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Software PLC/NC and Hydraulics:

TwinCAT for Control of Plastics Processing Machinery

Totally PC-Based Control

In planning their new Controls generation, Husky - global supplier of injection
molding systems to the plastics industry- have embarked on an integral
approach based on an Industrial PC, fieldbus components and software from
Beckhoff‘s product portfolio. The challenge to be met by Beckhoff‘s solution
included a software PLC for machine control and a software NC for electrical
axes as well as integrated hydraulic drive and temperature control.

Plastic products have become so small (e.g. model making compon- tional principle of an injection
familiar and commonplace that ents) to very large (e.g. automotive molding machine is the same
people spend little thought about bonnets), and subsequently also across all sizes: Through a feed
their production as they use in the size ranges of plastics injec- hopper the pelletized plastic mate-
them. Many plastic products are tion molding machines. A distincti- rial enters a plasticizing barrel
manufactured by injection molding. ve feature is the clamp tonnage where it is melted under the influ-
The list of end-products is as required to operate the mold from ence of a rotating screw and the
endless as unspectacular: Dowels, which a plastic application springs. temperature exerted by band hea-
yoghurt cups, ballpoint pen hou- ters around the barrel. As the melt
sings, beverage bottles, automo- Plastics Injection Molding compresses in front of the screw,
tive rear lenses and bumpers, Machines with a TwinCAT the mold (at left) is closed and then
laundry baskets, buckets, contai- Heart locked by applying a nominal force
ners for use in medical engineering In order to provide the required which must be precisely maintai-
to name just a few of the vast array clamp forces, machine manuf- ned and controlled to prevent the
of more or less important things acturers employ either hydraulic hot melt from escaping at high
in our daily life. However, there is units or mechanically sophisti- pressure. Once sufficient melt has
an obvious difference in the sizes cated, electrically driven clamp collected in front of the screw, the
of these end-products, from very mechanisms. However, the func- screw is used as a piston to inject
New Automation Technology in plastics
injection molding machineryn

the material through the machine Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd.
nozzle into the mold cavities, and Husky was founded in 1953, and has emerged as the world‘s
to keep the melt under pressure.
After a specific mold cooling time, largest single-brand manufacturer of injection molding machi-
the screw piston is pulled back. nes. With production sites at Bolton (Ontario, Canada, Milton
The mold is opened, and the mol-
(Vermont, U.S.A.) and Dudelange (Luxembourg), Husky emp-
ded parts are removed from the
mold cores either by means of an loys 3,000 people worldwide who realized sales worth US$
ejection mechanism or by a robot. 708 millions in the past fiscal year. Products include hydraulic
The machine cycle can then be
resumed anew. Suitable machines injection molding machines with clamp forces from 50 to 8,000
for this process must meet a whole metric tons, molds, hot runners, and removal robots.
set of requirements, importantly:
1. High part quality: The opti-
mized process and its parameters
must ensure a consistent produc-
tion of good parts, i.e. with con-
sistent physical properties (size,
weight, density distribution, color,
and even odor). Repeatability of
the machine‘s mechanisms and
control are key.
2. Short machine cycles: As
the machines frequently run in
unattended 24 hours operation,
every tenth of a second saved in
the manufacturing cycle results in
increased part output.
3. Ease of parameterizing and
maintenance: In the event of pro-
blems, the operator must be able
to troubleshoot them as fast as
possible, supported by convenient
error messages and additional
online tools, such as repair work
videos. Machine visualizing soft-
ware at the HMI (Human Machine
Interface) plays a major role in
Control Panel with TFT display,
touch screen, softkeys, and
user ID system

meeting this requirement. architecture in plastics injection by means of two coaxial cables
4. Effective operator protection: molding and advanced PC based and featuring a TFT touch screen,
Hot melt and high pressures pre- control reveals the differences: softkeys, and a user ID system.
sent a potential risk of injury which Conventional concepts in this Industrial PC, fieldbus, electronic
must be addressed both by design application area are based on terminal block - that‘s all. The hard-
and by engineering control. numerous specialized controllers ware has been reduced to the
5. Effective system protection: and hardware PLC. The PLC essential. The separate electrical
Jammed, sticking or partially remo- governs the global machine pro- cabinet for the servo motor power
ved moldings can damage the cess and - on hydraulically driven components has been eliminated,
most expensive component on the machines - communicates with an since these parts can now be
injection molding machine - the injection controller (IC), a clamp installed in the free space gained
mold. The slightest scratch in the controller (CC), and a temperature in the central control cabinet.
cavity or core surfaces will be well controller (TC). On electrical injec- Equally integrated, the softwa-
visible on the molded product and tion molding machines there are re platform is based on the langu-
can render it unusable. further controllers for operating the ages defined in the IEC 61131-3
6. Efficient use of resources: individual servo axes. The traditio- standard and has been designed
This includes reducing the envi- nal HMI is based on an Industrial as a software PLC in TwinCAT.
ronmental impact of the machine PC still without any controller func- It serves for close loop control of
by minimizing start-up and produc- tions. And everything is wired in all hydraulic cylinders and also for
tion scrap (material consumption) parallel in the control cabinet. controlling the robot sequences,
as well as power and water con- Husky‘s new control concept with a TwinCAT software NC for
sumption during production. combines all of these functions in numerical robot control. The key
Husky machines have hydro- an Industrial PC installed in the software components for control-
mechanical clamps. The screws of control cabinet, where it replaces ling a Husky machine can be orga-
the injection units are driven by all former controllers and the hard- nized in four task areas, further
a hydraulic radial piston or servo ware PLC. The machine signals explained on the following pages:
motor. Servo motor drives are also are collected and transmitted by - Hydraulics
used on the removal robots. way of a Profibus master card - Temperatures
and Beckhoff Bus Terminals con- - Robotics
One Industrial PC Replaces nected to the fieldbus. Also - Visualization
4 Conventional Controls connected decentrally to the
Two years ago, in response to the Profibus, non-contacting transdu- Husky has many years of expe-
rising requirements in the plastics cers provide the positioning infor- rience in close loop control of
injection molding markets, Husky mation of the individual hydraulic hydraulically operated machine
decided to make plans for intro- cylinders.The operating unit is ano- axes (typically at least 8 per
ducing a new PC based genera- ther Beckhoff standard product, a machine). In contrast to the past,
tion of machine controls. A com- Control Panel without any intelli- the individual controls are no
parison between traditional control gence of its own, linked to the PC „black boxes“ anymore but can be
From dowels to bumpers - a wide
range of plastic products are injec-
tion molded on Husky machines
available in a complete portfolio of
different tonnages

