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  1. #1
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    Default Fun with Chinese Automation

    So I started a new job where my predecessor convinced the boss to buy some chinese automation because it was so cheap. He is gone and I get to make it work. First machine is a 2 axis CNC drill with 5 spindles configured as 3 tools on pneumatically operated slides on a Servo Z axis. This machine is 6 months old and was delivered with Weihong CNC controller running on chinese PC running a chinese version of Windows XP. Everything Windows related except the name of two folders and two files is in chinese. My predecessor knew nothing about CNC, wrote a drilling program for 104 holes using G0 and G1 only!

    The plastic pipes we need to drill are held in 8 self centering clamps and I find out none are at the same height, in a straight line, centered on the spindles, and all the mounting holes are drilled in the wrong places and they filed out the holes to slots. One spindle is supposed to cut a flat and the flat is cupped because the spindle is tilted badly. Fixing it requires moving all the bolt hole in the mounting plate. All the pneumatic fittings leak like crazy because they tried to use teflon tape on O-ring face fittings.

    I get it running better and the X axis rack gear servo motor plate falls off and shears off the X limit sensor. The bolts have just a couple of threads engaged. In fixing it I discover that the air valves are dangling on hoses up in the spindle and wires are just twisted together and taped. We pull the servo with precision gear reducer and the drive gear apparently had been cut off another shaft with an angle grinder at about a 30 degree angle and through one setscrew hole. They then pounded the gear onto the gear reducer without bothering to even deburr the grinder cut. Half the linear slide bearings go off the end of the rails at one end of travel. The machine is slow because they used one VFD with contactors on the output so they have to stop the spindles completely before switching. No safety limits anywhere. Forget to turn on air, lose air, or a bad valve the machine will simply smash all the tools and spindles.

    If you think it was built to a price, it wasn't. They could have charged us double and delivered a well built machine and we would have been thrilled. They are called the Unique Drill Machine company, I think because no two parts on this machine are alike!

    Second machine is a punch press punching a series of slots in long plastic plates. Two weeks ago one of the four guide posts simply broke off and upon taking it apart the ground plates were ground with a hand grinder and nothing was straight or square so all the shafts and bearings were completely wasted. We had the plates ground and new shafts made correctly. This past week the servo driving a conveyor sheared off the gear reducer shaft because the key was the wrong size. we took the other one apart to inspect it and found it ready to fail as well. This was from another company called Bogda, and again if it cost twice as much and was correctly built they would have been thrilled.

    In another week two cutting machines are coming from Bogda. I've seen videos and can only cringe. In 3 weeks another drill is coming from Unique this one with 16 spindles! Again I have seen videos and can only cringe.

    I guess it is good that I have a huge skill set and what looks like job security.

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    Quote Originally Posted by garyhlucas View Post
    So I started a new job where my predecessor convinced the boss to buy some chinese automation because it was so cheap. He is gone and I get to make it work. First machine is a 2 axis CNC drill with 5 spindles configured as 3 tools on pneumatically operated slides on a Servo Z axis. This machine is 6 months old and was delivered with Weihong CNC controller running on chinese PC running a chinese version of Windows XP. Everything Windows related except the name of two folders and two files is in chinese. My predecessor knew nothing about CNC, wrote a drilling program for 104 holes using G0 and G1 only!



    The plastic pipes we need to drill are held in 8 self centering clamps and I find out none are at the same height, in a straight line, centered on the spindles, and all the mounting holes are drilled in the wrong places and they filed out the holes to slots. One spindle is supposed to cut a flat and the flat is cupped because the spindle is tilted badly. Fixing it requires moving all the bolt hole in the mounting plate. All the pneumatic fittings leak like crazy because they tried to use teflon tape on O-ring face fittings.

    I get it running better and the X axis rack gear servo motor plate falls off and shears off the X limit sensor. The bolts have just a couple of threads engaged. In fixing it I discover that the air valves are dangling on hoses up in the spindle and wires are just twisted together and taped. We pull the servo with precision gear reducer and the drive gear apparently had been cut off another shaft with an angle grinder at about a 30 degree angle and through one setscrew hole. They then pounded the gear onto the gear reducer without bothering to even deburr the grinder cut. Half the linear slide bearings go off the end of the rails at one end of travel. The machine is slow because they used one VFD with contactors on the output so they have to stop the spindles completely before switching. No safety limits anywhere. Forget to turn on air, lose air, or a bad valve the machine will simply smash all the tools and spindles.

    If you think it was built to a price, it wasn't. They could have charged us double and delivered a well built machine and we would have been thrilled. They are called the Unique Drill Machine company, I think because no two parts on this machine are alike!

