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At regular intervals you can read here articles about wonderful projects all over the country. We sometimes go to unknown niche sectors, where we are constantly stunned by the technical innovation capacity of our companies. AAMS-Salvarani is a good example of this. Who knew in advance that there is a global player in Maldegem in the development of measuring devices for agriculture? When the company evolved from device to machine builder, Act In Time was asked for support.
Let us correct ourselves immediately, because "measuring devices" you is no longer a correct description of the installations of AAMS-Salvarani, we can rightfully call them real machines. That has not always been the case. Since its inception, the company has been active in the development of measuring devices for sprayers in agriculture and horticulture. Managing director Jan Langenakens founded the company in 2002 (see box). He tells us more about the challenges he currently faces: “In the beginning, we had no customers, not even products (laughs). We just developed simple measuring devices such as pressure gauge testers and specific flow meters for dynamic measuring applications. Back in 2003 our first customers were mainly inspection bodies. Our measuring devices have evolved considerably over the years and the customer base has also been diversified with research institutions, component manufacturers and, to a lesser extent, farmers. Inspection stations still account for 60% of our turnover. Today we sell our devices in more than sixty countries. Only 2 to 3% of this can be attributed to Belgium. In recent years we have evolved from measuring device developer to machine builder. Internally we have an enormous knowledge of measurement techniques, but we prefer to outsource the motion part. That is where Act In Time comes up. "
Automated quality control
A good example of this collaboration is the development of a spray table, whereby the nozzles on the machines are subjected to a quality check. This is necessary because when spreading plant protection products, you want the liquid to be evenly distributed over the plots. Jan Langenakens: “The installation is fully automated, with the nozzles moving over the 5 by 2-meter table while spraying their liquid. There are 100 gutters of 5 cm wide on that table, which are connected to the 100 test tubes at the front of the machine. There, UM30 ultrasonic sensors constantly measure the filling level, giving you a dynamic fluid measurement. In this way, it can be determined for each nozzle whether the output and liquid distribution are as expected. " To obtain a correct measurement, the movement of the nozzles over the table must be gradual. Act In Time has elaborated that concept. On their behalf, Commercial Director Pieter Van Overbeke joins the table: “A simple single-axle version of this machine already existed, whereby a simple DC motor with customer-specific PCB was chosen, which controls the horizontal movement over the linear guide via an encoder. We didn't want that anymore for this machine, because we still want more stability and reliability. That is why we developed a new concept based on closed-loop stepper motors with electromagnetic brake and an absolute encoder. For the control part, Act In Time works with Atos engineering, whose motion controller ensures synchronous control of the motors with a pulse / direction signal. The P352 and P316 controllers handle the digital and analog I / Os, including these from the ultrasonic sensors. Furthermore, the STO function ensures a safe shutdown of the motors in the event of an emergency stop. In addition to the movement of the shaft on which the nozzles are placed, there is also an additional
movement for the motor-controlled valves that cause the tubes to tilt to empty them. "
“The linear slides are of the CTJ145 type, these are timing belt slides with a double ball guide. This double version ensures a better absorption of the load. With acceleration you always get a lot of inertia on the carriage. It is also important that it is a corrosion-resistant version, not unimportant if you know the circumstances in which these components are exposed. "
Jan Langenakens picks up: “We are used of that in this area. We also have to provide our ultrasonic sensors with an extra coating, for otherwise problems can arise due to the mist that is created. In combination with some static electricity, this led to early outages. Now we treat them for assembly and that problem is over. "
A short video of the machine can be found on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gu2abOme2g8&t=84s
(C) Translation into English of the original article in Automation Magazine March 2019 Nr. 215
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