Frequently Asked Questions About Control And Drive Rebuilds

Frequently asked questions about control and drive rebuilds

Imagine if you could get another 10 to 15 years of life out of your existing machine and drastically reduce its unplanned downtime. It’s possible when you hire Kaufman Manufacturing to retrofit it with a new control system, complete with a servo and spindle drive package, at a fraction of the cost of a new machine.

Today’s control systems enable you to run your industrial equipment at peak performance and immediately alert you to any problems. Our expertise, baked into the logic of your new controller, will help you get back up and running quickly.

To help you understand more about this control rebuild program – what it involves and how it can help you improve your operations – we’ve created this set of frequently asked questions:

Q: What’s involved in a control and drives rebuild?

A: We start by interviewing you to learn how your machine is being used today, why it’s no longer performing adequately and what your ideal future state looks like – what you want your existing machine to be able to do. We require a current schematic of your machine, which gives us an accurate roadmap of its configuration.

As part of the rebuild, we replace the existing spindles, drives, sensors and wiring as well as the machine controller. We program it with logic that’s fully customized to your application. It’s based on more than three decades of experience in building and programming machine tools to work in many types of high-production applications. 

We accomplish all of this for a fraction of the cost of a new machine tool, enhancing its functionality and prolonging its life for another 10 to 15 years.

Q. What benefits can a new controller provide to my operations?

A: With older machines, diagnosing a machine problem can often be a time-consuming, trial-and-error process. As a result, your critical production machine may be down for hours while technicians try to figure out what’s wrong. 

Even a simple problem can lead to a significant loss of production.

We’ll program your machine’s new controller with logic that will make it easier to diagnose and fix machine problems much faster than ever before. For example, a modern controller can tell you exactly which sensor or relay has failed, so you can quickly replace it. 

In addition, today’s controllers can be connected to the internet, so a technician can perform remote diagnostics without having to make an on-site service call. This capability can help us get you up and running faster.

Additional benefits of having Kaufman rebuild your machine with a state-of-the-art controller and drives include:

  • Reduced wiring and connection points within the machine, which will make it more reliable. Older machines may contain up to 1,000 feet of wiring.
  • It enables you to take advantage of new technology, such as modern sensors and encoders. It can also prepare your machine for the Industry 4.0 standard.
  • A new controller enables your existing machine tool to be integrated with automation systems – such as robotics for automated and semi-automated machine tending. With many manufacturers facing unprecedented labor shortages, implementing robotics is quickly becoming a must.
  • Machine operation can be simplified because new controllers handle many of the functions that formerly required operators to push buttons or manually adjust controls. Our user-friendly machine controller interfaces enable less-experienced operators to run your machines safely and productively.

Q: Which controls do you have experience with?

A: We are an authorized integrator for Rockwell Automation, Fanuc, Fanuc Robotics, Omron and Rexroth. Controller selection is usually based upon the types of controls your staff has experience with. We will always steer you toward the one that’s the best match with your application.

Q: Parts are becoming much harder to find for my machine controls. What can I do?

A: This is one of the biggest reasons to consider updating the controls and drives of your machine. 

On average, control manufacturers design their products with a 10-year lifespan. After that, they stop producing replacement parts for them. These components can only be found on the secondary market. Problems sourcing replacement parts can result in longer than expected downtimes for your critical production machines.

Installing a state-of-the-art control system sidesteps this problem completely, while also enhancing the operation of your machine.

Q: How does the investment in rebuilding the control and drives of my machine compare to buying a new one?

A: Investing in a rebuilt control, spindles and drives costs much less than a new machine – as little as one-fourth to one-fifth of the cost. At the same time, it extends the investment in your existing capital equipment by 10 to 15 years. 

Today, many OEMs expect a 12- to 18-month payback on all new machinery. This is hard to achieve with new equipment but is much easier to justify for a rebuilt machine.

Q: How many years of experience do you have in designing, installing and maintaining machine tools, controls and drives?

A: We have over 32 years of experience in programming, installing and supporting control systems for high-production machinery. In addition, because we’re a machine tool manufacturer, we know your machines, regardless of their manufacturer. We have a deep knowledge of all types of machine tools and their applications. We know how to get the most out of your equipment.

Q: What types of machinery have you performed control rebuilds on?

A: We have performed control rebuilds for high-production machine tools used in the automotive, heavy machinery (mining and aggregates), agricultural, plumbing and fitting industries. These rebuilt machine tools now operate at a 95%-plus uptime rate.

Q: Why should I have Kaufman Manufacturing perform my control system rebuild instead of an electrical house?

A: Because we manufacture machine tools, we have an unmatched depth of experience in writing diagnostic code for their controllers. Electrical houses don’t have that type of expertise. They can install new and rebuilt components in existing machines but lack the knowledge to program their new “brains” to make them easier and more intuitive to use and troubleshoot.

As machine tool builders, we have intimate knowledge of the many ways in which machine tools can be used to enable efficient, high-speed part production. We can help you get the most out of your existing machines.

Q: I’m not sure I’m ready to invest in a machine-tool controller rebuild. What are the risks of waiting?

A: The cost of these rebuilds will increase, especially since many suppliers are experiencing component shortages. They’re responding to these challenges by raising prices. We’re also seeing acute shortages of replacement components on the secondary market.

In one recent case, a manufacturer had a machine tool that was down for repairs. They had two choices: Source a 2003 model controller, which would take 12 weeks, or acquire or a new 2021 model controller in only two weeks. We predict that these shortages will continue for at least the next year.

Reliability is another critical reason you shouldn’t wait to have your machine rebuilt. You have no idea when your machine will fail again. If and when that happens, you could risk losing a key customer contract if you’re not able to get your machine running reliably enough to meet their production targets.

Q: How can I learn more about Kaufman machine tool controller rebuilds?

A: Contact us today to discuss your needs!

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