PC-based machine controller first to give real-time control through Internet (August 01, 2000)
Calling it the culmination of a 10-year strategy to make reliable PC-based control an industrial reality, Milacron Inc. has launched a version of its XTREEM machine control with new multi-media capabi...
Calling it the culmination of a 10-year strategy to make reliable PC-based control an industrial reality, Milacron Inc. has launched a version of its XTREEM machine control with new multi-media capabilities which can provide live, at-a-distance technical support directly to the operator on the shop floor. The security-protected system allows remote diagnostics and the capability to make remote machine adjustments via Internet or Ethernet from within or outside the plant, eliminating the need for costly, proprietary digital control and data acquisition systems. The new control system is being offered on Milacron’s line of injection molding machines and extrusion equipment. Additionally, the control system can be retrofitted to the machines of other equipment manufacturers.
Two versions of the XTREEM are available: ST and NT. The higher-level NT model runs Microsoft’s NT operating system from an operating station PC with 64 MB RAM and a two GB hard drive.
While other equipment manufacturers have introduced PC-based machine interfaces, Milacron says it believes it is the first to incorporate Internet-based control, as well as access to Windows NT. The company holds a number of patents on PC-based control technology used on injection molding machines
The PC has a built-in Internet Explorer, allowing the machine to tap the resources of the Internet and e-mail. Through an attached video camera an operator can leave a video and audio message for the next shift, or interact remotely with technical support or off-site staff and managers. Injection molding 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. Process monitoring is carried out with 0.01 mm digital position feedback and two millisecond timer accuracy.
“The cost advantage of a PC platform for a controller is strongly evident even in the basic ST model,” says Bill Gruber, vice president, Ferromatik Milacron North America. “It carries standard software that had previously sold for nearly $20,000 on previous-generation control.”