Increasing product variety, changing batch sizes and cost pressures from global competition necessitate manufacturing systems that offer optimum productivity, flexibility and precision. This requires fine-tuned production processes with minimum downtime, short setup times and advanced control technology. This is where PC-based control technology from Beckhoff comes to the fore.
PC Control: lean control architecture and higher performance
Numerous applications such as presses, cutting, bending and welding facilities worldwide have demonstrated the benefits of PC-based control technology from Beckhoff: All processes, including control, regulation, motion control and visualisation, run on a single PC equipped with TwinCAT automation software. This not only simplifies the control architecture and results in higher performance and improved production quality, the application of cutting-edge technology standards also ensures a high degree of investment security for the user.
The high processing power of PC-based technology eliminates the need for complex and expensive special hardware, as the functionality of these outdated methods is increasingly migrating into the software. The PC effortlessly deals with even the complex control algorithms while offering additional capacity for other functions such as measuring tasks. Beckhoff automation platforms can now be found not only in the actual presses, but also in the entire periphery including coil processing, strip straightening machines, cutting and punching machines, transfer devices, feeders, as well as loading and removal stations.
EtherCAT – maximum performance and precision
Sheet metal working processes have to be fast and precise while offering high repeat accuracy. This is an ideal area of application for EtherCAT, the ultra fast real-time Ethernet technology from Beckhoff. EtherCAT improves the update and reaction times by at least a factor of 10 compared with conventional fieldbus technology, resulting in higher speed and precision. All inputs and outputs at the field level can be read and output synchronously with an accuracy of ~10 ns and provided with a time stamp by means of the Distributed Clocks of the EtherCAT system. For example, in order to start the pre-acceleration of the die cushion in a press control system reproducibly at the right moment, the position and velocity of the ram must be measured precisely. Special “black-box hardware” for die cushion control is no longer required. Beyond an individual PC the process synchronisation system can even deal with a whole production facility.
TwinCAT – all functions integrated into one software package
TwinCAT automation software provides machine manufacturers with a development environment and a programming standard (IEC 61131) for any control task, ranging from small bus controllers to computer networks for complex manufacturing plants. TwinCAT controls the individual sheet metal processing stages precisely and highly productively. TwinCAT NC and TwinCAT CNC replace all previous motion control systems with dynamic servo axes. Even complex bending algorithms can be easily programmed in TwinCAT. Retrospective modifications and adaptations can be implemented without problem.
Integrated diagnostic options complement the programming environment. Comprehensive TwinCAT libraries with temperature, cam and hydraulic controllers, “flying saw” and “cam plates” greatly simplify programming. In addition, machine manufacturers are able to integrate system-specific control expertise in the form of their own software libraries, distinguishing their machines from the competition, even if identical control components have been applied.