So you want to install a laser gauge . . .
Like any advanced technology, laser thickness gauges are only beneficial if they’re set up properly. That’s why we give every customer full engineering support for the install. But that doesn’t mean your team should sit on the sidelines.
To get the most out of your gauge, your team should be fully involved in the implementation.
So, want to install a laser gauge? Here are the best practices you need to consider:
1. Get everyone involved
Product, quality assurance, and engineering personnel need to be onboard with the project. Involve them early in the process to help with process changes and continue to involve them by soliciting feedback on how things are going.
2. Establish your baseline
What are your plate dimensions (for all your different plate types)? Is your current thickness variation known? Do you have issues with assembly or COS? Are you scrapping a lot of plates?
While your primary goal should be to reduce thickness variation, this could also lead to benefits down the line. So be sure to set your baselines so you can analyze results over time.
3. Set ambitious goals
Many of our customers have cut their thickness variation by 50%. Be sure to use an ROI spreadsheet to assess the quality and economic impacts of your laser gauge.
4. Plan your line layout
You can install your laser gauge before or after the flash drying process. And it’s usually possible to add the gauge without moving equipment or changing conveyors. But this isn’t always the case. Figure out whether you need to move equipment before installation and include this in the total project costs.
Look for sources of operator interference. Operators should have easy access for maintenance and cleaning from the side of the line where they spend most of their time. We share our CAD drawings with customers, so you can see exactly how the gauge will fit on your line.
5. Assess your control system
How is the paster currently controlled? Is it a manual adjustment? In-line gauging opens the door for automatic control, either through existing servos or through a retrofit with the Paste Saver.
6. Confirm access to utilities
Keep in mind you’ll need both electrical and pressurized air to run the gauge.
7. Prepare for delivery and installation
Our engineers are available to visit your facility to complete the installation and train your personnel on the operation and maintenance of the gauge.
8. Set up before/after comparison tests
Use the gauge and our reporting software to run baseline tests and output before/after reports to quantify the impact and compare results against assumed performance gains.
9. Consider changing your primary control specifications
A process deviation will be required if you move from weight-based to thickness-based control. And since thickness readings from the laser will differ from manual measurements, we’ll support you with a table to translate laser readings to weight or design thickness.
10. Program custom recipes
The laser gauge software stores your plate types and tolerances for alarming and automatic control purposes.
11. Stay in touch
We provide remote support, spare parts, software updates, and information on maintenance procedures.
12. Contact us for the next one!
Once your first gauge is in, it will pay for the next one in just 6 months.
One last thing to keep in mind:
OEM lines require longer approval times for changes than aftermarket lines. So be sure to allow for a little extra time for approval in your planning process.