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Dec 12, 2014

Washdown Computer for Industrial Use: Get More Than a Toy

We make washdown computers that are designed to get things done in real world production settings. Often, we see competitors who simply take a basic computer and seal it in a stainless steel enclosure and pass it off as an industrial washdown computer.

washdown computers

17-in SDS Touchscreen HMI

Technically, they may be right that they have made a computer that repels water and not just a computer in a box, but does it have the peripherals that make industrial controller/computers truly productive and the power protection to keep it running?

Our customers have come to appreciate that our design allows room for an uninterruptible power supply within our NEMA 4X enclosure.  We add modular I/O capabilities that transform a basic computer into an HMI/Controller with nearly limitless abilities to run processes and gather data.

We start with a 17-inch touchscreen monitor that is rated NEMA 4X and mount it in our stainless steel enclosure that has been honed to near perfection.  We connect that monitor to a compact CPU by a USB port.  From there, we customize the arrangement and location of I/O modules to produce an industrial controller/computer with unmatched versatility that is able to stand up to the harsh washdown practices and the rigorous demands of so many of today’s industries, such as meat, poultry, dairy, seafood, chemical, and pharmaceutical.

Contact us today to see how we can provide you with a washdown computer that knows how to get things done.

See our Washdown Computers.

SDS Industrial Controller

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Dec 4, 2014

Can Product Info and Weight Be Displayed for Hand Scanner Use?

This was the desire expressed by a client recently.  They wanted to use an NTEP “Legal for Trade” certified scale and indicator with a display capable of displaying a barcode with the weight and product information, which could be scanned using a wireless hand scanner.

washdown computers

17-in SDS Touchscreen HMI

However, when confronted with an obstacle to a customers need, we look for a way to meet the need.  The solution in this case, was a custom program for our Scale Data System (SDS) with inclusion of an NTEP certified signal processor, as well as the associated software.

The software would actually interpret the weight and display a barcode on the touchscreen display that represented the weight. The end user was satisfied as they then could use their hand-held barcode scanners to quickly and efficiently obtain the scale weight. This saved the end user the costly process of modifying their hand held scanner host software. We accomplished this task with our SDS 1700 which utilizes a 17-inch NEMA 4X display housed in a stainless steel washdown enclosure.  This full featured color touch screen human machine interface is powered by an enclosed industrial controller utilizing an embedded Windows® environment.  This SDS has the added benefit of NTEP approved weight indicator functions built in. Consequently, programming can provide for the bar code display desired.

Of course, there are additional features available with an SDS such as data management programming, statiscal analysis, as well as Ethernet capabilities.  The fact is that the customer’s need has been met.

SDS Industrial Controller

SDS Industrial Controller

See our Industrial Controllers

Oct 23, 2014

History of Human Machine Interface & Weight Indicator Combination

Over the years, our control enclosures and human machine interfaces (HMIs) have evolved drastically. Our long-standing offering, the Scale Data System (SDS) HMI, is a combination of all of the indicator and interface knowledge that we have developed over the years. Now, it is used as the sole foundation for almost all of our new products including checkweighers that we are shipping out, and for good reason.

washdown computers

SDS 17-inch HMI Interface

In the past, our old control enclosures used to consist of a simple stainless steel enclosure with a smart (programmable)  panel-mounted weight indicator mounted in the face. It did what we needed, but it didn’t offer us the power, programming control, or the user-friendliness that we desired from a color touchscreen.

We also built HMIs that were making use of touchscreens, industrial computers, PCs and industrial controllers, which performed well in all of the categories except for the fact that they had to be interfaced to an exterior simple weight indicator. It just made sense to combine the weight indicator with a smart HMI and process controller that could function as the foundation for many of our systems including our checkweighers and conveyor scales. Faster-Processing-Smaller-Footprint

The real advantage for the whole system is the seamless integration of the VBS weight indicator functionality into the SDS HMI. This is important because it allows the system to function at a much higher speed. It processes load cell A-D values at a much greater usable rate, which is roughly 33% more than other leading weight indicators. This means that often conveyor scales can be shorter because the necessary averaging times decrease with the increased processing rate.

