Rodney Pennings is director of sales—PCL at Paper Converting Machine (PCMC), a Barry-Wehmiller company in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Tell us about your company’s state-of-the-art machine-controls technology for discrete manufacturing.
Rodney Pennings, director of sales—PCL, PCMC: PCMC’s Fusion Series Printing Press controls topology uses state-of-the-art regenerative drives along with a combination of fully frameless motors and bearingless housed motors, depending on the needs of the application. This precision sectionalized drive system is integrated with an Industry 4.0-friendly controls scheme that allows for seamless component replacement along with advanced diagnostics features.
What have been the biggest improvements to machine-controls technology in the past five years?
Rodney Pennings, director of sales—PCL, PCMC: The ever-evolving drive systems have advanced to a point where processing speeds now allow for advanced computing algorithms such as PCMC’s SteadyPrint torque algorithm for controlling print quality defects associated with difficult print graphics. This coupled with advances in communications and data available in IoT-enabled devices allows for further advances in technology.
What’s the most innovative or efficient machine-controls technology application you’ve ever seen or been involved with?
Rodney Pennings, director of sales—PCL, PCMC: This has to be the SteadyPrint torque algorithm, which automatically analyzes the electronic signature of print jobs and implements feed-forward loops to eliminate print defects associated with difficult print graphics.
How has machine-controls technology benefitted from remote monitoring and connectivity?
Rodney Pennings, director of sales—PCL, PCMC: Remote monitoring and connectivity has effectively brought the design engineer right to the production floor, not only for reactive troubleshooting but more importantly for proactive monitoring and implementation of advanced artificial-intelligence algorithms.
Can you explain how software development has changed machine controls in discrete manufacturing?
Rodney Pennings, director of sales—PCL, PCMC: Advances in controls technology have brought more data than ever in real time to the operator’s hands. This has allowed software developers to continue to advance the operator experience to be more intuitive and productive.
When will machine controls become IT-friendly enough that engineers are no longer required for installation and operation?
Rodney Pennings, director of sales—PCL, PCMC: That time is already here. All of PCMC’s product offerings today implement IT-friendly controls topologies that grant access if needed for remote troubleshooting and support. This has effectively eliminated the need for an engineer to be on-site for installation or operation of the equipment.
What future innovations will impact the use of machine-controls technology in discrete-manufacturing operations?
Rodney Pennings, director of sales—PCL, PCMC: Further advances in connectivity and processing power will give light to more remote diagnostics and proactive monitoring of equipment. This will positively impact equipment OEE by increasing run speeds and reducing downtime.