    Second machine is a punch press punching a series of slots in long plastic plates. Two weeks ago one of the four guide posts simply broke off and upon taking it apart the ground plates were ground with a hand grinder and nothing was straight or square so all the shafts and bearings were completely wasted. We had the plates ground and new shafts made correctly. This past week the servo driving a conveyor sheared off the gear reducer shaft because the key was the wrong size. we took the other one apart to inspect it and found it ready to fail as well. This was from another company called Bogda, and again if it cost twice as much and was correctly built they would have been thrilled.

    In another week two cutting machines are coming from Bogda. I've seen videos and can only cringe. In 3 weeks another drill is coming from Unique this one with 16 spindles! Again I have seen videos and can only cringe.

    I guess it is good that I have a huge skill set and what looks like job security.
    I asked this same question previously.. years ago IIRC...

    What machine tools do the Chinese manufactures use .

    Is everything "Khyber Pass Specials"?

    Not PRC output,, CCP ?

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    I think it time for the job want ads! When you start with junk, you wind up with junk. I doubt seriously you will ever get those machines to work properly.

    Tom

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    I did have some exposure to chinese made machines when a previous employer bought a cnc grinder, when it arrived everything was moved to get it into place.
    Then it was levelled and powered up.

    Nothing works as it should it was a dodo dead as a duck.

    The factory who sold it wiped there hands of it and a local tech who looked at the control system, which was a Siemens one, said it was a special one for the chinese market and he could not fix it.
    It is a wonder how they make things over there, or they just send the rubbish overseas to buyers and don't worry about repeat business.

    Tell the boss not to waste his money on the rubbish.

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    All fair enough and real enough. And in a couple of side ventures I've seen the old adage that if you want to buy materials from the PRC, you have to have inspectors on the ground there to approve decline shipments - or you will be shipped junk - is totally true.

    BUT

    I have a chinese made laser etching machine, which I've used only a little bit, but which so far, works totally fine. Out of the box it works totally fine. No signs of any of the BS Gary describes in the OP.

    Would be nice to have some kind of scanner that showed "cheap crap" vs "respectable product" - regardless of where applied.

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    I have already convinced my boss to let me build a new PLC based control package for the drill machine. I had already gotten the cycle time down from 3 minutes to 1 minute and the new controls will be easier, safer and allow automation of loading and unloading while reducing the cycle time to 45 seconds. I also got him to get the second machine with no controls and the PLC code I am writing will run that machine too. Not to mention I found a cheaper way to wire the power to it saving $20k.

    We need a replacement for a grooving machine too. They built one from 2 chinese lathes but it didn’t work so I am designing a new one that will change sizes by recipe and auto-load right off the extruder and unload the finished part into a bin. I have figured out how to feed the parts from the bin into the drill and then into a final bin as well.

    Pretty sure they are happy with my work. First time in my career working a 37.5 hour week!

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    whenever I hear "Chinese Automation" I can't help think of this

    YouTube

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    That video was famous (infamous) and almost from the start brought out commentary that even with chinese labor rates of the time, it was not actually competitive with a normal strip fed progressive stamping setup. I wonder if that factory can even still exist in China, let alone the 1st world.

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    Thread hijack warning . . . this kind of story is becoming more and more frequent with Chinese supplied manufacturing equipment. We won’t even entertain working on it for a number of reasons. And what follows is the leading reason why I won’t touch Chinese manufactured machines.

    I don’t know that this is the case for your equipment, but what you describe is increasingly common with products made in Chinese vocational training centers which are really nothing more than re-education prisons for political dissidents. The workers in these factories are incarcerated for not toeing the communist line and the products sold are brokered through Chinese distributors to the world market. This in no way represents the level of quality that other Chinese manufacturers are capable of.

    I have a good friend who just left a job where he headed up international investigations for “consumer products supply chain security” for US companies like Nike and Walmart to ensure that products made overseas did not use slave labor. His descriptions of the various types of vocational training centers and the efforts they undertake to market manufacturing services around the world are sickening. Workers are blood typed, health checked, and those who don’t “conform” to the training are used as organ donors. This goes for centers that make everyday products like Christmas lights and ornaments to factories that produce tools and machines.

    Somehow this kind of thing needs to see the light of day such that the world’s consumers of cheap goods can no longer turn a blind eye to the depraved actions of the Chinese government that seeks to squelch any resistance to the party line.

    Chinese dissidents are being executed for their organs

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    I just have to ask if one has never seen built in the USA automation just as junk and wrong.
    Places like motion a serious system integrator but I have seen a lot of USA built pure shit and been asked to fix or patch it.
    I can not patch or fix it cheap. Deep work needed.
    Total not knowing anything during the build.
    You look and what was done mechanically, control and the code and just shake your head.
    This designed, built and coded all in the USA.
    Bob

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    Incompetence knows no geographic bounds.

