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"Over the last one or two years, China has experienced a great deal of 4.0 hype. The subject has been and still is all the rage. We are now entering the stage of maturity here", says Gero Willmeroth, President Sales and Service at ENGEL Machinery (Shanghai). "The stage of maturity means that the major pioneering companies are starting to prove successful, and now smaller companies are also working on concepts with which to concretely implement the new opportunities. Many of our customers are astounded at just how easily the entry into digitalisation and networking can become a reality, and at the high degree of benefit already being offered by individual solutions. Smart factory, step by step – that is the motto."
One of the major strengths of the inject 4.0 programme by ENGEL is its modular approach. Today, the injection moulding machine builder and system expert, headquartered in Schwertberg, Austria, is already offering a whole range of mature products and services for all areas of the smart factory. In the factory of the future, production processes will continuously self-optimise, allowing for highly flexible responses to ever more rapidly changing requirements. At the same time, this increases the efficiency, availability and productivity of manufacturing, as well as the quality of products.
To achieve these goals, inject 4.0 relies on the networking and integration of production systems, the systematic use of machine-, process-, and production-data, and the use of decentralised, intelligent assistance systems. The inject 4.0 products and services by ENGEL cover all three areas of the smart factory: smart machine, smart production, and smart service.
During the four days of the exhibition, with the production of inject 4.0 logos on an ENGEL e motion 80 TL injection moulding machine, ENGEL will tangibly demonstrate the potential of smart machine. The CC300 machine control is capable of simulating process fluctuations; the automatic readjustments by the intelligent assistance systems can then be tracked on the display of the machine. While iQ weight control maintains consistent injected melt volume throughout the entire injection moulding process, iQ clamp control monitors the mould breathing and continuously readjusts the clamping force. This way, fluctuations in the environmental conditions and in the raw material are automatically detected and compensated for within the same shot, thus preventing rejects.
iQ weight control was the first of the iQ systems to be launched. With far more than 1,000 installations, the software has become very well established in the global markets, also being widely used in China. The possible areas of application include, for example, the production of very small precision components made of liquid silicone for the consumer electronics industry. "When needing to produce three-dimensionally sophisticated components with very low shot weights, iQ weight control achieves especially good results", says Willmeroth. Initially, the software was only available for injection moulding machines with electrical injection units, but at this time, hydraulic machines can also be equipped with iQ weight control.
The most recent iQ product is iQ flow control, which is being presented in China for the first time at the Chinaplas 2017. It is based on e-flomo, the temperature control water manifold by ENGEL that monitors and documents all cooling and temperature control cycles of injection moulding machines and independently regulates either the flow volume or the temperature difference. iQ flow control connects e-flomo with the temperature control unit so as to continuously adjust the operational speed of the pump to actual requirements. This results in higher energy efficiency. ENGEL developed the integrated temperature control unit in cooperation with the Swiss temperature control unit manufacturer HB-Therm, and continues to strengthen its systems competency with the new e-temp line of temperature control units.
With the e-motion 80 TL injection moulding machine and the integrated e-pic robot, the design of the production cell being presented at Chinaplas also fulfils the highest demands on efficiency and precision. The machine combines the benefits of ENGEL’s tie-bar-less technology, such as quick setup processes, efficient automation solutions and compact production cells, with all-electric drive technology. Thanks to these characteristics, in Asia the e motion 80 TL is being preferentially deployed in the production of precision components and high-quality optical components in the electronics industry.
The innovative kinematics of the pick-and-place robot combines linear movements with a swivel arm, thus requiring very little space. The swivel arm is constructed of a customised, thermoplastic, lightweight composite material, which additionally increases the energy efficiency and dynamics.
At Chinaplas, ENGEL will present the areas of smart service and smart production in several Expert Corners.
The smart production Expert Corner is focused on the topic of MES (Manufacturing Execution System). Tailored to the specific requirements of the injection moulding industry, ENGEL’s solution achieves an especially deep vertical data integration, down to the level of individual cavities. The MES creates transparency, for example to optimally utilise the available capacity of a machine park, or to correlate productivity ratios with economic goals. It becomes especially interesting when, rather than just the production cells of a single site, an entire worldwide production network is connected. This allows company headquarters to also monitor processes at other sites, and to provide support even to far-away colleagues. The MES has a modular design. The solution can thus be adapted precisely to the individual requirements of the producer, and can be flexibly expanded as needed. For Asian producers, the new energy module may be especially interesting. It distributes pre-defined amounts of power to the individual consumers, thus helping to avoid performance peaks. "It is becoming clear that more and more producers here in China are relying on a MES for the optimisation of their processes", says Willmeroth.
Gero Willmeroth sees an especially high efficiency potential in the area of smart service. "Remote maintenance and online support help to save time and increase the availability of machines and production cells", states Willmeroth. "The competitive pressure continues to increase, especially in the automobile industry. Producers are becoming even more focused on cost efficiency and availability." A new smart service solution for condition-based, predictive maintenance is also contributing to high availability. e-connect.monitor makes it possible to analyse the state of process-critical machine components, e.g. plasticising screws, during operation, and to generate a reliable failure prognosis. This way, the service life of critical machine components can be fully utilised without risking unplanned system downtime.