Cincinnati—When Milacron asked their customers what additional functions were needed on the company's plastic-molding machines, the answer was more information in the hands of molder's production people on the shop floor. Siemens (Lebanon, OH) provided Milacron with a PC-based control system for making the first 100% industrial PC molding machines. "Milacron's engineers said they wanted an open architecture," says Siemens engineer Chris Vaniglia, the company's plastics market development manager. "We also knew that people would want the ability to add third-party software, so we used our Genesys™controls to allow this," he says.
"The industrial PCs on our machines now use NT 4.0," says Ron Sparer, Milacron's manager of controls development. The molding machine's new capabilities include voice and video messaging. Machine operators send and receive CAD files, mold features, troubleshooting tips, and pictures of defects with instructions for correcting them.
"We designed with Windows NT in mind, so now we bring all that functionality into our machine," says Milacron's Chief Design Engineer Ron Hertzer. He says that the Siemens control has a modular card that makes it easy for customers to add software as needed. "As molders increase and refine their operations, they want NT for the ability to upgrade later," he says.
Siemens also helped Milacron lower machine cost by designing an I/O subsystem that eliminated the use of analog wires to a linear feedback device. Additional applications for the Siemens controllers include blow molding and extruding operations.
Are they robots or androids? We're not exactly sure. Each talking, gesturing Geminoid looks exactly like a real individual, starting with their creator, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University in Japan.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.