STD 32 Computer Controls Insertion Machine

By Gary A. Mintchell, CONTROL ENGINEERING April 1, 1999

The Image Packaging System from K&M Newspaper Services uses a dual-processor STD 32 Star System from Ziatech Corporation (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) to tailor the contents of newspaper inserts targeting specific insert packages to certain zones or demographic segments.

According to system architect Jack McDaniel of McDaniel Control Systems, the STD 32 Bus was chosen because of its multiprocessing capability, upgrade capability, and reliability in the ‘dusty environment” of a newspaper printing room.

The inserting machine works like an assembly line, with moving pockets passing under hoppers that drop inserts into the pockets. When a complete package of inserts is built, it is dropped onto a delivery conveyor. The STD 32 system controls which inserts are fed into the pockets and which pockets are dropped on the delivery conveyor. It also monitors the accuracy of the insert package contents.

Two STD 32 processor boards communicate through a 4KB block of shared memory. One of these processors is programmed in ‘C.” This processor exercises real-time control over the machine. Its executable file runs under DOS using far calls to exchange data with shared memory. As many as 25,000 packages are assembled per hour.

The system’s second Ziatech STD 32 processor board provides an interactive graphical user interface (GUI) for monitoring and controlling machine operation. The system is an Intel Pentium processor programmed in Visual Basic.

Typical operator tasks include entering machine setup parameters, entering contents and quantity of packages for individual zones, controlling the sequence of zone production, adjusting zone quantities to meet changing production requirements, and monitoring machine performance.

‘The STD 32 architecture, along with a well-defined, shared memory map, has permitted us to upgrade individual processors or programs with little or no redesign of the remainder of the control system,’ says Mr. McDaniel.