From large 3D printers to measurement equipment, there has been a common component in industrial machines over the last thirty years: The controls cabinet.
This was a separate enclosure, usually sheet metal, that would house computer, communication, controls, and human interface, including the monitor. The first monitors were CRT-based and could get very large, so it made sense to create a separate cabinet, and not crowd out the the working part of the machine. Though this approach required a high number of cables to be connected between the cabinets, it made sense in terms of resources, dividing teams between controls and instruments, and it allowed for flexible configuration on the floor.
But while technology has accelerated to the point where an inexpensive tablet has all the interface capability, processing power, and communications to run complicated equipment, the separate cabinet is still being built. That is just the way things are done.
So when Devlin Design was asked to rethink the enclosure for Adcole’s Model 1100/1200 cam shaft gage in 2017, there was much resistance to the proposal of placing the interface right on the front of the gage, mounting sensors and controls inside, and eliminating the second enclosure.
But there were just too many advantages to ignore:
Cost savings with one less cabinet to build
Shipping savings with less volume in the box
Simplification of wiring
Increased reliability - no need to run cables on-site, and access to controls is simplified
A 40% reduction in floor space.
Adcole went ahead with the new design, and added an innovative safety door that easily tucks to the side. Customers have been delighted with the space savings on the floor allowing them to line up cam shaft gages in efficient rows. Orders have been healthy and fifteen have already been built.
When innovation hits a plateau, it may be difficult for team members to effect change in a corporate culture that has become too comfortable. Hiring an outside consultant allows companies to re-examine their product offerings with a fresh set of eyes. Though there will always be some resistance, it is critical to push through seemingly difficult changes in order to remain competitive.