5 Controls-Based Causes of Scrap

Often, when people think about causes of scrap, they think about something like a damaged fixture, or worn-out tooling.

Those examples are both mechanical issues, and can contribute to a large amount of scrap being generated in a system. Now the real question is, are there any other areas that can contribute to scrap?

The answer is yes, and one of those main areas is on the controls side of the system. While frequently overlooked, controls related scrap can start as soon as a system is installed.  Below are 5 sources of scrap and how they can be solved with controls solutions.


Certain devices, like many analog sensors, can be very sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity and other weather conditions. Not using a sensor in its correct environment can lead to inconsistencies in the feedback generated by the device.

Having the right type of device for the job is important, but making sure that the device is able to work accurately in your environment is crucial.

Electrical Noise

Electrical noise occurs when there are unwanted disturbances in an electrical signal. This can become a major issue, especially with analog signals and cause a system to react in un-intended ways.

Using the correct type of cable and shielding can help to reduce the electrical noise created in the system. It is important to not only look at the signal cables, but the communication and power cables as well.

Outdated Programming

Over the years, and sometimes even months, the conditions can change in a system. Maybe product was sourced from a new supplier, or a whole new product type was added to the line. It may seem more appropriate to make a series of quick patches to get the system back up and running, but you need to also look at the long-term implications.

Properly updating software for new changes and added complexity can help reduce the amount of time spent on adjusting just to make things work. When qualifying the added expense of the software updates, make sure to include the reduction of scrap in the ROI.

Inconsistent Hardware Controls

A lot of hardware in a system can have some degree of variability such as the speed of a motor, the pressure for a pneumatic line, or the amount of product dispensed per cycle. Improperly monitoring or controlling vital pieces of hardware can greatly increase scrap, especially between multiple shifts and newly trained operators.

Recipes are a great way to collect setpoints that can be used to drive the automation. With the added ability to save changes and load different recipes, you can reduce the amount of scrap between product changes.

Tension Control

Variations in the tension of your product can lead to rips, wrinkles, and/or printing issues. Not only can this lead to an increase in scrap, but also downtime to get the line back up and running.

Consider adding in one or more tension zones including a load cell or a dancer to gain greater control of your product and reduce the amount of scrap created. Making any adjustments to a tension process can be a trying process and, in most cases, it is beneficial to seek expert opinions on the subject.


EDC can help you diagnose your causes of scrap and create a solution to provide you with a more efficient process. For more information, contact us.