Fluke - Troubleshooting Robotic Equipment

Our thanks to Fluke for allowing us to reprint the following article.


Robotic equipment is, to many of us, amazing “new” technology. But it requires troubleshooting, just as older-technology equipment does. And sometimes, tried-and-true techniques and tools do the job best.


A wide range of robotic equipment


Over the years we’ve described the Fluke 170 Series digital multimeters as tough, versatile, feature-rich meters for troubleshooting electrical and electronic systems. A recent conversation we had with a technician at the Briggs & Stratton plant in Poplar Bluff, Missouri reminded us just how versatile a troubleshooting tool the Fluke 175 really is.


Kenny Doublin, a top-level technician for Briggs & Stratton, joined the company as a machine operator in 1989 and soon worked his way up to technician. Today he troubleshoots a wide range of robotic equipment in the Poplar Bluff plant that manufactures small engines for generators, pumps, and pressure washers.


Doublin works in the die cast area, which is divided into 25 cells that each cast small engine parts. All 25 cells run 24 hours day, 7 days a week, with a new part being produced at least every 45 seconds. If one aspect of the process goes down it can delay downstream processes and potentially cause the plant to shut down temporarily.


Each cell includes several pieces of equipment, including a:
• Reciprocator that sprays the die with lubricant release agent
• Rimrock aluminum ladler
• Robot (Fanuc, Motoman, or ABB) that removes the parts from the die
• Trim press to remove excess material on each part


Getting an early start


Doublin troubleshoots the electrical and electronic components of the automated equipment, including the programs for the Allen Bradley processors in the die cast machines, trim presses, ladlers, reciprocators, and conveyors. He starts his day around 5:00 a.m., shortly before the shift change, walking through the department looking at the machine monitors and asking the night shift staff about the most pressing problems.


“If anything is running out of parameter I’ll have the techs work on that,” says Doublin. “When I’ve completed the check of all 25 cells, I come back to any machines that have a problem and work with the engineers to troubleshoot and get the machines back up.” Fluke 175 True-rms Digital Multimeter is the baseline meter for troubleshooting and repair of electrical and electronic systems.


His chief troubleshooting tool is the Fluke 175 True RMS Multimeter, which he uses primarily for testing 110 or 480 AC and 24 DC voltage, current, and resistance. “We use the ohms function to double-check...

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