How can plastic machine builders keep pace with the challenges of increasing machine complexity?

Added: 17th October 2019 by Siemens

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The degree of automation in the production lines of the plastics industry is rising rapidly: In the course of digitisation, automation and robotics, we are seeing more and more production cells that, networked with injection moulding machines, produce complex and high-quality plastic products. At #K-show 2019 we will show you how machine builders can keep pace with the challenges of increasing machine complexity.

I am looking forward to giving you some insights in advance: in the interview with Igor Pfeifer, Applications Engineer at Siemens.

Igor, what is our offer for machine builders and machine operators who, in addition to the above-mentioned challenges, also want maximum flexibility in their production cell and a fast changeover between different product batches?

Igor Yes, of course. Our customers want a higher return on investment and investment security. Our offer is a solution with focus on the handling of injection molding parts, as this is the heart of every cell automation system. It is based on our SIMATIC controller family. The core of this solution is the intuitive user interface, which provides machine operators with maximum flexibility. Designed for the SIMATIC Mobile Panel, the operator can program the take-out handling from the HMI without any engineering software. In this way, the OEM doesn’t need a PLC experts on site, he simply changes the program in the HMI editor.

That sounds good. But do the operators have to learn a special programming language in order to put the handling machine into operation?

Igor Not really. The basic program setup can be done with the integrated commissioning assistant. During the creation of the program, the assistant guides you through the steps of a sampling cycle. Machine operators can teach the points for the movement commands with the mobile panel or insert them via a point table. After a dry run, the program including the handshake with the injection molding machine, the gripper commands or the pneumatic rotary axes, is set up. From there the operator can easily enter or configure additional commands if needed.

That sounds like high user-friendly. But what do we offer to increase the flexibility of the production cell with this solution?

Igor As any automation task can be implemented in the SIMATIC controller, the solution also enables the integration of other modules such as conveyor technology, radio frequency identification (RFID), quality control or standard industrial robots. The user interface for programming the machine remains unchanged. If different products are manufactured in the injection molding machine, product-specific programs can also be stored and downloaded from a USB stick via the mobile panel.

And I would like to mention another highlight of our SIMATIC family, which is delivered with the SIMATIC technology controller: This controller enables path interpolation for different kinematic types. The take-out handling can not only be used for simple removal, but also for processing the product. The operator can program the picker to follow a defined path. This allows the removal handling to be integrated into downstream processing steps, especially during long injection processes, and reduces the machine's space requirements. We will present this solution at the upcoming #K-show in October 2019 in Düsseldorf at a #Digital Twin. 

Igor Mathias, at this point please also mention how machine operators benefit most from digitisation in terms of machine maintenance and service; keywords OPC UA, SCADA and cloud systems.

With the integrated OPC UA server, you can access all relevant machine and service data via a manufacturer-independent interface. The data can be used by any SCADA, MES or cloud system. We show this with our Siemens cloud MindSphere and use the service and performance data in our Siemens MindSphere app SIMATIC Machine Monitor. If you would like to know more about this topic, please visit us at the upcoming #K-show in Düsseldorf.

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