Engineering-Partner Approach Pays Off
EP Editorial Staff | March 13, 2017
HMI supplier’s value-adding support helps another OEM modernize its product offering and maintain a competitive edge.
KOR Engineering Inc. (KOR) is a full-service provider of high-performance inspection-slitter rewinders for the label-printing industry. The company markets, develops, manufactures, and installs the products from its 34,000-sq.-ft. facility in Oakville, Canada.
KOR contacted human-machine-interface (HMI) supplier EAO (Shelton, CT, eao.com) regarding a simple components order for a new control panel for its labeling and packaging machinery. The request was to provide individual controls for panels located in several operational areas within KOR’s equipment. After further input about the design-engineering specifics, EAO learned there wasn’t a particular direction or plan for what KOR wanted the end product to look like—just that it wanted to modernize the appearance of the machinery while ensuring the ruggedness of the controls.
Environment plays a crucial role in the design process and eventual implementation of HMI systems and components. Because KOR’s products are used in the label-printing industry, the machinery frequently runs in aggressive environments that expose it to harsh chemicals, oils, and cleaning agents. This reality presented an opportunity for EAO’s design-and-engineering team to provide an HMI solution capable of withstanding the specific environments to which KOR’s products were exposed.
Instead of suggesting a standard solution that involved marking the control panels by engraving, printing, or silk screening, EAO’s team of designers and engineers recommended a full HMI solution that was rugged enough to meet the demands of harsh end-user environments. To customize these solutions for the tough settings where each unit is located, EAO ultimately suggested a Metal Photo-finish process on the panels’ aluminum substrate. This process would not only be durable, it would also provide a clean, sophisticated look for the finished equipment.
The Metal Photo process uses an etching acid to create high-quality images, graphics, or text on metal plates that can withstand severe abuse. Although KOR had not been familiar with the process—and was hesitant, at first, to accept EAO’s recommendation—it was enthusiastic about the final product.
The team at EAO also assisted KOR in establishing which components would be best suited for the operational setting. EAO presented its Series 04 product line, which has an IP65 oil and water rating for maintaining maximum capability within such harsh environments. Each panel was also outfitted with a Series 84 certified e-stop to conform to strict ISO standards.
Rather than merely respond to a simple component request, EAO was able to help KOR throughout an entire product-development process, from concept to production. EAO’s team understood and considered all challenges associated with KOR’s new product line, then defined and supplied appropriate control technologies while meeting all of the customer’s specific production requirements.
Prior to this project, KOR had been acquiring different parts through various vendors—which often was a time-consuming, resource-draining effort. EAO enveloped this multi-pronged procedure and consolidated it to simplify the entire process. This engineering-partner approach led to an increase in productivity while simultaneously saving money for KOR over the long term.
Additionally, EAO’s ability to adapt to KOR’s unique situation helped complete the machinery and deliver it to market faster than expected, something that gave the engineering company an advantage over its competition.
With this project, KOR Engineering’s system and production structure was modernized and improved, and the company discovered an ongoing solutions-focused partnership with EAO. MT