you can reduce your maintenance requirements and costs considerably.
By Gerald Rammel, Product Manager Electrical Technology, SMC Austria
APRIL 2023 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.
By Julien Caron, Technical Support Manager & Energy Efficiency Leader, SMC France
APRIL 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.
By Oliver Prang, Expert Digital Business Development, SMC Germany
DECEMBER 2021 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’.
By Danilo Giordana, Energy Efficiency Project Manager, SMC Italy
DECEMBER 2021 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.
By Mile Milovanovic, Senior Engineer, SMC German Technical Centre
DECEMBER 2021 As industry turns to digital, IO-Link stands out as an easy to implement and cost-effective solution.
By Martina Höller, Electrical technology product manager CEE, SMC Austria
JUNE 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.
By Irina Hermann, Product Manager, SMC Germany
JUNE 2022 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.
By Tom Litster, Engineer, Air Equipment, SMC European Technical Centre
JUNE 2022 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.
By Mark Brinsley, Sales Engineering Group; Air and Fluid Equipment, SMC UK
OCTOBER 2021 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.
By Sean Mackenzie, Engineer, Air Equipment, SMC European Technical Centre
OCTOBER 2021 SMC was established in 1959 to manufacture and sell Sintered Metal Filter Elements. The FRL unit was first launched by SMC in 1961. 60 years of design evolution based on our customers’ requirements.
By Axel Delsaux, Product Marketing, SMC France
OCTOBER 2021 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.
By Jorge Salgado, Food & Packaging Industry Manager, SMC Spain
AUGUST 2021 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.
By Paolo Tornavacca, Client Group Manager, SMC Italia
MARCH 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.
By Wim de Vos, Sales Engineer, SMC Belgium
MARCH 2022 HACOS has its factory in Malle, Belgium, a country renowned worldwide for its excellence in chocolate. However, while there are more than 320 chocolatiers in Belgium, the reach of HACOS extends way beyond its own borders - the company today exports to more than 70 countries. As one of the world’s top 5 chocolate manufacturing machine builders, HACOS produces systems for processes that include moulding, depositing, enrobing, spinning, melting and tempering, and decorating - essentially everything required to transition from raw chocolate block to refined end product.
By Karl-Heinz Ursch, Senior Sales Expert, SMC Austria
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.
By Alejandro Molinero, Product Manager, SMC Spain
SEPTEMBER 2022 Wireless technology is seeing rapid uptake within the industrial sector, particularly on shop floors where a degree of mobility and freedom is required, such as in robot, automated guided vehicle (AGV) and RFID tracking device applications. But there remain plenty more areas where this technology could make a real difference to operations in terms of reduced costs and increased reliability.
By Bruno Salami, Product Manager Electrical Axis & Fieldbus, SMC France
SEPTEMBER 2022 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.
By Massimo Gazzaniga, Technical Support Engineer Mechatronics & Network Manager, SMC Italy
SEPTEMBER 2022 Although there are many bigger advantages to the adoption of industrial communications, one of the benefits you can tap into very quickly is the enablement of remote assistance. By implementing a system such as the SMC webserver, our remote teams can access your historical data and easily analyse the possible causes of your failure or malfunction. Our webserver offers short ROI for both users and machine builders as they can avoid expensive travel costs and provide an extremely reactive service.
By Clement Pucher, Manager European Working Group Safety Technology, SMC Europe
OCTOBER 2022 Although machine safety circuits serve to protect employees from harm, here at SMC we know from experience: you can achieve many more benefits by creating inherent machine safety – including higher profitability. This results largely from the potential to elevate productivity and tap into fully engineered solutions.
By Richard Driver, Technical Manager, SMC European Technical Centre
OCTOBER 2022 All machine builders will be aware of the requirement to design safety-related circuits. However, this task no longer needs to be an onerous one. By using a new online tool developed by our expert team, you can create a pneumatic safety circuit in minutes.
By Ferdinand Rein, Manager German Technical Center R&D 2
OCTOBER 2022 There are many benefits to both centralised and decentralised machine safety. However, here at SMC we have an innovative solution in the shape of a fully certified PROFIsafe remote I/O module with integrated valve manifold that allows you to connect all SMC devices consistently for control by the central safety-PLC (F-PLC) in a safe way.
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