13 Jun 2012

Multi-Axis Tube Bending Machine

Application Notes No Comments

Project: Multi-Axis Tube Bending Machine
Industry: Electronics
Application: Motion Control

A manufacturer of cooling equipment for the electronics, computer and telecommunication industries contracted EZSoft to replace the controls on a critical piece of production equipment. The customer was having significant quality and downtime issues with the original control system on their tube-bending machine. The machine has 3 axes that move and shape copper tubing into specific shapes based on requirements. EZSoft proposed a full replacement of control software. The original recipe syntax was cumbersome and hard to understand and therefore presented a training issue for the customer. Before the controls replacement, there was only one employee who could reliably operate the machine. After the replacement, that employee was able to train operators to run the machine, and engineers to edit recipes thereby freeing him up to better manage the day-to-day operations on the plant floor.

The existing control system consisted of proprietary hardware that was hard to maintain and difficult to replace. Additionally, the old system relied on Assembly Language programs for the real time control and a custom VB application for operator interface which presented a challenge for the plant in terms of debug and support.
These controls were replaced with standard “off-the-shelf” components which included an Allen Bradley ControlLogix programmable logic controller, motion cards and associated I/O. The assembly programs and custom applications were replaced with ladder logic using standard components from EZSoft’s ControlSuite™, web based Recipe Manager and Report Manager from EZSoft’s ProductionSuite™, and Allen Bradley FTViewSE displays for operator interface.

A truly unique feature of the new system was the use of ISA S88 model for motion control.

S88 Motion Control
A Phase was implemented for each motion axis to execute a motion instruction. Super-Phases were implemented that executed the simpler axis moves in a fixed sequence, in some cases executing the atomic motions in parallel which allowed the machine to make parts faster. The EZSoft batch engine was utilized in the ControlLogix PLC to sequence the machine through super-phases and phases as well.

S88 Motion Recipes
This project demonstrates the versatility of the EZSoft batch engine. The fact that motions could be represented as S88 recipes allowed for the use of EZSoft’s Recipe Manager web application for recipe editing and storage. This feature meant that engineering and R&D departments could edit tube recipes from web browsers on their desktops, which simplified their jobs and saved them time. The recipes or “programmes” from the original controls system were translated into the Recipe Manager format and then automatically inserted into the Recipe Manager database.

Technologies Used:
• EZSoft ProductionSuite™ including:
– Recipe Manager
– Report Manager

• EZSoft ControlSuite™ including:
– Batch Manager
– Phase Manager
– Device Manager
– Alarm Manager
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 w/ Reporting Services for data storage and reporting.
Rockwell Software FTViewSE for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition.
Allen Bradley ControlLogix programmable logic controllers for real time control.
Allen Bradley MO2AE Motion Cards for servo motor control.

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