Part 1 of a series on optimizing control systems.
By Bruce Adams
Engel's inject 4.0 portfolio links networked maintenance and production-tracking programs to the injection molding machine itself. At the center of it is the CC300 controller, which the company recently updated with tutorials and new navigation. Engel touts five main benefits of the controller: ergonomics, usability, personalization, integration and assistance for the operator during production.
“Our CC300 controller can be personalized similar to a smartphone,” said Hannes Fritz, head of product management controls. “If you want to change the screen page, in the past you had to click four times on the screen. Now, you swipe from side to side like on a mobile phone. We have optimized the navigation system so the operator can choose and select screen pages and store them for operating the machine. It is not necessary to know all the details of the machine to operate the control.”
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The controller helps the operator during four key steps: starting production, running production, stopping the machine and changing the mold. The controller provides messages and checklists for performing each step.
Engel is working to combine processing know-how with machine learning. For example, it recently developed iQ process observer, a new assistance system previewed at K2019 that is in the prototype stage and will be launched in a pilot program next year. It uses process data to find the right settings and to make the process transparent to the operator, and to compensate for process fluctuations. Results from the iQ process observer’s analysis of plasticizing, injection, cooling and demolding are immediately visible in an easy-to-understand format on both the CC300 control unit and the Engel e-connect customer portal. The feature also sends messages directly to the controller.
“We are giving an overview of what is going on with the machine and also with the system,” said Paul Kapeller, head of product management digital solutions. “It tries to support the process engineer with his main question, ‘How stable is the process now?’ Or, ‘If I change one parameter, what is the effect on the rest of the process on my machine?’ But also in the long run. If I set a process the first time, after months or years, I want to know if there are any long-term changes in the machine, mold or material behavior. For example, what is the material behavior? These questions are answered by the iQ process observer.”
A feature called process messages is planned for the iQ process observer.
iQ process observer will use artificial intelligence with its process messages.
“The cool thing is we use the visualization at the CC300 for the people at the machine, but we also centrally visualize the data and the insights in our customer portal, e-connect,” Kapeller said. “From the office or anywhere across the globe, customers can look to see if anything has happened to the process. Because of the architecture behind it, it is always up to date. Every time we have new insights that can benefit the customer, he will get them with updates that we remotely install. Every time a new development is made, the customer will benefit from it directly without any specific machine updates.”
Bruce Adams, senior staff reporter
Engel Machinery Inc., York, Pa., 717-764-6818, www.engelglobal.com