Small parts in production systems, like rotary encoders, often break down without warning and need replacement. The plant would have to shut down, causing unnecessary expenses and delays.
This problem is avoidable by preventive and predictive maintenance. With rotary encoders that can self-diagnose and show when there are problems, you’re better at scheduling your next repair.
Common Reasons Why Rotary Encoders Break Down
Often, rotary encoders break down due to the following:
- Poor installation. Improper installation can cause imbalances and wear on the ball bearings. These issues can make the drive unit erratic.
- Dirt in the rotary encoder. Dust on the incremental disc can cause the rotary encoder to send one less pulse than necessary, causing failure.
- Imbalance of the drive unit. If the drive unit isn’t balanced, it could stress the soldered joints and contacts too much, resulting in intermittent problems.
- Overheating of the encoder. If the rotary encoder gets too hot, the lubricant inside can evaporate and make the bearings seize up.
- Through the cable gland, moisture can get into the rotary encoder through the housing.
Advanced Diagnostic System (ADS™)
Leine & Linde, a Heidenhain sister company, built an early warning system into its rotary encoders to prevent unexpected failures. They call it the Advanced Diagnostic System or ADS™.
Suppose the rotary encoder checks inside to ensure the pulses are complete and in the proper sequence. The ADS system will record tiny differences between the counter and the programmed division. The system will then report it through a potential-free switching output. The overriding system control can use this information to evaluate and display the fault.
A flashing LED on the back of the housing and the switching output can indicate a fault. This lets you use the ADS™ without extra wiring.
You should install these indicators where you can see them, so an occasional visual check is enough. The LED light is also visible enough to see from 10 meters away.
In the rotary encoder, the ADS™ stores the time of the error and the error code that goes with it. You can read the error code with an RS-232 interface if something goes wrong. The encoder also keeps track of how long it has been running, how fast it turns, and temperature information. If a problem keeps coming up, the ADS™ also stores this information.
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