Keep your Control Systems Competitive and Up-to-date

How do we keep our Control Systems ahead of competition and provide enough flexibility with all the latest technology trends?

Traditional control systems used by competition are either proprietary embedded controllers or a “closed” HMI married with a PLC. Most HMI products force integrators to use their HMI software, thus limiting their capability. Enhancements and updates are usually slow to come, making it difficult to keep up with technology. On the control side, PLC’s have evolved very little over the years. Support for scripting and larger function libraries help, but developing advanced & adaptive control algorithms are difficult to impossible on most PLC platforms.

Metro Weighing & Automation has developed a hybrid control strategy using Advantech’s PPC-123 (Pentium III/Celeron based panel PC with 12.1” color TFT LCD & optional touch screen) and an IPC-6606 (6-slot desktop/wall-mount chassis with PS/2 power supply) married with a FPM-3150G-U (industrial 15” flat panel monitor with direct-VGA port), letting the PC and PLC do what they’re designed to do. Simple control tasks are left to the PLC, while the complex control algorithms and HMI are done on the PC.

For example, on a packaging system, the PLC is responsible for the conveyor control, while the PC controls the actual container filling process. This removes some of the burden from the PC and still allows the customer to connect to the PLC and make changes to the system if they decide to add peripheral equipment themselves. The PC also sends watchdog signals to the PLC at regular intervals. If the PC ever fails, the PLC is able to shut the system down and alarm. With the availability of CompactFlash and Fanless/diskless systems, these failures are becoming a thing of the past.

The end result is the capability to compete on an entirely different level. Metro Weighing & Automation has several customers single-source them for the sole reason that no one else can offer the ease of use and integration capabilities of their systems. Case in point: On a typical packaging system, there are a variety of parameters (typically 10-12) that have to be set-up on a per-part basis. The production and accuracy of a machine relies on these parameters being set optimally. This task is left in the hands of an operator that may or may not be reliable enough to properly achieve this task. With the power and flexibility Metro Weighting & Automation has in their control system, they are able to design software (iPack™) that takes this burden away from the operator.

They simply select a part number and press start. The machine will automatically adjust itself to the optimal speed for the desired accuracy.

Going one step further, Metro Weighing & Automation is able to integrate with any peripheral equipment or computer network. They’ve designed their iPack software such that it can connect to a customer’s network and receive order information in real time. This allows orders to be processed directly off the pack line, with little or no operator intervention. With the press of the start button in iPack, an entire pack line can be setup automatically. They can form, fill, seal, label, verify label data, palletize, and stretch wrap all on one integrated line, automatically controlled from a single industrial PC. With the tight integration to a customer’s network, orders are guaranteed to be completed with the correct labeling requirements. iPack will also notify the computer system what it did so inventory numbers can be updated automatically. Production information can be logged to a central server and can run web-based reports from any computer in the world.

To continue to move forward with the growing trends in their market, Metro Weighing & Automation plans to replace the PPC-123 with Advantech’s TPC-1260H (Crusoe.5800 TPC with high-luminance 12.1” SVGA TFT LCD display) and replace the IPC-6606 with the Advantech’s UNO-2170 (Celeron M 1 GHz universal network controller with PC/104 extension).

Metro Weighing & Automation - Founded in 1971 as Metro Scale, MWA’s principles were developed and etched into the company from the start. Starting out as a scale sales and service company, MWA realized the importance of working with customers and becoming a partner in improving their operations. This team effort approach has played a role in virtually all of MWA’s innovations. In 1980, MWA introduced the first automatic Furnace Loading System using scales and vibratory feeders. This new approach to loading a belt furnace was quickly adopted by the heat treat industry. As a result, MWA has replaced and/or upgraded most of the existing furnace loading equipment across North America. In 1990, MWA partnered with an existing company to improve their packaging operation. The end result was MWA’s first Packaging System, controlled by a user-friendly industrial PC interface. In an effort to provide better products and services, MWA began selling and integrating carton erecting, carton sealing, labeling, barcode scanning, palletizing, and stretch wrapping products. This made MWA a one-stop shop for packaging equipment, including integration and service. In 2001, MWA introduced iPack„· to control their full line of automatic linear Filling Systems. This innovative control system allowed MWA’s Filling Systems to reach a new level of efficiency and productivity. It also opened up a market to enhance existing Filling Systems by simply upgrading the control system. Today, Metro Weighing & Automation continues to put their capabilities to work in finding solutions to a vast array of problems. Housed in a new 25,000 sq. ft. facility in Taylor, Michigan, MWA is a fully integrated company with in-house engineering, fabrication, electrical design, and software development capabilities.

Advantech Corporation, Industrial Automation Group - Founded in 1983, the Industrial Automation Group of Advantech Corporation is the only complete PC-based Industrial Automation Solution Manufacturer offering products such as Industrial PCs, Workstations, Panel PCs, Flat Panel Monitors, Heavy Environmental PCs, Customized PCs, Single Board Computers, Data Acquisition & Control Devices and Web-enabled products for a wide array of industries. Drawing on the talents of more than 1,800 people, Advantech operates an extensive sales and marketing network in 16 countries and 35 major cities to deliver fast time-to-market services to our worldwide customers. Today Advantech offers over 700 products and solutions, adding 30 new products each year. US operations for the Industrial Automation Group are based in Cincinnati, OH (877-294-8989). Advantech Corporation, Industrial Automation Group, 1320 Kemper Meadow Drive, Suite 500, Cincinnati, OH 45240. Website for Advantech customers in North America: Email: [email protected]