INJECTION MOLDING: Easy-to-Use Process Monitor Designed for Shop-Floor Technicians

Monitors machine parameters, performs automatic process audits, and instructs on how to get a process back into spec.

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This month sees the commercial release of new injection molding process-monitoring software from RJG Inc., Traverse City Mich., that was previewed at the K 2016 show in Dusseldorf (see Jan. ’17 Keeping Up). RJG’s CoPilot is designed to be so simple and easy to use that it can help technicians of all experience levels keep a process on target. Unlike RJG’s eDART system, which monitors both machine and mold variables and is aimed at engineers, the CoPilot focuses on the machine parameters of interest to shop-floor technicians and does not require advanced training.

CoPilot takes data directly from the sensors on the machine—such as linear position transducers, hydraulic-pressure transducers, and load cells. The CoPilot monitors variables (sensed directly or calculated) such as backpressure, fill time and pressure, shot size, cushion, transfer position, pack/hold times and pressures, cycle time, cooling time, part-removal time, and material viscosity.

The system compares actual process parameters to setpoints and issues real-time notifications if the process is out of limits. In such a case, any non-conforming parts are automatically contained, eliminating the need for sorting. CoPilot also offers step-by-step instructions on how to bring a process back to set parameters by prioritizing the most important out-of-spec variables. The system records who fixed the issue and when.

For medical and automotive molders that must adhere to a validated process, CoPilot performs automatic process audits, in place of periodic manual process checks to confirm that setpoints on the press match what is on the setup sheet. Instead, the CoPilot does this 24/7 and in real time. CoPilot records change log data, showing what parameters were changed, when, and by whom.