Motion control: Packaging machine builder saves with servo system, controls upgrade

Siemens Simotion Shaftless Drive Standard software helps machine builder gain 50% savings on components and 30% savings on control cabinet footprint with comparable performance.

By Renee Robbins April 8, 2010
This Hycorr rotary die-cutter, shown with four print stations, dwell section and die-cut section, is in use at a major supplier to the corrugated and packaging market segments.

Fred Harrison, president of Hycorr Machine Corp., has always believed in being first. Never one to rest on his laurels, the Kalamazoo, MI builder of corrugated boxmaking machinery recently put his engineering team on the task of improving the overall controls package on the company’s line of rotary die-cutter machines. In particular, the servo system and controls package needed upgrading with newer technology. The previous technology functioned properly, but Hycorr engineers sought greater cost containment and a reduced footprint, with no loss of performance.

After considerable research, and based on the direct experience of a recently hired engineer, Hycorr began its investigation of a totally new system, one that would not only reduce servo drive system and related energy costs, but also integrate both the programmable logic controller (PLC) and human-machine interface (HMI) functions.

Hycorr’s electrical engineer, Mike Walter explains: "We have been building servo driven rotary die-cutters for over 10 years. We wanted to look at a new system for a series of machines that were being built for new customers. After the first price pass, we knew we needed to continue our talks with Siemens."

Servo drives control all machine functions.

The Siemens package under consideration included servo motors, Sinamics S120 servo drives, and a Simotion D motion controller with PLC functionality. "At first, we were only considering this new system for the motion platform," Walter says. "We needed a servo system that would eliminate some gears and maintain the tight tolerances our customers expected for printing and diecutting. We really needed a system with built-in rotary motion functionality."

About Hycorr Machine Corp.

Hycorr produces rotary die-cutters, flexo folder gluers and stacker systems in service to the paperboard industry, especially independent box makers of corrugated containers.

Hycorr Machine Corp. has a competitive, can-do spirit reflected in the company’s many firsts: Hycorr was the first U.S. rotary die-cutter to introduce an integrated stacker, the first U.S. builder to introduce the reverse angle doctor blade on rotary die-cutters and the first builder in the world to offer an automatic cutting-anvil speed compensator, Auto-CompTM, which was later joined by Hycorr inventions of a quick-change anilox roll system and modular dwell section with inter-station dryers. All these innovations to the industry were achieved in the first 15 years of operation for this company, founded by Fred Harrison in 1985.

Siemens provided the Simotion Shaftless Drive Standard software (see box) to Hycorr. The solution reduced Hycorr’s costs in both hardware and engineering time in terms of the product acquisition costs as well as the operating energy costs associated with these typically high-power-consuming machines.

Walter says he and his team determined that the Siemens motors and drives package was an ideal replacement for the previous vendor’s technology; plus, the integration of the PLC and HMI afforded Hycorr additional advantages in control and operational flexibility.

In the proposed implementation of the new solution, each technology (motion, PLC and HMI) had built-in connectivity to the others, reducing assembly time (and cost) for this machine manufacturer. Overall, the savings for Hycorr was calculated to be approximately 50% when it came to the components of the system.

An added benefit was a footprint reduction of 30% in control cabinet space. As Walter puts it, "The components were smaller. With the combination of the active interface module and active line module, we eliminated the need for line reactors or line filters, thereby saving space, plus mounting and hardwiring time." The Siemens servomotors specified for comparable performance levels also were considerably smaller and less expensive to operate than the previous units used.

Building the new machine

Working under a tight deadline, the first rotary die-cutter was built and commissioned onsite by Hycorr and Siemens at the end user’s plant. Shortly thereafter, the second machine, needed by another Hycorr customer, was built on a production schedule that Fred Harrison would deem another first for the company in its speed.

This improvement in engineering, production and assembly time resulted from the Simotion Shaftless Standard software, provided at no cost by Siemens to its customers. This software enabled Hycorr engineers to do much more modular implementations of components, as well use more modular interfaces for connecting the overall motion system to the controls architecture.

Using the Simotion Shaftless Standard, Hycorr saved approximately 80% of its engineering time on the machine build, says Walter. The entire engineering file for the first machine was loaded from a single compact flash drive and, with minimal debugging, the engineering on the second machine was completed quickly. This demonstrated the serial machine benefits of Simotion, says Walter.

Components used on the machine builds at Hycorr included Siemens Sinamics S120 drives, Simotion D425 motion controller,1PH7 servomotors and Simatic S7 PLC for simple Microsoft Windows based operator interface. As part of the Shaftless Standard package, Hycorr is able to make custom modifications to the various options offered on its rotary die cutters, without extensive engineering time.

Fred Harrison says, " Hycorr will continue to strive to be first on the market with many innovations, always maintaining the highest quality standards of machine performance. No customer will ever be a trial case for us. We deliver productivity to our customers’ bottom line because we’ve invested in maximizing our own."

Siemens drive motors on the die cutting end of the machine.

– Edited by Renee Robbins, senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk
Machine Control, Motion Control news from Control Engineering

More on Siemens SiMotion shaftless drive standard
Kristie Simon, project engineer with DMC, an engineering and software development services firm for manufacturing, testing, and product development organizations in the Chicago area and throughout the world. In a blog post on April 01, 2010, Simon explains the Siemens SiMotion Shaftless Drive Standard:

In many industries, shaftless drive technology has replaced the old mechanical drive systems. Instead of using mechanical gearing to force one axis on a machine to follow another one, servos are used. The servo technology reduces many of the flaws of a large mechanical gearing system as well as provides a lot of flexibility.

Using the shaftless drive technology requires the use of a motion controller to command the system. Siemens Industry and Automation’s motion control platform, SiMotion, … allows the programmer to configure all of the drives and axes with great flexibility and detail, and gives the capability to program in three different languages: text-based, ladder or function block diagram (FBD), and in a motion chart.

A typical approach to programming a shaftless drive solution would be to do any math required in the text-based portion, any peripheral I/O control and basic sequence logic would be done in ladder, and all of the motion commands to control the axes/drives would be programmed in the Motion Charts. The Motion Chart section would contain all of the individual motion commands to control the axes from enabling and disabling, to moving to a position, to gearing.

Since most of the shaftless drive solutions follow the same control strategy, Siemens has created the "SiMotion Shaftless Drive Standard". This Standard outlines a programming structure and contains a library of functions that work well to control such solutions.

The basic ideas contained in this strategy are outlined below:

•is is performed through a standard mode interface.

Simon goes on to describe a printing application project, and the benefits of the Shaftless Standard.