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July 1, 2000

5 Min Read
Auxiliary Equipment Maker To Debut New Dryer Technology, Feeders,Blenders And More At NPE

Controller Brings The Internet And More To Your Plastics Processing Machine

Milacron's familiar CAMAC user interface has gotten a major facelift. Demonstrated at NPE, the new Xtreem plastics processing machinery controller includes a range of 'cutting-edge' technologies, such as Internet-based OneTouch video-conferencing with Milacron's process support center.

The new controller is available on all new Milacron machines, and can be retrofit on existing Milacron and other brand name machines.

Analogous to the OnStar system used in automobiles, where the driver can access a live person to help withdirections, emergencies and the like, OneTouch brings a Milacron support person to your plant via the Internet.

"We can't 'beam' an operator out of a tight situation, but we can 'beam in' face-to-face support from a real process expert, right on the machine's control screen," says Bill Gruber, Vice President, Ferromatik Milacron North America. "OneTouch also integrates with the new electronic customer relations management (eCRM) system used by our ServTek business to speed service and repair parts." (See Industry News, p 27.)

Other new Xtreem control capabilities introduced at NPE include:

* VoicePad ­ Allows the operator to record an 'audio memo' that can be attached to a mold file, for example, even in multiple languages.

* VideoPad ­ Streaming video or still photos can be attached to another file in much the same way as the VoicePad memos. For example, part defects/features or mold set-up can be explained and demonstrated in video.

* VoiceCounselor ­ Allows recording of audio advisories, tips and troubleshooting directions. These can be selectively attached to the control's messages, faults and alarms to aid the operator through machine or process troubleshooting.

* VideoCounselor ­ Allows streaming video to be captured and attached to faults, alarms, etc. in the same way as VoiceCounselor advisories. Again, the machine owner can record voice and/or video 'tips' that are invoked for the operator when specific situations or faults arise.

* Remote diagnostics ­ Via the Internet or Ethernet, this feature allows a process expert (Milacron's or the customer's own) to look at all the operating parameters of the machine, as if standing at the control, and change the setup, if the operator consents. Additionally, real-time oscilloscope functions provide remote measurement plots of machine performance, without the expensive purchase of separate diagnostic equipment.

"The Xtreem control is the culmination of a 10-year strategy to make reliable PC-based control an industrial reality, and it represents a significant investment by Milacron to provide low-cost, flexible solutions to its customers," says Gruber.

"The computer infrastructure needed to implement these new capabilities is inherent to the Xtreem control's industrial PC platform and the Internet, both of which are universally supported and used by customers in the office. The customer can now bring low-cost 'office PC' solutions and networking to the shop floor, using the same technology and human resources already needed for the office computer network. More importantly, shop floor production systems can now be easily networked into the customer's business information systems to facilitate e-commerce, order entry and reporting. Our control can now be a portal to the Internet and the business data network, while providing dozens of new process features as well."

Introduced at NPE '97 as the first PC-based control for plastics injection molding machines, the Xtreem control is already standard on a wide range of Milacron's injection molding machines, and is available on extrusion systems as well. The operator interface on injection machine controls is 'backwardly compatible' with the earlier generation CAMAC control, so the look and feel for the operator are essentially identical, eliminating retraining issues.

The Xtreem utilizes 100% industrial PC hardware, allowing upgrades to the latest PC technology as they become available. Two versions of the Xtreem are available: ST and NT.

Both models have a 3.5-in. floppy drive, a keyboard port, Ethernet port and parallel port, allowing plastics processing machines to cable-up to the office PC network.

The higher-level NT model runs Microsoft's Windows NT operating system. The operator station PC has 64 mb RAM, a 2 gb hard drive and an uninterruptable power supply.

The NT control includes a mouse port, and it can perform essentially just like an office PC, running any third-party, Windows-compatible software for data acquisition/analysis, vision, imaging and multimedia. It has built-in Internet Explorer, allowing the molding machine to tap the resources of the Internet and e-mail.

"This commonality between shop and office systems leverages the customer's investment in software, computer support and training," Gruber says.

"The cost advantage of using a PC platform for a controller, with all the 'magic' of machine control now in software and not PLC hardware, is strongly evident even in the basic ST model," adds Gruber. "It carries as standard, software that had previously sold for nearly $20,000 as options on the previous-generation control."

Both controls have a new range of displays and capabilities for the operator/processor, too. Injection machine displays now include screw volume percent displacement, melt pressure, plots of pressure/volume/cavity pressure/screw position. Standard and configurable core sequences are both available, along with eight configurable I/Os.

The control stores the last 100 cycles of process data, which can be saved to floppy disk, printed or loaded into Excel for analysis. Process monitoring is precise, with 0.01 mm digital position feedback and 2 millisecond timer accuracy. A change log keeps track of the last 100 setpoint changes, who made them, when and the old/new values.

NT models include the additional new features of VoicePad, VideoPad, VoiceCounselor and VideoCounselor, along with third-party compatibility for Avalon Vision, Kistler Autoflow and Moldflow MPX.

Milacron's own MVT (Machine Validation Tool) diagnostics package, used to set up and test machines at the factory, is included on the NT model. It can monitor and plot up to 10,000 variables and offers configurable alarms, scaling and sampling. Performance of components or overall systems on the machine can be monitored with MVT, either at the machine or remotely over the Internet or Local Area Network, at the user's discretion.

MVT is designed to pinpointwearing components, such as sticking valves, to improve the efficiency oftroubleshooting or service calls. Italso allows recording of this data to facilitate meeting QS9000 and FDA requirements.

Milacron, Inc.
Batavia, OH

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