Industry 4.0: avoid unplanned downtime

Hello machine, how are you doing today? The new Engel e-connect.monitor makes it possible to check the status of process-critical machine components during operation, analyse the data online, and make a reliable prognosis concerning the remaining service life

Maintenance staff face an enormous challenge every day. They are expected to guarantee very high availability for the production equipment, and at the same time, reduce the costs for maintenance and keeping a stock of spare parts. Common maintenance strategies do not completely satisfy these requirements. Because maintenance staff do not know exactly what condition the machine is in, components susceptible to wear are often replaced at predetermined intervals. This reduces machine availability and cost-efficiency, because in many cases, the replacement takes place sooner than necessary and therefore too often. But waiting until a component fails means risking longer downtime, delivery problems and collateral damages to adjacent machine parts.

Industry 4.0 now opens up new chances through the increasing networking of production systems and the systematic utilisation of machine data. The vision of a status-bases, predictive maintenance strategy becomes reality at the Engel exhibit at K 2016.

Monitor the screw status during operation
The plasticizing screw of an injection molding machine no longer needs to be removed in order to assess its condition. In order to measure wear-relevant parameters during operation, the Austrian injection molding machine manufacturer has developed a measuring system based on the latest sensor technology that is easy to install. The measurements only take a few minutes, while until now, the assessment of the screw of a large injection molding machine often meant two entire workdays of down-time had to be planned for the removal, cleaning and measurement of the screw.
The measurement data are analysed using mathematical models and documented so that a reliable prognosis for the remaining service life can be made based on the results of repeated measurements. This prognosis allows maintenance staff to replace the screw at the right time and to plan the necessary machine downtime in advance. The new screw can be ordered in advance to that can be delivered just in time for the scheduled maintenance. Thus Engel e-connect.monitor reduces the downtime of the production cell and eliminates the need for an in-house stock of spare parts.
In the long term, regular condition monitoring aids in process optimisation. Analysing the wear parameters makes it possible to recognise critical process settings that increase the wear of specific components, which can subsequently be avoided by adapting the process correspondingly.

Keep an eye on the spindles
The e-connect.monitor is particularly beneficial for process-critical machine components that maintenance staff do not constantly keep in focus. These include the spindles that actuate the axial movements in electrical injection molding machines. Since there are multiple spindles operating in each machine and the failure of only one brings the entire production cell to a standstill, the condition monitoring of the ball screw drives is done continuously. In future, the data captured by the sensors is transmitted in real time to the e-connect customer portal where it is automatically analysed with the help of mathematical and physical models. The operator can then call up the current condition of the individual spindles at any time and is immediately notified in the case that a spindle reaches a critical condition. If desired, the software can be programmed so that the alarm notification automatically initiates an order for spare parts and books an appointment for a service technician.
Engel is a worldwide pioneer in the plastics industry with its e-connect.monitor solution for plasticizing screws and spindles. Both maintenance packages will be available for new machines. Beyond that, solutions for retrofitting will also be offered. e-connect.monitor packages for further machine components are in preparation.

More efficiency, productivity and quality
The goal of Industry 4.0 is the smart factory in which all production machines and components communicate with each other and continuously optimise themselves. This results in significant increases in productivity, efficiency, quality and flexibility in manufacturing. Three areas are at the focus of the smart factory: smart machines, smart production and smart services. Under the name inject 4.0, Engel already offers a broad spectrum of products and solutions – as e-connect.monitor – for all three areas today and is continuously developing them further.

Automatically regulating pump capacity
A majority of reject parts produced by injection moulding firms around the world are the result of temperature control errors. With this in mind, temperature control has been a central plank of product and technology development at Engel for many years. For K 2010, the machine manufacturer has launched flomo, an electronic temperature control water manifold system. Replacing high-maintenance cooling water distributors, the system monitors and documents all cooling and temperature control circuits linked to injection moulds. Moreover, it facilitates automatic regulation of the flow rate or temperature difference. At K 2016 Engel presents the next step: e‑flomo and temperature control unit merge at controller level to form a single unit. With the help of the new iQ flow control software (the prefix iQ denotes intelligent, decentralised assistance systems that enable injection moulding firms to optimise the productivity, efficiency, quality and flexibility of their production), the pump speed is adapted automatically to current requirements based on the measurement values determined by e-flomo. While e-flomo reduces the risk of rejections by enhancing process stability, less energy is required for temperature control thanks to automatic speed control. Since the pump operates according to need rather than at maximum output all the time, stress on moving parts is reduced and temperature control units have a longer service life. The iQ flow control software not only determines the ideal speed in each case, but also makes it possible to operate the e-flomo and temperature control unit as an integrated system. All temperature control parameters are set, monitored and logged centrally on the display of the injection moulding machine; the ideal operating point for the particular temperature regulating device is automatically calculated and set. The CC300 control unit of the Engel injection moulding machine and the temperature control unit communicate via OPC-UA (Open Platform Communication Unified Architecture). Based on the complete range of functions of OPC-UA, the Austrian machine manufacturer has defined a communications model for temperature control units. The strategy is to open this model to also integrate temperature control units of different suppliers in the future. With its service-oriented, platform-independent and freely scalable structure, this communications model offers very high flexibility while guaranteeing a high degree of data security. Technical safety features are an integral part of the model.




Foto plastificatore

The plasticizing screw no longer needs to be removed in order to assess its condition. Within only a few minutes, the sensors of the new e-connect.monitor measure the wear-relevant parameters during operation



Foto flomo per il box sotto

e-flomo and temperature control unit merge at controller level to form a single unit. With the help of the new iQ flow control software, the pump speed is adapted automatically to current requirements




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