It is recommended to collect as much information as possible, to assist with part identification, prior to contacting the vendor’s parts and technical support department.
Start with creating a list of observations and indications that were present at the time of the machine or component trouble.
These observations may include, but are not limited to:
What operation was the machine performing when the failure occurred?
Drilling – (vertical or horizontal)
Saw operations – X/Y axis groove saw or saw aggregate
Trimming – hogging trimmers on edgebander, trimming contour edgebanding materials, aggregates
Vertical contour routing
Any other process your machine is capable of performing
What indications were present when the failure occurred?
Diagnostic displays – inputs / outputs
Indications – indicator lights, computer display icons, error codes
Machine part pieces or components that may have been created during the machine failure –physical contact of machine components
What has been performed at the machine to clear this failure?
Machine or program operation RESET
Did the operator check for simple machine problems?
Verify program correctness
Required tooling is present on the machine – tool changer(s)
Machine function set-up – software and hardware options
Built in safety devices – function and reset
Once this list of information has been created, determine whether the suspect part(s) can be photographed to determine its proper identification before you talk to the vendor’s support staff.
Resolving a machine issue that requires replacement parts may be impacted by not identifying the correct part name, part number and its function, since the desired component may have more than one name.
Example: Do you need a “protector” or a “contactor”? Is it a “fuse” or a “circuit breaker”? Which canister air filter do you need?
With today’s digital camera technology and memory storage capacities, a photograph can be taken and sent via internet to anyone world wide.
Digital cameras store the image data by bits of information called “pixels”. The more pixels you have per square inch, the finer the image detail or resolution. Inexpensive or older cell phones may have as few as .5 million pixels, although many models offer higher resolution of 1 and 2 million pixels. The preferred camera options fall into small palm sized cameras to the standard Single Lens Reflex (SLR) with 6 and 8 million pixels. Professional SLR cameras are available with pixels in the many millions, but can be very expensive and are not required for our purposes.
You do not need to be a professional photographer with expensive equipment to produce very fine quality images. Some simple techniques and helpful tips can resolve part identification confusion and greatly assist the vendor’s response, accuracy and problem resolution.
When a photograph is taken using a low resolution camera and the vendor enlarges the image, the image will degrade to the point that the numbers and identifications on the object are no longer legible. With higher resolution images, the viewer may enlarge the image to almost unlimited size and retain the desired information.
The camera type and image detail are only one part of the photographic equation. Lighting or the lack of lighting can destroy the image quality regardless the camera type used. Most facilities use fluorescent or mercury lighting which tends to cause background color issues. In these lighting situations, the background will tend to be a dark shade of red or green. This can be adjusted with various photo enhancing software packages, usually found on most computer systems. The camera may also have the ability to photograph in black and white, which will remove any color problems.
To Use the Flash or Not
The camera most likely has a flash unit built into the camera body and is usually an automatic function. Using the flash will assist in the correcting the color issue of the item being photographed. However, the flash can also lessen the image quality due to the flash being reflected back to the camera lens. A simple piece of white fabric or white paper covering the flash lens will help scatter (defuse) the light and lessen the reflection intensity. In most cases the auto flash unit is the best choice. If you do not use the camera’s flash you will need to provide another lighting source and adjust the color.
Working with Flash Reflections
The type of material the subject is made of may also add to this reflection:
- Is the material polished aluminum or steel?
- Is the metal brushed or coated in a dull or flat material?
- Does the area behind the subject have a bright and shinny appearance?
These reflection issues can be diminished by changing the angle of the camera by just a few degrees. Move the camera up /down /left or right of the reflective surface.
Remove the Clutter
Removing the clutter from the image area of the desired part will isolate the view and simplify the image. If at all possible, remove the object from the machine area and photograph the part by itself.
A work surface that has tools, rags and unnecessary materials is a hazard for personnel and can lead to damage of expensive machine parts. By removing all of the unnecessary materials (clutter), this helps isolate the object and focus the image when photographed. Since most digital cameras offer Automatic Focus options, the clutter may also confuse the focus functions.
Simplify the Photograph
If the object can be removed from its location and photographed on a work surface, this will simplify the image and focus the viewer’s attention. Keep the table top and background as simple and plain as possible. A work surface with a bold pattern (wood grain or a design) should be covered with a blank sheet of plain fabric or paper. To photographically help define the object, place a blank sheet of white paper from a wall and drape it to the table top and photograph the object resting on the paper.
By photographing an object on a blank sheet of paper, you have isolated the view but have lost any identification of the object’s size. Place a scale or ruler next to or in front of the object to provide a dimensional element giving the vendor more useful information. Be aware of the reflective nature of any scale used. A stainless steel machinist ruler may reflect light resulting in a poor quality picture.
When ordering a part or component for your machine, it may be difficult to identify a specific part number. For example, a given machine uses a couple of differently sized air filters. The parts list identifies:
|Part Nomenclature||Part Number||Quantity|
|Filter, Air, Canister||1,234,567,890||3|
|Filter, Air, Canister||1,234,567,899||2|
Which filter do you need?
Does the vendor’s parts department have the correct filter?
How do you return the filter if you order the wrong one?
Don’t Loose the “Big Picture”
If the machine component or part you need is small, send the photograph of the part but also include a photograph showing where the part is located in the machine. This will assist the vendor’s technical support department to possibly isolate and resolve a machine failure. This may also help the parts personnel in identifying the correct part and any other components that are included with the desired part.
- Select the highest resolution possible with the available camera functions.
- Move the part to a workbench if possible, or isolate the area by removing clutter.
- Use available lighting and the camera’s flash unit.
- Defuse the flash by using a piece of white paper or cloth over the flash lens.
- Provide a definition of size by using a scale or ruler.
- Use a white sheet of paper to hide work surface and background designs and patterns.
- Move the camera off center and at a slight angle to limit reflections.
- Provide a close-up view and a larger prospective view
Providing concise easy to read photos will better assure that you will receive right parts every time.
Train with the Best to get the Best
Stiles Education has come to be known as the education and training center in the woodworking industry. We are very proud of this distinction and continue to work towards having a positive impact on your company’s most valuable asset: your personnel.
Over 25,000 Stiles Education graduates have selected and benefited from our classes. The certified training we provide assists your company to “Grow Your Own”. In this era of a shrinking pool of qualified workers, it should be reassuring that our training provides the knowledge and skill development that will assure your employees achieve higher productivity, fewer rejects and less downtime.
In 2008 Stiles Education was recognized by the Homag Group of Schopfloch, Germany (Including Bargstedt, Brandt, Bütfering, Friz, Holzma, Homag, Ligmatech, Torwegge, Weeke & Weinmann). Of Homag’s 19 sales partners throughout the world, Stiles is one of the first distributors to earn this international honor. Stiles was awarded this distinction by meeting standards on training center management, depth and quality of curriculum as well as the proven abilities of the teaching faculty.
Your investment in Stiles Education’s classes carries the very highest global accreditation through the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). Sending your employees to Stiles Education classes assures that they will receive the very highest caliber of accredited technical and soft skills training available in our industry.
Contact us at 616.698.7500 for additional information.
Written by: Phil Rasey, Stiles Education and Sally Buzalski-Hamilton | August | 2009 |