PC-based control for plastics machines
PC-based control lowers consumption of raw materials
Husky Injection Molding Systems, Canada
PC-based control becomes the standard for sheet extrusion applications
Graham Engineering, Pennsylvania, USA
Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG
Husky Injection Molding Systems, Canada
Graham Engineering, Pennsylvania, USA
Daily life without plastic products is no longer conceivable and demand continues to rise. Even the ongoing discussions about resource conservation and sustainability have not initiated a U-turn here, with plastics processing continuing to gain in importance globally. However, demands for the sustainable production of plastics and a circular economy are increasingly becoming drivers of innovative technologies and processes in the industry. The requirements for plastics machines with regard to high product quality and productivity, but at the same time with reduced resource consumption, are optimally met with innovative control technology from Beckhoff. Whether in the use of high-precision drive technology for production of very thin films or in the minimization of material consumption by means of ultra-precise switching over to holding pressure during injection – our controller for plastics machines optimizes all processes.
Our open PC-based control technology offers comprehensive system solutions in various performance classes for all areas of plastics machine automation. Our control system is based on a universal hardware and software platform: It comprises an extensive portfolio of industrial PCs, EtherCAT as a fast communication system, the decentralized I/O modules, scalable drive technology components, and TwinCAT automation software. The latter serves as a software platform for engineering, runtime, and the diagnosis of all control functions. The range of applications in PC-based control technology extends from injection molding, blow molding, extrusion technology, and additive manufacturing to the integration of handling, production cells, and post-processing. Since all control functions are replicated in software, even complex application requirements can be implemented with little engineering effort.
From individual components to the complete solution, the user benefits from Beckhoff’s comprehensive expertise in plastics processing. Machine manufacturers can contribute their own process know-how – regardless of whether new machine series or the retrofitting of existing machines is concerned. In addition, open hardware and software interfaces offer machine manufacturers high degrees of freedom in machine construction. They facilitate integration of numerous different devices, including devices from third-party manufacturers. As a driver for the development of open, compatible automation interfaces, we have supported the common industry communication standards according to Euromap and OPC UA from the very beginning. Our control platform thus enables the realization of Industrie 4.0 concepts for machine-to-machine communication or for data processing and analysis in master computer systems or in the cloud. As an active participant in the standardization and technology committees of the VDMA and Euromap, Beckhoff has been one of the drivers of the OPC UA-based technologies for many years. New industry standards are thus incorporated promptly into our products.
With the TwinCAT 3 Plastic Framework, we offer a modular software solution for the control of plastics machines that minimizes development effort and maintains the open nature of Beckhoff architecture. The TwinCAT 3 Plastic Framework brings together our many years of expertise in plastics, seamlessly integrating important industry-specific functions into the established TwinCAT environment. As a result, plastics machines can be programmed, visualized, and controlled on a single platform.
The TwinCAT 3 Plastic Framework contains three software libraries: TF8540 enables comprehensive software-based temperature control in plastics processing. TF8560 is a technology package that provides all the components for controlling motion functions in plastics machines. TF8550 is an HMI package specially developed for the plastics industry that enables the visualization of typical processes with minimal engineering effort and integrates seamlessly into the other technology packages.
Integrated, application-specific templates and sample code for various plastics applications facilitate project planning and programming, and are made available free of charge via the TwinCAT 3 Plastic Application. Of course, existing templates can also be used and your own process expertise can be integrated.
TF8540: Plastic Processing Framework
TF8560: Plastic Technology Functions
TF8550: Plastic HMI Framework
As a major supporter of the OPC UA organization, we are committed to open standards and provide corresponding interfaces in our control system as standard. Our customers therefore benefit from a particularly high level of interoperability. We are actively involved in the Euromap Companion Specifications for the plastics industry and can therefore promptly integrate new specifications into our products.
PC-based control enables IoT scenarios to be implemented easily and safely. Open interfaces, in conjunction with support for all common fieldbus systems and software protocols, enable seamless communication from the field level to the cloud. The TwinCAT IoT software library was developed for secure communication between the machine control system and cloud-based services.
The TwinCAT Analytics software library aggregates process data synchronously with the machine cycle. The stored data can be evaluated with appropriate analysis tools to derive all the necessary information about the processing operation and the machine condition in order to optimize production efficiency and energy consumption. TwinCAT Cloud Engineering also allows existing TwinCAT Engineering and Runtime products to be instantiated and used directly in the cloud.
As a specialist in PC-based control, we offer integrated control solutions for all important plastics manufacturing processes. Based on our many years of practical experience, we have developed a deep understanding of the requirements of plastics machine manufacturers. With our high level of solutions expertise and creativity, we help to make plastics machines and plants more productive.
We have been a development partner for the “first choice” companies in injection molding and blow molding technology for many years. EtherCAT, the fast communication system that we developed, is now virtually considered a standard in the plastics industry. The stringent demands of high-performance injection molding machines were a significant motivation for us to develop XFC (eXtreme Fast Control), an extremely high-performance control technology based on EtherCAT. The development of EtherCAT plug-in modules for large-volume applications was also driven by the requirements of the mass market of injection molding machines.
The TwinCAT 3 Plastic Framework brings together all our expertise in plastics, seamlessly integrating important industry-specific control functions into the TwinCAT environment. The open interfaces also allow users to incorporate their own process expertise into the software and to program machines individually according to customer requirements.
Open automation technology with EtherCAT: ideally suited for injection molding machines
Open automation technology: minimizes the energy consumption of electric blow molding machines
Open automation technology with fieldbus diversity: ideally suited for extrusion lines
Open automation technology with EtherCAT: perfectly suited to the additive manufacturing of plastic parts
Open automation technology with EtherCAT: perfectly suited to the handling of plastic parts
Open automation technology with Euromap interfaces for production cells
PC-based control optimizes the post-processing and further processing of plastic parts