Shortly after I started working at Panasonic Factory Automation, I was working on a machine at Celestica. I was asked to look at a line where the circuit boards were not transferring properly. The placement machine was a Panasonic, but the conveyors were from another supplier.
Of course, the conveyor representative said his equipment was working properly -- and the conveyors did transfer properly to other conveyors. When I asked my supervisor for specifications on voltages and currents, I was told not to get involved, because the Panasonic machine was not the problem -- it must be the conveyors. I explained to my contact that I had been instructed not to work on this problem. He wasn't pleased, but he did understand.
Some time later, while working on a different machine at Celestica, there was a line in that section that had Panasonic machines and conveyors. Now I had a chance to measure the voltages and currents as the boards transferred. Then I did the same measurements on the problem line. I found that the Panasonic machine could sink only seven milliamps, but the conveyors needed 40 mA to transfer. I used an experimenter's breadboard to set up a simple transistor circuit as a current amplifier. This allowed the Panasonic machine to work with the other conveyors.
The Celestica engineer liked the fix but wanted the transistor inside an enclosure. I built a few black boxes with plug-in connectors. Panasonic's controllers were called Panadacs. The engineer named my transistor boxes Glennadacs, and they became a regular fix between the Panasonic machines and the conveyors.
The most important thing was that I had fixed the problem, rather than just blaming the other equipment. And since I had fixed the problem, I got to define what the problem was.
This entry was submitted by Glenn Aitchison and edited by Rob Spiegel.
Glenn Aitchison's first field service job was in 1987. Since then, he has worked in robotics, automotive, and industrial automation and machinery. He has received Certificates of Qualification as an Industrial Electrician and as an Industrial Mechanic (Millwright).
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