    And general evilness by oppressive governments (or governments in general) is, sadly, neither new nor rare.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    I just have to ask if one has never seen built in the USA automation just as junk and wrong.
    Places like motion a serious system integrator but I have seen a lot of USA built pure shit and been asked to fix or patch it.
    I can not patch or fix it cheap. Deep work needed.
    Total not knowing anything during the build.
    You look and what was done mechanically, control and the code and just shake your head.
    This designed, built and coded all in the USA.
    Bob
    No doubt project awarded to the lowest bidder. I can’t tell you how many times I have met with the customer and they explain what they want done AND how to do it . . . and invariably I question the wisdom of their suggestion and point out a few concerns and then the next vendor comes in and gives a pitch . . . “Oh yeah, that’s a great idea they say, piece of cake, we can knock that out for you”.

    We get feedback that we didn’t seem confident enough and they selected the other vendor . . . sorry.

    9 months later we get “the call” . . . “Can you please come help us? We have fired the other integrator, and spent all our money, and we are still out of production and really need to get this sorted out”. And they need us RIGHT NOW . . . never mind we have paying customers whose projects are scheduled, and requiring our full attention to keep on track.

    Our turn to say “sorry” we can get started on a T&M basis in a month or so.

    I have to admit, this has gotten us some dedicated customers who now basically give us no bid contracts because they know we won’t screw up their ability to schedule reliable down time for an upgrade and the machine will come back online without fail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    I just have to ask if one has never seen built in the USA automation just as junk and wrong.
    Places like motion a serious system integrator but I have seen a lot of USA built pure shit and been asked to fix or patch it.
    I can not patch or fix it cheap. Deep work needed.
    Total not knowing anything during the build.
    You look and what was done mechanically, control and the code and just shake your head.
    This designed, built and coded all in the USA.
    Bob
    I used to work for a company that built junk. When I saw what we were shipping to customers I was determined to do better. We had an order for six machines. First one left just as I was hired. Second one left shortly there after. Customer was really pissed and I made improvements on #3, lots more on #4, and they asked my boss to allow me to do final inspection on the last two without them coming for a visit. After the last one shipped they paid us to have me go out and do training on how to get the first couple up to snuff.

    However the next machine was really something. We got an order for a machine we had built 3 times before for the same customer. I looked at the drawings and could see that the design was really bad, and the customer confirmed they pretty much rebuilt parts of the machine on arrival. I was really determined to do a better job. So I redesigned the bad parts and we shipped the machine right on time. I was told that was the first time that had ever happened. 3 months go by and we heard nothing so I called the customer. He was quiet for a moment and then told me the first machine was 2 months late, the second 4 months and the 3rd over 6 months late! So he had given us an order a YEAR early, and we delivered by the contract date!

    The secret is that someone has to actually care enough to do it right.

    Today two more chinese machines arrived. Holy crap, they REALLY just don't give a crap!

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    Quote Originally Posted by motion guru View Post
    We get feedback that we didn’t seem confident enough and they selected the other vendor . . . sorry.

    9 months later we get “the call” . . . “Can you please come help us? We have fired the other integrator, and spent all our money, and we are still out of production and really need to get this sorted out”.
    I used to work for Sequent Computer Systems, not a household name because they sold $million machines in the 1980's and 1990's to run large corporate databases. Sequent was frequently asked to come in for "second surgery" situations like that. Sequent's CEO once estimated that our customers could collectively have saved the better part of a billion US$ if they had gone with Sequent in the first place.

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    I worked as a contract tooling engineer for an OEM of large towing and recovery vehicles, name withheld but you've all seen them on the highways. They purchased components from the Chinese that they knew would be crap, hoping the cost savings would offset the batch percentage of failed components and throwing the problem "over the wall" for another department to deal with. To design the welding fixtures/tooling I would have to review the CAD models before starting my work. All too often there would be interference/overlap in components, excessive welding gaps, and absurd expectations for formed plate steel. I once brought a design to the original engineer for revising a component that was way out of spec to meet the newly mandated directive to meet mil-spec assembly codes we should have been following all along. He brought it barely within assembly spec, component tolerance would likely fail the assembly on the floor. It could have been a much better revision to the component but he didn't want to take the extra 20 minutes to do so out of sheer laziness. Sometimes a crap product starts in the design, purchasing weighs in, and it becomes a group effort with everybody else either contributing to or fighting with bad decisions that are both domestic and imported. Manufacturing in the 21st century.


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