Position Sensing Cable Reels

October 25, 2016

As part of our continuous effort to offer customers new, unique components that add value to our products and consumer applications, UEA now offers magnetic drive, or non-contact rotary encoders, as an option over the more standard shaft or hollow shaft-driven optical encoders.

Like our slip rings and cable reels, these encoders offer a variety of options to meet a multitude of needs. Their compact, robust design is rated up to IP69K, with other industry specific housing designs available. They can come in either incremental or absolute, depending on your sensory output needs. Output languages include connections to the encoder, and can be made through ‘flying leads’, an M8 or M12 connector, or let UEA attach a specific connector for you. In some models, the connector-exit from the encoder can be specified from bottom, top, side or back exit, which allows for greater freedom in wire routing and possible reduction in interference issues when working within a given design.

One benefit of the non-contact rotary sensors over their shaft driven counterparts is that they are typically smaller in size. This allows them to be mounted in tight quarters or areas where a traditional contact rotary sensor may not have fit. Using them in conjunction with our slip ring assemblies and hydro-electric combinations, which include a hydraulic swivel and slip ring, has allowed UEA to decrease the overall package size, adding value to customers with size constraint issues. Also, since there is no need to drive a shaft, the mounting options increase as the magnet only needs to be placed over the center of rotation in relation to the encoder itself. Multiple, often costly, bearing surfaces are no longer needed to keep the center shaft drive components as centered as possible.


If you have an application where location sensing may be needed or if you would like more information on non-contact rotary encoders please visit our website or give us a call and we can answer your questions and go over your options.

Ryan Tradel
Design Tech. – Engineering

How Long does it Take to Manufacture a Slip Ring?

October 18, 2016

At UEA, a common question we hear is, “How long does it take to manufacture a slip ring?”  That’s actually a difficult question to answer.  Since UEA manufactures custom slip rings, the range of manufacturing time can fluctuate greatly.

There are a lot of factors that go into the manufacturing time of slip rings.  First is the overall design of the slip ring assembly.  If it includes several new parts custom to the specific design, it will lengthen the process.   If the slip ring needed is very similar to something UEA has already built, the amount of engineering time is greatly reduced and the slip ring will get to the manufacturing floor quicker.  Another contributing factor can be the required purchased parts.  Some customers require very specific cables, connectors, encoders, etc., and these parts can have lead times of several weeks, which can extend manufacturing times.

One other contributor to lead time is outside processes, such as anodizing.  In some cases we have to machine aluminum parts and then send them out for an anodize process that can take weeks.  Obviously this will add to the standard time it takes to manufacture as our process cannot start until the parts are received.

In the event that a ring has already been designed and there is no long lead time purchased parts, UEA can generally build a ring in 2 weeks or less depending on the production schedule and if the purchased parts are on hand.  Below are a couple examples of rings that would have completely different manufacturing times required to build.   Again, this is a very design-specific related question that will greatly depend on the customers’ requirements.  However, when the requirements are determined, UEA can give an accurate lead time.

Interested in learning more about how slip rings work? Check out our recent blog to find out more.

production time 1production time 2

Jesse Shearer
Sr. Application/Design Engineer


ISO 9001:2015

October 11, 2016

In every quality focused organization, one of the hot topics is the transition to ISO 9001:2015 from ISO 9001:2008. UEA is certainly no exception. There are many questions about this new standard. UEA is constantly striving to stay up to date with the latest standard. Hopefully this brief blog can help answer some of the questions about this new standard.

ISO has developed a new structure to be utilized by the various ISO management system standards moving forward.  This structure will allow more consistency and better alignment across management system areas such as quality and environmental.  The new structure is set up with 10 clauses vs. the 8 clauses in ISO 9001:2008.  There is no requirement to have organizations re-number any documents.

Risk Based Thinking is a new concept in ISO 9001:2015. The inclusion of risk and related topics (e.g. opportunities, consequences, and controls) is likely the most-discussed change.  For example, “Actions to address risks and opportunities” can be found in section 6, and evidence of risk can also be see in requirements for the QMS and its processes (4.4), Customer focus (5.1.2), and Management review (9.3).  Related references to impacts, consequences, controls, etc. can be found in virtually every section of ISO 9001:2015 requirements.  The term “Risk-Based Thinking” has been coined to help the concept of risk pervade throughout the QMS, and risk has also been incorporated into the process approach model.

