For decades, data logging has been an arduous and tedious process. And when done “old school” with pen and paper, it can also be a process where errors can be easily made.
CAS DataLoggers can not only streamline that process but make sure problems due to human error are virtually eliminated.
“Our real focus is to eliminate the need for pencil and paper in the manufacturing, plant floor, research, and development environments with respect to data logging,” said Pete Martin, president of CAS Dataloggers. “We’re providing options to automate that process of collecting data, if it’s purely for quality, if it’s for regulatory — whatever the driver is — to give you the ability to do that without paper so that it’s all automated.”
And although CAS DataLoggers works with many industries, the need to keep track of data is especially important in the heat-treat arena.
“I think there are a lot of similarities and need for what we do across all the industry segments that we service,” Martin said. “But in the end, many of the customers really have some unique, specific needs when it comes to their temperature data, or we deal with any other kinds of data acquisition that’s required in their process.”
That process may be driven by how the measurements are made or how the data is handled and archived or how the customer wants to be made aware of those out-of-tolerance conditions, whatever they may be, according to Martin.
“We as a business, we really push to listen to what the customer says about their needs and then ask questions that — in a lot of cases — they haven’t really thought about themselves,” he said.
And within the heat-treat industry, temperature measurement is of paramount importance, according to Martin.
“Our general business is as a distributor of data logging, data acquisition, and paperless recorders, and temperature is the most widely measured parameter,” he said. “By doing that, we can provide alerts or alarms for out-of-tolerance conditions and give you the ability to actually recover from problems that may exist whether it’s the heating or the cooling part of your operation.”
Collecting the data
The devices used to collect the data have features in the hardware and software that can be configured by the user for measuring virtually any parameter, according to Martin. The devices can communicate alerts via email, text message using a network connection through the internet, or the devices can be hardwired to signal PLCs or other controlling instruments in the plant.
And that variety of how best to collect and view data is a big part of CAS DataLoggers’ appeal.
“We focus on giving people tools to automate data collection that their process requires,” Martin said. “With respect to heat treating, if you’re talking classical metal heat treating with ovens, a lot of times those are stationary ovens. We’ve got intelligent instruments that can sit outside the oven with thermocouples that let the data collection happen without needing a person to sit there and pay attention to it. Whether it’s having to walk by every X minutes or every hour and write data down on a clipboard, or at the end of the day, tear a piece of paper off a strip-chart recorder or a circular recorder, we eliminate the need for a person to have to perform that task.”
Keeping companies informed
The need to gather data quickly and accurately will only continue to grow, and Martin stressed that part of CAS DataLoggers’ mission is to make sure companies don’t stagnate and get left behind.
“I’ve spent my professional life as an electrical engineer in the instrumentation and automation sides of the business, beginning in the aerospace world and then moving onto more classic sequential manufacturing,” he said. “Data that’s present on the plant floor has become an increasingly important thing for people to run their business, whether it’s just for quality metrics or the regulatory piece that might surround it.”
The experts at CAS DataLoggers are constantly asking customers — and prospects — questions and rely on the company’s sales engineers’ experience, according to Martin.
“With the years that they’ve been talking to different people, they’ve got the insight to help guide clients towards what the best solutions may be,” he said. “Then we can look through the list of products and solutions that we have and give them the best recommendations and then, it’s obviously ultimately their choice. But we can give them some good options to look at how the data’s handled.”
Stellar technical support
Martin pointed out that CAS DataLoggers’ technical support is an area where the company really shines.
“We really pride ourselves on the technical support that we provide, both in the pre-sale side, and also after the sale,” he said. “We think that really separates us from other people who are purely just a catalog house and don’t have actual experience applying these kinds of products.”
Martin said that his time as an engineer and then moving into a sales role has allowed him to learn and see what happens when his company helps a customer solve problems.
“We’ve had loggers that have gone to the space station on the shuttle,” he said.
That work also includes a lot of aerospace, underwater, and oil and gas applications, to name a few, but what Martin said really gives his company pride is hearing positive results from his customers.
“The things that I would say give us the most pride are when we hear back from a customer who has kind of been saved because of something we’ve sold them,” he said. “They’ll call back and say, ‘Hey, I was able to save the production run because your device alerted me to an issue.’ Specific to heat treating, we’ve got a couple of customers who were using old school devices or pen and paper with long-term heat-treat processes. Over the weekend, if something happens to the oven, they’d come back in on Monday morning and have to scrap a whole run of materials. We had a customer on the far west side of Cleveland who was processing very expensive, unique alloys and lost power to an oven over the weekend.”
In the past, that would have meant a loss of thousands of dollars’ worth of material, according to Martin.
“Once they implemented one of our data logging solutions, they would have a record of exactly what happened to the product and the temperature as the oven cooled,” he said. “With the data in hand, they could determine where to restart the process and prevent scrapping that material.”
Two decades of data
CAS DataLoggers has been in business since 2000, according to Martin. The company was started by a manufacturer’s rep company. One of the manufacturers decided to change how it went to market in the U.S. and CAS DataLoggers was formed. It later grew to include additional products and brands that focused on high-end data acquisition, data logging, and temperature monitoring.
“Myself and my partner bought the business in 2010, and here we are,” he said.
As CAS DataLoggers continues, Martin expects more varied ways that data will be collected and monitored, and his company will move forward in that direction as well.
“There’s a lot going on with technology, with the internet, cloud storage, with the Internet of Things idea that’s making its way to the plant floor,” he said. “But there are a lot of obstacles that remain in terms of data security, redundancy, and just ensuring that what you need to have happen is actually going to happen. That’s a little bit risky from a business perspective.”
But Martin is positive that word of mouth coupled with success stories in the marketplace will push the need for data logging into the hands of those who really need it before negative consequences can occur.
“It’s only going to be too late if the impact of not having data automated and having it available to them runs them out of business,” he said.
But industries are seeing the need for the services CAS DataLoggers offers more each day, according to Martin.
“With the breadth of customers we get to interact with, it really makes coming to work every day interesting,” he said. “Because I can talk to a nurse with a vaccine freezer one morning, and 10 minutes later, I’m talking to somebody working for the military or in some kind of high-end aerospace application.”
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