- August 22, 2014
- POSITAL - Fraba Inc.
The POSITAL Advantage: Modularity and Mass-Customization
Until now, users of position and motion sensors have had to choose between low-cost standardized products and more expensive custom-built items. For cost-sensitive applications, sensor builders have adopted mass production techniques, building large runs of identical products. The rotation sensors used in automotive ABS and stability control systems are good examples of high-volume, mass produced items. For more demanding customers – such as machine builders creating complex industrial automation and motion control systems – sensor manufacturers have often relied on a more craft-based approach, with expert machinists building custom-designed products in in small batch quantities. These specialized items are more expensive than their mass-produced counterparts and usually take far longer to be delivered. However, for the specialist machine builder, getting instruments that meet their exact requirements can often be more cost-effective than adapting a not-quite-right unit.
POSITAL has broken down the “inexpensive but inflexible” vs. “customized but costly” divide by developing a new mass-customized approach to sensor design and fabrication. This approach centers on a highly modular device architecture. Sensing elements, controlling microprocessors, housings, communications interfaces, mounting hardware etc. are all designed to be – as far as possible – interchangeable modules. Thus, for example, if the buyer of a rotary encoder requires a POSITAL IXARC multi-turn magnetic encoder with a stainless-steel housing, IP67-rated seals, a 10 mm solid shaft and a CANopen communications interface, the technician responsible for assembling the device can simply select the appropriate sub-components from inventory and put them together. This approach means that FRABA can offer an extremely large number of possible variations on their basic sensor designs – over 135,000 models currently!Moreover, special configurations can be built and delivered quickly – usually within a few days of receiving an order.
FRABA’s modular approach to sensor fabrication is supported by a highly computerized manufacturing control system. Assembly technicians are provided with step-by-step instructions that guide them through the assembly process. (These instructions are in graphical form, which avoids communications problems with a multi-lingual workforce.) The production control system also tracks each item from the time an order is received, recording information about construction, QA testing, calibration and shipping.