Lean automation offers higher product quality; less wiring, programming time

10/23/2014


Programming tools

Figure 6: side view: OPA Consulting Services established tighter tolerances on the temperature controls and coordinated motion, which helped improve end product quality by 10%-15% depending on the material type. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationThe PC-based control software, implemented in the framework of the globally used Microsoft Visual Studio, offers a wide range of automation and IT programming tools for PLC, motion control, measurement, and more. Many of these tools are leveraged by OPA Consulting Services. Learning the new programming environment was an efficient process, said Lipovan, who had experience with the prior version of the software and with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET (VB .NET).

The programming environment also is a "Big step forward in terms of performance and adds many available tools, so I definitely prefer it for my programming today," Lipovan said.

In addition to the automation software, the embedded PC also runs the human machine interface (HMI) software implemented by OPA Consulting Services, an all-in-one control hardware platform. Directly connected to the embedded PCs on the extrusion machines are EtherCAT I/O terminals, which are also distributed throughout the lines. EtherCAT terminals with various integrated functions, such as thermocouple terminals, were selected to implement measurement functionality on the machines. Safety functionality is established via safety I/O terminals installed throughout the machine modules.

Figure 7 rollers: OPA Consulting Services established tighter tolerances on the temperature controls and coordinated motion, which helped improve end product quality by 10%-15% depending on the material type. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationSafety over EtherCAT and the programmable safety technology ensure advanced safety measures are installed on the monofilament extrusion machines where most needed, "on the supervisory control station, extruders, quench baths, and draw stands," Lipovan explained. "We placed a safety pull cord on every draw stand. The rest of the machines have a typical e-stop push button." All machine logic, including safety, resides on the embedded PC. Safety IO and Safety over EtherCAT functionality provide a "complete safety package while facilitating simpler wiring and lower costs."

For motors and drives, the PC-based software and Ethernet are used together by OPA Consulting Services to implement coordinated motion on two brands of variable frequency drives (VFDs) networked via EtherCAT.

"This is working extremely well because EtherCAT is quite flexible at working with industrial devices from a wide range of vendors—this includes EtherCAT-enabled devices and those with a different fieldbus protocol," Lipovan said. "Using EtherCAT, we also significantly reduced the wiring to the drives, and we were able to read more parameters from them without requiring much programming." 

Controls consolidation

Figure 8: Closer: OPA Consulting Services established tighter tolerances on the temperature controls and coordinated motion, which helped improve end product quality by 10%-15% depending on the material type. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationWith the redesign and the move to PC-based control and EtherCAT, flexibility went with engineering efficiency.

"By implementing EtherCAT, we reduced wiring cost for this Quantum Group fabric manufacturing line by 50%," Lipovan said. "The system is also far less likely to experience unplanned downtime due to communication problems, which drastically reduces scrap and raw material costs." Now the Quantum Group also has more production space available due to smaller electrical cabinets through the use of PC-based control by OPA Consulting Services.

Technicians can also resolve electrical issues much more quickly through the HMI, largely due to EtherCAT's capability to automatically access detailed drive errors from the drive itself.

"The consolidated control platform that runs the automation and HMI programs" on the embedded PC is the other driving factor, Lipovan said. OPA Consulting Services has pushed these results through the completed retrofits of two whole extrusion lines, five infrared curing/bonding lines, and two liquid filling lines for the Quantum Group.

"We now have tighter tolerances on our temperature controls and coordinated motion, which have helped improve end product quality by an impressive 10% to 15% depending on the material type, leading to higher quality office chairs overall," Lipovan said.

"Moving forward with an EtherCAT-networked system reduced required programming time by about 30% compared to the Modbus TCP/IP route largely because of automated addressing features." Paring the PC-based software and EtherCAT, "I have a highly efficient toolset to manage programming and networking along with the fastest way to handle control and transmit equipment data." Quantum Group has slated three other similar lines with traditional PLC controls for similar retrofits. Advanced fabric materials now have an advanced automation platform to match.

- Shane Novacek is marketing communications manager, Beckhoff Automation. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

ONLINE

www.controleng.com/archives October has a link to product details and additional photos.

Key concepts

  • Machine retrofits with lean automation add higher product quality; decrease wiring and programming time.
  • OPA Consulting Services adds modular manufacturing and higher controls performance to high-end fabric production.
  • The Quantum Group achieves 10%-15% improvements in woven product quality with 50% less I/O wiring time and 30% less programming time.

Consider this

Which machines or processes in your facility could benefit from a redesign?

ONLINE extra

www.beckhoffautomation.com 

www.ethercat.org 

www.opaconsultingservices.com 

www.quantum5280.com 


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