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
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 plastics industry.
The requirements for plastics machines with regard to high product quality and productivity, but at the same time with reduced resource consumption and high energy efficiency, 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. The basic principle is based on a powerful Industrial PC, a high-performance fieldbus connection with the connected peripheral devices for sensors and actuators, dynamic drive components, and the software for engineering and real-time control. The TwinCAT automation software, the “brain” of the machine, bundles all necessary functionalities such as PLC, motion control, robotics, measurement technology, image processing, communication, IoT functions, and the HMI operating software into a single package. 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.
The Beckhoff Industrial PCs and Embedded PC series feature Intel processors of the latest generation and performance classes. The TwinCAT 3 automation software is optimally designed to use the multi-core architecture and enables full use of the performance of the CPU cores: the machine functions can be distributed to different cores and processed in parallel, so that, for example, the visualization and the actual machine control can be distributed in parallel to two cores.
Beckhoff has been a development partner for the “first choice” companies in injection molding and blow molding technology for many years. EtherCAT, the fast communication system developed by Beckhoff, is now virtually considered a standard in the plastics industry. The strict demands of high-performance injection molding machines were a great 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. Many years of experience, for example, in hydraulic drive technology or temperature control, led to the development of industry-specific engineering platforms.
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, Beckhoff has 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.
The TwinCAT Plastic Application Components bundle Beckhoff‘s many years of plastics expertise in a software library that covers the basic production processes in the plastics industry. The proven TwinCAT Motion Control Supplements are integrated into technology modules for plastics machines. Customers can control and parameterize their machine components, such as the clamping unit, by function block call.
With the innovative programming concept of object orientation, development time as well as maintenance and support costs for the control software are reduced. The data flow between PLC and HMI is combined in objects and represents the machine components with their respective properties. The principle of inheritance of object properties facilitates reusability of software modules. In addition, it gives machine builders the opportunity to incorporate their own process expertise and to program their machines individually or rather according to customer-specific requirements.
Based on practical experience a sequence interpreter has also been integrated. This enables machine sequences to be programmed via the graphical user interface without the need for specific programming skills. The manifold applications that make up the injection molding process call for powerful core-pulling programs. These are covered by the TwinCAT Plastic Application Components in the form of preconfigured core-pulling sequences.
As a specialist in PC-based control concepts, Beckhoff offers 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 solution competence and creativity, we help to make plastics machines and plants more productive.
Beckhoff has incorporated its accumulated know-how in servo-electrical and hydraulic drive technology into the TwinCAT Plastic Application Components software package, which covers the fundamental production processes in the plastics industry. The users leverage proven functions and save development time. The open interfaces also allow them to incorporate their own process know-how into the software and to program their machine individually, according to customer requirements.
As a major supporter of the OPC UA organization, Beckhoff has integrated OPC UA interfaces as standard into its controllers for plastics machines. Various OPC UA models, as standardized for the plastics industry in the Euromap Companion Specifications, have already been built-in by Beckhoff; new specifications are continually being implemented. The Euromap 77 interface is available for injection molding machines and the Euromap 84 for extrusion systems for communication with master computers and for data transmission into the cloud. Beckhoff has developed the TwinCAT IoT software library for secure communication between the machine controller and cloud-based services. It uses standardized protocols for the cloud communication and can thus also integrate OPC UA-compatible mechanisms.
Process data are aggregated synchronously with the machine cycle via the TwinCAT Analytics software. Complete data recording provides the basis for valid analyses. As a graphic tool, TwinCAT Scope offers an extensive range of presentation options and thus facilitates the analysis: Plastics processors can use the data representation to analyse and rectify quality problems and reduced productivity due to faulty machine functions. Machine manufacturers can identify and correct mechanical problems and software errors. Through the analysis of all the data from a large number of identical types of machine by means of TwinCAT Condition Monitoring, signs of wear in pumps or gears, for example, can be determined at an early stage by establishing a relationship with the occurrence of certain frequency spectrums.
With the Plastic Application Components, typical industry requirements such as the Euromap Companion Specifications or the industry standard Quality Trace can be mapped on the basis of the TwinCAT Supplements. The TwinCAT HMI provides the user with a location- independent visualization: with an identical user interface he can visualize and analyse the process values that are stored locally on the machine or centrally in the cloud. However, Beckhoff technology also supports the retrofitting of existing machines and plants. Various hardware and software products are available for this, such as the ultra-compact C6015 Industrial PC with OPC UA interface, which can be retrofitted into an existing control cabinet, thus enabling a cloud connection. Depending on the application, this system can also be used as an edge device for the pre-processing, compression and transmission of data. The IoT Bus Coupler is available for the direct acquisition of digital or analog process values. It is particularly suitable for the retrofitting of machines and enables the uncomplicated transmission of data to higher-level systems via cloud protocol using a preconfigured network access.
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