The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s entertainment and lifestyle behaviors, which has boosted e-commerce and delivery opportunities. With this phenomenon, the need for packaging has increased along the same lines. Nonetheless, manpower shortages during the pandemic and a higher minimum wage pose numerous challenges to the unceasing production lines of the plastics industry.
Traditional plastic extrusion lines consist of production equipment in tandem with auxiliary machines. These processes are complex and independently operational with various brands, equipment, and communication protocols, which makes it difficult to collect and link production data from different sources. It is due to this feature that traditional plastic production can only rely on onsite manpower, and manually set the parameters of equipment production. However, the digitalization of production data, the retention of know-how, and long-term reliable data in the plastics industry can facilitate the decision-making process.
To resolve the problems of plastic extrusion lines, the ideal solution is to adopt smart manufacturing. With this in mind, digitalization and databases are the fundamentals. As a global leader in smart manufacturing, Delta looks forward to developing industral automation products via smart manufacturing to tackle the hurdles of data digitalization and communication, and elevate automation in the plastic extrusion industry. To fulfill these goals, Delta aims at the two aspects of production line integration and visualization.
In terms of production line integration, the first priority is to connect each station and the host system. For the continuous production of the plastics and rubber industry, Delta employs the Compact Modular Mid-range PLC, AS 300 Series to connect OT and IT layers. In addition to the built-in Ethernet upload of equipment information, the 2-port S485 communication can facilitate the auxilary information in different workstations and distribute it into two communication fieldbuses, accelerating information handshaking. The AS 300 series also supports Modbus TCP, EtherCAT or CAN Bus with option communications cards to integrate inverters or servo motors for up to 8-axis basic motion control. Furthermore, in each phase of production, Delta utilizes Modbus TCP as the spindle for open communication framework and the isolation of the plastic extrusion line, aided by Modbus RTU/ Ascii, and CANopen, to help connect the data, eliminating communication barriers in the automation process.
Although traditional plastic extrusion machines mostly utilize a single-channel temperature controller to heat and cool, the passive communication results in a less streamlined production line. Delta’s Multi-loop Modular Temperature Control DTM can proactively collect temperature control information and upload the information in realtime. The DTM can conduct up to 64 points of temperature control simultaneously, centralize and integrate the communication of the temperature controller. On top of that, the DTM saves tray opening costs and panel space. It goes well with the Human Machine Interfaces HMI to achieve one-stop temperature control. Rather than depending on manpower monitoring an onsite temperature controller, the DTM can save up to 50% of ineffective working hours. Last but not least, the DTM features one-button setting for critical parameters, shortening tuning hours, minimizing human errors, and fulfulling the vision of smart manufacturing for higher productivity and superior quality.
Besides equipment communication integration, stability and energy-saving are also the focal points for production line integration. One traditional plastic extrusion line probably needs dozens of AC Motor Drives, with various brands and specifications. The Delta High-Performance Vector Control Drive C2000 Plus can replace motor drives, and precisely control the speed and torque of IM and PM motors. C2000 Plus covers the power range from 1~750 hp, which satisfies complex applications for different phases of plastic extrusion. In the meantime, the C2000 Plus can save energy and lower production costs in the course of management and operation.
Production visualization is another key item to improve on the plastic extrusion line. Catching the wave of smart production, Delta has worked on production visualization and launched the DIAView SCADA System. This SCADA System helps plastic manufacturers identify the key factors for optimization and convert the long-term accumulated production data into a reliable database. Furthermore, the DIAView can integrate information on production equipment, and present production data on the dashboard or a control and monitoring center for management teams to keep tabs on production status and maintain quality remotely in real-time. On top of that, with DIAView, users can save key parameters in the database and build industrial know-how, facilitating productivity prediction with data for accurate order delivery, timely decision-making, and increasing the competitiveness of enterprises.
Delta has shown a long-term focus on the trends and applications in the rubber and plastics industry and leveraged solid industrial automation as the foundation to offer solutions and key controlling products for production. Considering the industrial production environment and requirements, Delta looks forward to helping manufacturers overcome obstacles, and achieve automation and digitalization for smart manufacturing.
The original article was published in TAMI’s Taiwan Machinery Monthly, in the September issue.