EXTRUSION: New Temperature Controller, HMI Boost Film Productivity

Nine-layer line already in use by leading multi-national film processor.

Blown-film extrusion lines furnished by Hosokawa Alpine American, Natick, Mass., are now furnished with an advanced zone temperature control system that enables faster changes in recipe and data acquisition to allow on-the-fly adjustments for enhanced production performance. Supplied by Siemens, Norcross, Ga., recent installation of this system on an nine-layer line at a large multi-national film processor is reportedly yielding trackable performance improvements.  

The Siemens system comprises a new zone temperature control, Profinet communication platform, motors, drives, PLC and touchscreen HMI.  “We were seeking a system with enhanced flexibility, so we could provide our customers a better way to change recipes in a quicker, more efficient manner, while maintaining a very high degree of product quality,”  notes Jay Ragusa v.p. of engineering at Alpine,

As the new system and other improvements were implemented into the first machine built and test-run at Alpine, a higher yield was achieved with a higher degree of control accuracy. Ragusa notes there is an additional benefit of real-time monitoring and adjustment of all machine conditions.  This new machine included up to 120 separate temperature control zones. According to Ragusa typical systems allow for a 2-3F variation in zone temperatures; with the new system that variation is reduced to less than 1 F. 

Moreover, says Ragusa, “The new industrial flat panel on the PC has a wider screen for easy viewability. Plus, our older system, while modular, had little remote I/O and the new system brings us that benefit, too.  The auto-tune function, combined with the better CPU in the PLC, gives us a much stronger package of internal software in combination with hardware.  Since we were making the transition within a Siemens protocol, no significant software conversion was required and all data feeds continue on Profinet.” 

Data transmission overall has also improved, he notes, as the communication speeds are significantly faster, plus the open architecture of the system can convey all data to the other departments seamlessly. Quick- connect, plug-and-play remote I/O hardware reduces installation, commissioning and replacement time of the system hardware. The open architecture of the control system allows end-user adjustment of control parameters to suit each specific application and stores thousands of recipe data points. Alpine routinely customizes the front end of the controller HMI to facilitate easier customer training and a seamless transition from legacy systems for operators in use.