Industrial Ethernet and Multi-Core Technology

PC-based Control Slashes Raw Materials Costs With Injection Molding Machines

By Paul Commisso, Husky

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Whether your go-to beverage is soda, water, tea or juice, it's almost certain that the plastic bottle that protects your drink started out as a "preform." Looking much like plastic test tubes with a threaded neck for bottle caps, preforms are manufactured by the millions using injection molding machines. Preforms are then loaded into stretch blow molding machines that shape them into the familiar finished bottle shape.

Responsible for manufacturing preforms for an enormous share of the world's PET plastic bottles, Husky Injection Molding Systems is a global manufacturer of injection molding machines, hot runners, molds and integrated systems. Based in Bolton, Ontario, Husky has manufacturing facilities in Canada, the United States, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, China, India and the Czech Republic. It also has more than 40 service and sales offices worldwide, supporting customers in more than 100 countries. Husky equipment is used to manufacture a wide range of plastic products such as bottles and caps for beverages, as well as plastic parts for the medical industry. Husky provides clients in numerous industries with complete injection molding solutions, including the machines, tooling and auxiliaries.

The PC-Based Past

Husky has been a user of PC-based control since the late 1990s, with several thousand systems in the field (Figure 1). From the start, these PC-based machines have been based on hardware and software solutions from Beckhoff Automation. We stress a value-add approach to system design that leverages leading edge automation technologies. Husky, offering integrated system solutions, has also built a strong aftermarket retrofit program to serve customers with older Husky machines. Called Encore, this program helps customers to upgrade to modern PC-based control without having to purchase a new machine.

"We have built generation after generation of PC-based control systems, and reliable performance is firmly established with over 15 years of continuity using PC-based control architectures," says Husky Electrical Design Team Leader Endel Mell. "Over our long-term business partnership, Husky has enjoyed excellent technical support from management and product developers at Beckhoff as well as the technical services and support staff worldwide, especially in Germany, North America and China."

A major trend in the injection molding industry is the reduction of raw materials used while ensuring top product quality, which unsurprisingly requires continuous advancement in automation technology. "Through best-in-class system design, Husky maintains top part quality in the industry," says Husky Director of Development Engineering Roman Pirog. "We design the system and the automation around the part and create specialized solutions as a result. This ensures the best possible throughput, efficiency in materials use and part quality."

Increased system accuracy, responsive machinery dynamics, and repeatability — each of these is an inherent benefit of the processing on the fly and real-time data throughput associated with EtherCAT technology. Inaccuracy and slower response times are associated with higher levels of raw material waste. By implementing highly accurate and responsive devices, Husky systems are equipped to more efficiently utilize raw materials, producing high-quality injection molded PET plastic products while decreasing the levels of required raw materials.

Using automation technology to strike this balance between quality and efficient use of plastic resources is a contributing factor driving many end users to continue going to Husky for leading-edge injection molding solutions. Husky strives to increase this efficiency along with ease of use for all systems and equipment; this holds true for the new Husky HyPET HPP5, which builds on the proven technology of the long-running HyPET platform by adding more functionality that enables end users to lower their total cost to produce while ensuring best-in-class preform quality (Figure 2).

Multi-core Industrial PCs

Husky machines are introduced to the market with continually upgraded features that are strategically designed to anticipate and respond to market demands. As such, the HyPET HPP5 is the latest evolution of Husky's 15-year-long run of machines powered by PC-based control. "Recently, we began using multi-core industrial PCs (IPCs) to bundle the new software functionality we added to the HyPET HPP5 while maintaining ever-faster scan times in our control platform," explains Husky Control Software Team Leader Teodor Tarita-Nistor.

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