Here are some other notable changes that can be found in the newest version:

  • 4: Context of the organization clauses -include determination of external and internal issues relevant to the organization’s purpose and strategic direction; more towards the “business management system” than a “quality management system”.
  • 5: Leadership clauses – In effect replace “top management” clauses with some enhancements on commitments including accountability, compatibility, actions and effectiveness.
  • 1.6: Organizational knowledge – New concept of determining necessary knowledge for operation of processes and conformity of products and services.
  • 5: Documented information – Essentially combines requirements for documented procedures and records into one section with similar treatment.
  • 4: Externally provided products and services – Incorporates requirements of purchasing and outsourcing into one; recognizing that today’s organizations get services and materials from more than traditional purchasing arrangements, but in essence the concerns and controls are similar, regardless of the path these external products and service come from.


Some specific requirements have been dropped from ISO 9001: 2008. ISO 9001:2015 may not be as prescriptive in requiring certain documents or specific roles.

  • Quality Manual – not specifically required, nor mandated as to its content.
  • Documented Procedures – none specifically required, but left to the organization’s determination and needs (4.4, 7.5.1).
  • Management Representative – not specifically called out as an individual having the sole responsibility and authority for the QMS; now considered part and parcel of the organization’s leadership and top management (5.1.1, 5.3).
  • Preventive Action – not a specific clause/record moving forward, but effectively usurped by the “Risk-Based Thinking” to be applied throughout the QMS.


For more quality related information from UEA, check out our recent blog on incoming inspections.

Dhaivat Patel
Quality Engineer


Design, Build, and Test – The UEA Way

October 4, 2016

2017 will be the year upon which we look back and say this was the breakout year for our hydraulic swivel product line.  Rather than buy a current manufacturer, we started from square one.  We have invested millions of dollars to be able to say we design, build, and test to verify, that the UEA hydraulic swivel is one of the best designs on the market.  We have had numerous internal conversations as to whether this was the correct course of action.

Because we have been the new kid on the block, we sought out some of the most severe applications to prove our design.  That has been a successful model.  We can show our potential customers that if we can perform in these conditions, we will perform in yours and exceed your expectations.  The attainment of new larger volume customers will allow us to more fully utilize our full production capabilities.  With that being said, we still have substantial building assets to dedicate to this product line.

Even though our path made a return on our investment – a longer term goal than anticipated, I feel we made the right choice.  We have not had to blend different corporate cultures, software, production techniques, etc. together.  We also have a design that is strictly a UEA design with no previous baggage.  Whichever direction you decide, it’s still challenging!

Mark Hanawalt

Are We There Yet? Version 2.0

September 29, 2016

My last entry on this topic had us awaiting the arrival of the new NT5400 series Mori-Seki to our newly expanded hydraulic swivel machine shop area.

The truck arrived on a cold snowy day, 120 feet long, sporting 12 axles and a pilot car.  Local police assisted in traffic control on State Highway 3 as the driver and riggers dismantled the truck as necessary while sitting in the middle turn lane. This was required to make it possible to turn onto the two lane street that leads to our North Plant.

nt5400 1

At the more manageable length of 90 feet the rest of the unloading could be done inside the building.

nt5400 2

And once unloaded and uncrated, the NT5400 was skated into its position on the line.

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nt5400 4

In just a few weeks the setup alignment, accuracy checks and operator training were completed and the NT5400 was fully tooled, online and in production.

With this accomplished, the push was on to get the NT6600 moved into its new home.

nt5400 5

After a few days of teardown and prep, the riggers started plating the floor.  The sheer mass of this machine on the steel rollers of the skates would not be supported by the bare concrete.

nt5400 6

It took most of the day to make the nearly 200 feet journey across the floor, with a full 180 degree swing by the end.

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The next 6 weeks were spent setting a rough level, settling, releveling, adjusting alignment, releveling and so on until it was back into complete original factory accuracy specification.

nt5400 9

Now with both NT series Mori-Seiki machines in place and in production, the new addition looks a lot more like the destination we had in mind.  We now have ample capacity to meet the hydraulic swivel demands of our customers for the time being.

But, this is just a waypoint, we still aren’t there yet. To learn about the custom hydraulic swivel process visit our blog.

Kent Davis
Senior Engineer