conveniently generated and adap- Beckhoff TwinCAT: PLC and NC on the PC

ted under the IEC 61131-3 stan- The TwinCAT software system (” The Windows Control and
dard by Husky‘s hydraulics and Automation Technology”) transforms every compatible PC
control specialists. Motion control
of a hydraulically operated positio- into a real time controller with multi-PLC, NC axis control,
ning axis is not a trivial job. The programming environment and operating station. TwinCAT
control profile is non-linear and replaces conventional PLC and NC controllers as well as ope-
also subject to limitations governed rating devices with:
by the process technology. During
injection, for instance, the injection - embedding of Software-PLC and software-NC in Windows
piston follows a multi-step forward 2000/NT, Windows NT Embedded, Windows CE
speed profile while at the same - efficient multi-PLC with 4 PLC run-time systems per PC
time limiting the injection pressure. and cycle times from 50 us. The programming environ-
As the piston advances, the con-
trol must provide for smooth transi- ment offers all languages of the IEC 61131-3 standard.
tion to hold pressure depending on - axis control for point-to-point positioning and interpolated
piston position, injection pressure path movement. Up to 256 axes can be positioned, depen-
in the barrel, or mold cavity pres- dent only on the efficiency of the PC processor. Special
sure. For suckback, the system
must again switch over to speed functions such as ”cam plate” or ”flying saw” are suppor
control with subsequent positio- ted.
ning control on the starting position - connection to all common fieldbusses and PC interfaces
for the next injection cycle. for I/O signals: Profibus, CANopen, DeviceNet, Interbus,
The scalability of the CPUs in an
Industrial PC helps to minimize Sercos, Beckhoff Lightbus and PC-Hardware
response times to milliseconds as - data sharing with user interfaces and other programs
needed to control the high piston by means of open Microsoft standards (OLE, OCX, Acti-
speeds during injection. veX, DCOM+, OPC etc.)
Temperature Control with
an IEC 61131-3 Functional
Software Block
Temperature control is also pro-
grammed in the IEC 61131-3 lan-
guages. A plastics injection mol-
ding system can have more than
100 control zones for heating the
machine as well as the mold
New Automation Technology -
based of standard Control Panel
from Beckhoff

and its hot runner manifold and User access is authorized and For the future Husky has recogni-
nozzles. The temperature control controlled by means of a memory zed a need to focus on modular
blocks, developed in cooperation chip in the size of a keyring pen- machine design and „zero engi-
by Husky and Beckhoff, provide dant. This ID token is plugged into neering“ tools for simplified pro-
convenient functions e.g. self- the Control Panel and can store up gramming and flexible response to
tuning, adaptive power-up, smooth to 32 kB of data, including e.g. the customer and market needs. Beck-
switch-over from manual to auto- user‘s profile. hoff TwinCAT has become a cen-
matic mode, predefined response tral pillar in this architecture.
to hardware failures such as ther- Cui Bono?
mocouple breakage, open heater, Obviously, important benefits are
etc. The function blocks can be cost savings derived from the use
instantiated. In other words, adding of a fieldbus system and elimina-
a heating zone is the same as defi- ting specialized control hardware.
ning a variable. The control solution can be adap-
Control of the electrical robot ted as required through the per-
axes is programmed by using pre- formance of the selected Industrial
defined function blocks for axial PC. The overall control configu-
motion control, available in the ration has become more transpa-
TwinCAT NC library. As TwinCAT rent for Husky and is based on
supports various different fieldbus standards e.g. Windows NT/2000
systems, Husky selected SERCOS and IEC 61131-3. This means that
for the drives. Husky has complete control of its
The fourth software component injection molding as well as the
- visualization - has been designed entire engineering control know-
by Husky to run under Windows how. And while it is not accessible
NT. The operating philosophy is by the regular machine operator,
focused on touchscreen operation TwinCAT always provides a runti-
combined with the softkeys of me and programming environment
Beckhoff‘s Control Panel. Critical right at every machine. This opens
machine functions, for instance all the familiar possibilities of the
those involving mechanical move- PC world, such as high-capacity
ments, are initiated by means of hard disk drives, teleservice by
PLC keys below the screen, i.e. for modem and Ethernet, links to
the PLC to check before enabling further machines by serial inter-
the requested function. TwinCAT‘s faces or LAN, communication with
software interface provides access SCADA systems, and use of exter-
to control parameters, alarm mes- nal, Windows-compatible process
sages, time records, statistics, etc. optimization software.