Heating/Cooling: TCUs Ready for Industry 4.0
New “smart” TCUs from Single send process data to a Smart Hub and then to a web portal for remote monitoring, control, and service.
At the recent Fakuma 2018 show in Germany, Single introduced the Smart Line series of temperature-control units (TCUs), described as “Industry 4.0 ready.” These units incorporate an extensive array of fieldbus interfaces—20-mA TTY, RS232, RS485, Euromap 66, Profibus, and OPC UA—in order to send data to a web portal accessible from anywhere, anytime. The TCU with 7-in. touchscreen is linked via a local network and to a Smart Hub, a mini server the size of one’s hand. TCU machine data collected by the Smart Hub is transmitted to the Single Data Portal through an encrypted https connection. The Smart Hub provides a website (Single Net) that can be accessed by PCs and mobile devices, as well as by Single service teams to provide diagnostic support (only with permission of the user). In this system, the “cloud” for offline data storage is located at the user’s plant within the Smart Hub.
The portal can send email alerts is case a process drifts out of limits and suggests potential solutions. (For example, a “Flow below limits” message might be accompanied by a suggestion to check for a clogged filter.) Also available is a spare-parts list. More advanced options include rule-based predictive maintenance and energy monitoring and optimization.
The Single Net site includes a dashboard that shows all connected Smart Line units and key data such as set and actual temperatures, flow rate, and pressure. Any individual unit can be selected for more detailed examination, including a graphical overview of historical data for a selectable time period (up to four weeks). More than 100 parameters are logged ever 5 sec. The unit can also be operated via remote control from the website.
In addition, Single introduced the Water Compact WK3 series of portable TCUs with energy-saving variable-speed pumps. They can provide water at 90 C to 180 C. They have insulated tanks, pipes, heaters, and heat exchangers—all designed to minimize heat inside the cabinet, leading to longer life of the unit’s electronics. This insulation, plus the variable-frequency pump drive (VFD) are said to save up to 70% in energy use and allow for up to 30% savings in cycle times. WK 3 units are available with heating capacity from 3 to 9 kW. They have a 3.5-in. touchscreen and can control to a water in/out ΔT.
Injection molders are warming up to the idea of cycling their tool surface temperature during the molding cycle rather than keeping it constant.
The hot-and-cold molding process gives molders a new tool to achieve top-quality esthetics or to fill challenging thin-wall parts. There are a number of options in heating methods, and this article discusses the ins and outs of each.
New technology to debut next month at NPE warns when preventive maintenance is needed, before equipment failure disrupts production.