Managing Aging Electronics on Bindery Equipment

As far back as the late 80’s, the migration towards electronic controls on bindery equipment was well underway.  Pulleys, belts and gearboxes were being replaced by motor drives.  Relays were being replaced by PLCs.  Knobs and switches were being replaced by display panels and computer screens. By the year 2000, all bindery equipment contained modern, electronics-based controls.

An article on puts the average age of production machinery in the United States at around 22 years.  Many machines from the 80’s and 90’s, especially if they are Muller machines, are still in service.  But that means some of these machines are more than 30 years old.  Their mechanical condition may be apparent since one can readily observe corrosion or wear and tear on belts and bearings.   Mechanical parts signal their health by making noises or vibrating.  But the health of electronic components is not as easy to judge visually.  Electronic components often work fine until a sudden complete failure. So, what can be done to assess their condition?

It is difficult, if not impossible, to see inside electronic components. Yet, it is very instructive to inspect them visually.  Housings on components can be cracked.  Protective doors may be missing.  Fans in electronic enclosures may not be functioning.  Air filters can be clogged.  Cables can be pinched or their jackets frayed.  Oil, paper dust, and glue may accumulate around connectors, switches or photo sensors.  Many so called electrical problems are really physical problems.  Detecting these problems before they cause a failure is possible with a thorough visual inspection.

Electronic components are predominantly vendor items to Muller Martini.  This means that we are subject to the supply constraints of the electronics vendors that we have used over the years.  Periodically, vendors substitute or discontinue parts.  Where possible, Muller engineers replacements.  We also do our best to extend the supply of parts before they become obsolete by making group buys.  It is, therefore, incumbent that our customers perform periodic reviews of stock and parts availability.  Muller can help assess your parts through a customized program.

It goes without saying that electronics represent critical machine components.  Following these suggestions can help maximize the productivity and longevity of your aging bindery equipment.


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