The HMI is equipped with a washdown sealed 17” touchscreen monitor which allows easy control and viewing for plant environments. This is a major step up in usability over traditional weight indicators and controls. Using an industrial controller allows us to program the HMI exactly how you need your process to work.

Having control of the programming allows us to include features that are non-existent in other offerings and it makes updating a much smoother process. The SDS still has all of the unique features that our other enclosures are known for, such as rain gutters and foam sealed cable entry for washdown rating.

A simple, compact design makes the SDS usable as a standalone system as well as an accompaniment to dozens of other systems besides our conveyor scales and checkweighers. The versatility allows us to make this a regular addition to many products.

See our SDS YouTube Video

SDS Industrial Controller

SDS Industrial Controller PDF

See our Washdown SDS Industrial Controller

Aug 27, 2014

How Existing Data is Integrated Into a VBS System

The simplistic answer to this common question is basically that it is a form of electronic copy and paste. When data is maintained in a host data base, our programming department can provide for necessary information to be selected and introduced through a retrieval program. Data is usually maintained in tables such as those in SQL format data bases. A program is written for the respective database to select desired data and place it in an applicable information table for export and use in a system as necessary.

washdown computer

Commonly, weight data from a scale system is simply stored on the indicator and is provided on demand from a program that we have developed on a host computer. This program subsequently provides the communication necessary for data transfer to occur between the indicator and SQL or other database.  The type of cabling between hardware may be either serial cable or ethernet cable depending on desired form of communication and speed requirements.

washdown computers

As with any project and especially when data integration is required, there should be a thorough review of the overall data process and utilization. Sometimes, there are artificial boundaries in the form of the left hand unintentionally not interacting sufficiently with the right hand to realize organizational information efficiency. Although information security is of prime concern for operations, it should not be a barrier to a company’s organizational efficiency. Often times, the round table discussions on data needs and use will result in a better understanding and greater appreciation of other operational activities of the company.

The end goal is to provide the necessary data when and where it is needed. The data could be integrated in labeling and also required in product tracking and accounting.

SDS Industrial Controller

SDS Industrial Controller

Jul 30, 2014

Increase Your Productivity Using Two Floor Scales and a Programmable Indicator

Trying to fill totes with product according to weight and specific project orders can be very labor intensive, time consuming and somewhat troublesome. This is especially true if there are product variables such as varied size and additional treatments affecting the volume and weight of the product.

deck scales_01

We recently helped a customer increase productivity and decrease labor activities a great deal. Initially, he was using two independent 4’ x 4’ 5,000 lb floor scales, side-by-side to fill product totes. He would fill one tote to a desired target weight and then manually re-position a Y-valve over the neighboring empty tote.

washdown computer

The previously filled tote would then be subsequently removed after noting the weight and replaced with an empty tote. This activity continued until the desired computed weight accumulation for the project (customer) was complete.

deck scales_03

The desire here was to automate the preferred process. To do this, we replaced the two basic indicators with a smart, programmable indicator. This allowed for our programming to use a specified formula incorporating user input of product and treatment variables to designate the necessary tote target, and project weights. Once the operator initiates the project, the smart indicator monitors the progression of weight accordingly. It subsequently provides an output signal to an actuator directing compressed air to re-position the Y valve as the tote target level is achieved. As the second tote fills, the first is removed and replaced and that scale is re-zeroed and ready for use.

deck scales_02

The preceding process continues until the project run weight is achieved. An override feature was provided, should additional product filling be desired near the end of the run. As you can imagine, productivity and efficiency jumped dramatically from using the smart indicator and our associated program in this system development.

Both the customer and employees are happy with the reduced labor, greater efficiency, and accuracy.

Standard Scales Brochure

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