PC-based Control for Plastic Machines PC-based Control for Plastic Machines

Open automation solutions for the processing of plastics

The need for machines for the processing of plastics is constantly growing. Machine manufacturers are challenged to find innovative solutions with which productivity can also be increased. The companies are facing new challenges due to new demands on precision and flexibility, while pressure is growing at the same time to reduce running costs and initial investment as far as possible.

With PC-based control technology, Beckhoff offers an open and flexible automation solution for all areas of plastics processing, including injection molding machines, blow molding machines, and extrusion systems. Peripheral units for the handling of materials and parts are optimally integrated.

Industry-specific technology blocks for plastics machines from Beckhoff
Beckhoff implements open automation systems on the principle of PC-based control technology. This openness in relation to the software and hardware interfaces enables the machine manufacturers to continually adapt their systems to different requirements at low cost.

Beckhoff solutions for plastic machines
The open and scalable TwinCAT automation platform is a dynamic software PLC and Motion Control solution for PCs. This openness of the software and hardware interfaces enables machine manufacturers to continually adapt their systems to different requirements at a low cost. Beckhoff offers turnkey technology blocks for PLC and operation/monitoring for the most important processes such as injection molding, blow molding and extrusion. Rapid market access is thus made possible with tried-and-tested technologies. However, the machine manufacturer can additionally supplement in-house know-how within the framework of the open control architecture in order to protect intellectual property and achieve unique selling points.

Additionally, programming in accordance with the international IEC 61131-3 standard guarantees high investment security.

EtherCAT – the rising standard for the plastics industry
Beckhoff Automation, a specialist in the area of industrial fieldbus technology, has made a substantial contribution to the continued development of PC-based control technology with EtherCAT. EtherCAT is now established worldwide as an accepted and heavily utilised fieldbus. In the meantime, a large number of plastics machine manufacturers have chosen EtherCAT as the backbone of their controllers. However, other relevant fieldbus systems such as the Euromap protocol or PROFIBUS architectures are optimally integrated with EtherCAT. A fast, commonly used fieldbus is one of the most important factors to achieve success with energy-saving servo-electric concepts in particular. EtherCAT offers optimum real-time properties for critical process phases without requiring special hardware in the central controller. With the eXtreme Fast Control Technology (XFC), temporal resolution of < 100 ns is possible using the time stamp method and sensor signals can be read with sampling times of less than 10 µs. This increases the repeatability and accuracy of the processes and, as a result, the efficiency of the machines.

Maximum performance up to the I/Os
Beckhoff supplies a complete range of fieldbus components for all common I/O and fieldbus systems. With the IP 20 Bus Terminals and the IP 67 Fieldbus Box modules, the entire range is available for all signals relevant to the plastics industry. Other fieldbuses can also be integrated via Beckhoff Bus Terminals or Fieldbus Box modules.

Motion Control
PC-based control technology in combination with EtherCAT is an ideal control component for the replacement of hydraulic axes by electrically driven axes, particularly with injection molding and blow molding machines. Drive technology from Beckhoff offers high performance with optimum precision, even for the smallest parts.

Turnkey Motion Control modules for servo-electric, hydraulic or hybrid machine concepts are supplied within the PLC Framework for injection molding and blow molding machines. Central drive concepts can also be realised with servo amplifiers and hydraulic pumps. The machine manufacturer has a free choice of drive concepts and need not restrict itself to a single path for future developments.

Servo-electric drive technology as a replacement for hydraulic axes
The replacement of hydraulically driven axes with servo-electric drives is necessary for achieving higher energy efficiency in plastics machines. For this purpose, the AX5000 Servo Drive family from ­Beckhoff in combination with XFC offers the ideal motion platform for machines. Quality-determining machine modules can be controlled with sampling times of less than 50 μs and the inclusion of feedback is possible. The flexible design, with 1 and 2-channel units as well as the variable distribution of motor power, represents a cost-optimised solution, in particular for handling systems. In addition to the industry-specific technology blocks in the controller, Beckhoff also offers extensive support for the sizing of motors and gearboxes upon request.

TwinSAFE: It’s safety simplified.
In recent years, operational safety and workplace safety have played an ever larger part in machine design. In TwinSAFE, Beckhoff offers a uniform system solution for optimum synergy between automation and safety technology. With Beckhoff safety technology, the machine manufacturer saves commissioning costs in the assembly of manufacturing cells. Subsequent changes or extensions are achieved with simple software adaptations.

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