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Wittmann Battenfeld open house: Focus on connecting technology

Last week Wittmann Battenfeld opened the doors at its U.S. headquarters in Torrington, CT and about 150 molders got a close look at the technical synergies the two merged companies are offering the molding sector some two years after they first connected. The main theme, fittingly, was "Connecting Technology."

During what was, in effect, a preview of the company's two large stands at the K 2010 Show in Germany two weeks later, attendees could see exactly how Wittmann's mold temperature controls, material handling equipment, robotics and cell automation, and all the rest of its peripheral technologies could not only physically combine with the Battenfeld injection molding machines, but could create more efficient systems through seamlessly tight integration.

"What we wanted to show is the ability to connect these products together with the molding machine," said David Preusse, president of Wittmann Battenfeld North America. "We set up several work cells where we integrated the robots, the guarding, loaders...everything, even the conveying equipment, and it can all be viewed and operated on the screen of the molding machine's Unilog B6 control system."

Preusse noted that a production cell most often is a molding machine with as many as 15 or more auxiliaries around it, on it, or near it, resulting in a mix of equipment and controls needed to run the system. Improving that situation dovetails perfectly with the combining of Wittmann's auxiliaries and the Battenfeld line of molding machines. "We're continuing to show the development of our products,' says Preusse, "and how their coming together  shrinks the footprint of the workcell and makes it more completely integrated, something that in the past was up to the customer."

Georg Tinschert, who heads up the company's injection machine business based in Kottingbrunn, Austria, was at the open house, and talked about another significant bit of connectivity. "We are introducing at the K Show our new 24/7 web service support," he said, "offering our customers online service 365 days/year." The key to this is the presence of Windows XP in the Unilog B6 controller. The only thing the molder needs besides that is an Internet connection to be online with the Wittmann Battenfeld support centers, which are able to see into all operations of a workcell integrated into the machine control system.

The always-on capability relies on support centers in Austria, the USA, and Australia that come on line successively in their daylight hours. The time of day doesn't matter to the molder, however, since the connection to Wittmann Battenfeld Support is transferred transparently and seamlessly to whichever support center is then operating. Tinschert noted that since support must always be available, there is a monthly schedule for the specialists around the world to be on duty and on standby. "I tell the customer, if you will hook the machine to the Internet, then we are with you within minutes when you have a problem, or if you want support."

Wittmann Battenfeld will be demonstrating this technology at K 2010 in Düsseldorf, Germany (Oct 27 - Nov 3), and introducing multiple new products: peripherals, automation, molding machines, and more. Preusse noted that the Open House gave the company's American customers a chance to see the EcoPower all-electric molding system, which will be fully rolled out at the German show in a range of 55 to 240 tons. The company has already taken orders for EcoPower machines in North America. Tinschert says that, because molders are increasingly concerned more with life cycle cost of a machinery investment than its  purchase price, the energy saving with EcoPower machines, which has been proven by comparative testing, adds another advantage to the machine's cleanliness, quietness, and precision molding capability.

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