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Conair rolls out new control platform for its auxiliary equipment
Source:Adsale Plastics Network    Editor:JK    Date:28.May.2021

Aiming to deliver a more consistent user experience and make it easier for employees to learn the operation of multiple types of auxiliary equipment, Conair is rolling out a new control platform, featuring an HMI that offers a consistent user experience regardless of the machinery involved.


The new control platform and HMI have already been implemented in the SmartFLX material handling control, truck-fill line-proofing system, blenders, and temperature-control units, with dryers scheduled to be released in Q3 and chillers and other equipment to follow. Other systems, such as Wave Conveying and Conair’s new RFID-proofed resin-selection system are controlled through the SmartFLX Platform.


In addition, all are compatible with SmartServices, Conair’s cloud-based IoT or “Industry 4.0” solution for machine monitoring and data collection. The Machine Control portion of SmartServices mirrors the same control screen that an on-the-floor operator would see.


So, anyone logging into the SmartServices dashboard and using the Machine Control feature will be familiar with the screen setup, and basic operation of the various pieces of connected equipment.


Conair is implementing a new “common control” platform.

“Having a universal control system on our equipment, will further differentiate Conair in the competitive landscape,” said Sam Rajkovich, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, “and, more importantly, it will give a leg up to processors. All the buttons will be in the same place, with the same names and color schemes, which will require very little training for an operator as they train on different equipment.”


Even with the common interface, different auxiliary equipment will continue to use screens of different sizes — 4.3, 7, 10, 15 inches, and so on – since the complexity and detail of control varies depending on the equipment type.


Blender controls, for instance, require more functionality than temperature control units and so the way information is displayed might change. However, the menu structure and navigation, set-point entry, alarm notification, icons, colors, communication protocols, and back-end hardware remain essentially the same.


The OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) data-exchange standard is the primary protocol for Conair machine controls moving forward and will be standard in all touchscreen-based controls. Since few processors are actually using OPC UA, MODBUS and other standards also continue to be supported.


However, when the plastics industry reaches a point where OPC UA becomes the primary machine-to-machine or machine-to-PC communications protocol, the Conair controls will be ready and implementation of true Industry 4.0 practices will be easier than ever.

“Managing rapidly-changing technology is a challenge for our customers as well as for Conair,” added Matt Shope, Director of Engineering. “By leveraging a common control platform, we can implement new features, new hardware, and future-proof communications across all our products with minimal risk to the customer.”



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