Conair enhances FLX material-handling control system

August 092011
Conair enhances FLX material-handling control system

August 8, 2011 - The FLX material-handling control system from Conair – developed for plastics processors who want a simple, entry-level material-handling system that can grow with them – is now available in a larger configuration to serve up to 64 loaders and 20 vacuum conveying pumps. This top-end capacity is double that of the original FLX system.

Designed to be affordable and easy to install and expand, a processor could start with an FLX system to manage just 8 loaders and 2 pumps (one primary pump and one back-up pump), and then increase capacity and capabilities in manageable increments when necessary, simply by adding input and output cards. The system can include such high-level functions as multi-source/multi-destination loading, purge, ratio loading, ratio loading with purge, reverse conveying for regrind recovery, loader fill sensing, output sharing between FLX control panels, Ethernet communication and much more.

The PLC-based system has a 5.6-inch color touch screen operator interface on the central control box. The graphical display is easy to read, easy to use and requires minimal, if any, operator training. Color-coded icons let operators know the status of connected equipment at a glance. Any interruptions to optimum processing are clearly signaled for fast resolution with no nuisance alarms. Alarms can be programmed as active (disabling the device being alarmed) or passive, allowing operation to continue until maintenance staff can identify the problem. Built-in help screens simplify troubleshooting.

To give production personnel convenient access to set-up and data screens, up to six remote human-machine interface units (HMIs) can be connected to the system via Ethernet link. A built-in webserver allows any personal computer on the same network to display the system status as a web page.

The FLX is affordable and easy to install and expand, and even a small-scale system can have many advanced capabilities. For instance, loader demands for material are handled on a first in/first out (FIFO) basis. Most other controls simply poll every loader sequentially, which means some loaders may actually run out of material before they can be filled. With the FLX control, however, demands are filled in the order received. Any loaders on any pump can even be given priority status, becoming the next receiver filled regardless of what other demands may exist in the system.

When configured for ratio loading, the control can be programmed to load either virgin or regrind first. Layering sequences can be calculated automatically or manually.