Conair unveils latest auxiliary technologies at virtual press conference
The event spotlighted five products that would have been featured at the now-cancelled NPE2021 trade show.
Auxiliary plastics processing equipment supplier Conair Group used a May 11 virtual press conference to introduce a range of new equipment that it would otherwise have unveiled at the now-cancelled NPE2021 trade show.
ALL ABOUT CONTROL
First up, Cranberry Township, Pa.-based Conair rolled out a new control platform, featuring an HMI that company officials say offers a consistent user experience regardless of the machinery involved. According to Conair engineering director Matt Shope, the goal is to make it easier for employees to learn how to operate different kinds of auxiliary equipment, which is why the new control platform features a consistent user experience regardless of the machinery involved. With a common control platform, Shope said Conair can implement new features, new hardware, and future-proof communications across all its products with minimal risk to the customer. “The new control platform and human-machine interface (HMI) already are part of the SmartFLX brand material handling control, truck-fill line-proofing system, blenders and temperature-control units,” Shope said. “Dryers are scheduled to be released in the third quarter of 2021, followed by chillers and other equipment.”
Next, the company introduced the latest version of its SmartServices cloud-based Industry 4.0 solution for connecting, monitoring, and managing auxiliary equipment, which Conair officials said adds new features that give processors added flexibility in equipment monitoring, expanded integration capabilities with non-Conair controls, and a common interface for remote auxiliary equipment control. “Thanks to expanded naming, grouping, and sub-grouping features, processors can now name and organize equipment and equipment groups for SmartServices monitoring and management in virtually any way they wish – by plant, process, line, or equipment type,” said Alan Landers, Conair’s product manager for blending and upstream products. “These expanded options give processors flexibility to create time-saving scans that ‘roll up’ performance trends, KPIs, maintenance alerts, or priority alarms within a single large equipment grouping. Then, if additional details are required, processors can dig deeper, scanning through varied or specialized subgroups, such as all dryers, all auxiliaries that serve a specific production line, or all TCUs that are due for preventive maintenance.”
SmartServices has also expanded its array of real-time trending and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). “Instead of displaying a default set of 3 KPIs for each machine type, SmartServices now offers 10 customizable KPIs and enables users to customize and rank-order all 10 for time-saving, at-a-glance monitoring,” Landers said.
Turning to temperature control units (TCUs) for plastic processing, Conair said that all of its new Thermolator units feature an ergonomic angled panel for better viewing. “The TW-S and TW-P models are the first units available with our new ‘common control’ to offer a consistent user experience regardless of the machinery involved,” said Jim Fisher, Conair’s general manager of heat transfer. The TCU menu structure and navigation, set-point entry, alarm notification, icons, colours, communication protocols, and back-end hardware will essentially be the same as other Conair equipment, including blenders and dryers,” Fisher said. “These common features simplify operator training and make it easier employees to learn to use different auxiliaries.”
The Thermolator TCUs are still available in three standard configurations, he added, and the TW-P units also can be equipped with solid-state relay heater controls for precision and long-term dependable operation.
For extrusion, Conair officials introduced the new PipeMaster line of downstream equipment and tooling suited for extruding plastic pipe in diameters up to 24.9 inches or 630 mm – which is an upgrade because, until now, Conair’s processing equipment was limited to pipe sizes measuring eight inches or 200 mm in diameter or smaller. “We understand that extruded pipe processors compete in a very robust and cost-conscious market and can choose equipment from all over the world, with various levels of quality and price points,” said Ernie Preiato, Conair’s vice president, extrusion. Each die is mounted on a movable, height-adjustable stand and features polished, heat-treated internal surfaces, Preiato added, and interchangeable die pins and nozzles allow dies to produce multiple sizes of pipe.
Conair also said that it’s building a new six-inch plastic pipe extrusion line at its lab and pilot plant in Pinconning, Mich., and that it plans a live demo of the line in early June and during a customer open house later this year.
Finally, Conair officials unveiled AutoWave, a new feature of Conair’s multi-phase, variable-speed Wave Conveying brand technology for plastics material handling introduced several years ago. Designed as a “bolt-on” addition to Conair’s SmartFLX control, AutoWave is designed to make it easy to automatically select capabilities to protect resins from damage caused by conveying systems operating at excessive speeds in the dilute phase, according to Nick Paradiso, Conair’s conveying products manager. “Until now, successful use of Conair Wave Conveying technology has required users to manually program a series of parameters – a conveying recipe – into the conveying control for each receiver in a conveying system,” he said. “But the AutoWave feature eliminates virtually all of that manual programming effort; now, to convey a particular resin, a user needs only to use the new Conair SmartFLX HMI to select a source and destination, then open up a new, simplified receiver control screen and select a desired conveying phase – Wave Pulse, Wave Stream or Dilute. The AutoWave feature coordinates with the SmartFLX control and Wave Conveying components to complete the job.”