Fakuma 2023 serves as the launching pad for technologies aimed at improving plastics processing. One of the highlights of this exhibition is the vast improvement in the injection moulding process with many big players in the industry offering their portfolio of machinery and equipment to enhance the efficiency and end-product quality of their customers. ENGEL, for instance, is launching its part finder and mould temperature control system at FAKUMA 2023.
Smart application to identify spare parts
To guarantee efficient production with a high level of machine availability, the right spare part needs to be on site quickly when the need arises. Because an injection moulding machine or production cell consists of many parts, purchasing spare parts is often more complex than it might appear at first glance. For one thing, injection moulding machines have often been in use for many years, or even decades. The expert knowledge of the system’s details is often lost when a long-standing machine operator retires. Another factor is that parts wear and get dirty, which makes part identification difficult in any production environment. Additionally, companies are using digital tools to compensate for the lack of skilled personnel in the industry.
The solution goes by the name of ENGEL part finder - an application that lets users identify and order virtually any part of an ENGEL injection moulding machine in an uncomplicated way. The development of part finder took into consideration the feedback from customers who tested the system. The result is an intuitive and easy-to-use tool to support day-to-day operations. Available free of charge as a feature of the ENGEL econnect customer portal, part finder is always at hand when needed: all it takes is a mobile device with online access or a computer with an internet connection. Users who are logged in can launch the web application while working on the customer portal.
The tool offers various options for identifying parts, including a convenient, image-based spare parts search function. Users can take a picture of the part in question with their mobile phone or tablet cameras, and define the image section to be used for the search. Alternatively, images can be mailed to the Purchasing department. The purchasing coordinator can then use the image file in part finder to identify the part. Besides this visual search, the smart software supports the user with various advanced options, such as a key word and synonym search and a smart parts list search.
One of part finder’s main advantages is that it cannot only identify new parts of the latest machine models, but it can also recognise dirty, worn or defective parts of older machines – from cables to pumps. The part finder’s database includes injection moulding machines which are up to 20 years old, along with other systems. In the exceptional case that part finder is unable to find the part a user is looking, experts from ENGEL Customer Service can provide support.
The order function is a big help in daily operations. The identified parts can be ordered with a single click in ENGEL part finder – and the shopping cart feature also allows ordering multiple parts. On initiating the order process with a click, the application generates an email, which can either be sent directly to ENGEL as an order or forwarded internally for approval. This helps in avoiding ordering wrong parts by mistake and improves efficiency in spare parts procurement. ENGEL part finder is therefore a valuable tool in daily operations and maintenance.
Making it easy to monitor mould temperature control
Mould temperature control has a significant impact on product quality and the energy efficiency of the injection moulding process. To take even greater advantage of the resulting potential for process optimisation, ENGEL is making it easy to get started with electronic temperature difference monitoring, beginning with the new eco-flomo temperature control water manifold system at Fakuma 2023. The new eco-flomo temperature control system is suitable for continuous monitoring of all injection mould cooling and temperature control circuits and ensures transparency during the temperature control process. It detects irregularities to help boost process stability and reliability.
eco-flomo is integrated into the ENGEL injection moulding machine’s CC300 control unit. To make this possible, the new temperature control system uses the iQ flow control software platform for mould temperature control developed by ENGEL. The pressure, temperature and flow rate values are presented on the machine display in a neat and easy-to-understand format. These numbers are also saved on the system to ensure complete documentation – for instance, to satisfy record-keeping requirements in the medical technology or automotive industries.
The eco-flomo is available in two different designs: a basic version for straightforward flow rate and temperature difference monitoring and the eco-flomo plus version, which also comes with manually operated valves. These valves make it possible for the machine operator to manually set the flow rate in the individual temperature control circuits to suit their specific needs.
Relative to its predecessor (the flomo), the eco-flomo’s performance levels have been enhanced, with the maximum temperature increasing to 120°C. The maximum pressure is 10 bar.
In launching the first flomo electronic temperature control water manifold system, ENGEL was making advances in the mould temperature control space as far back as K 2010. A few years later, this was followed by the e-flomo, which can use flow rate monitoring to automatically control either the flow rates or the temperature difference in each and every circuit. iQ flow control then saw ENGEL take the next step. This software is capable of connecting the e-temp- series temperature control units and the injection moulding machine via OPC UA to create a single unit. It is also able to control the pump speed in the temperature control units in line with the operator’s needs based on the values measured by the e-flomo. This reduces energy consumption by up to 85%. To take full advantage of the potential offered by integrated temperature control, ENGEL has developed the new eco-flomo and eco-flomo plus to allow for upgrades at any time. Only the hardware needs to be replaced ahead of an upgrade, as eco-flomo and eco-flomo plus already use the iQ flow control platform.
In the medical exhibit at ENGEL’s booth, the company is demonstrating the production of pen needle shields for hypodermic syringes from polypropylene in a 96-cavity mould on an all-electric e-mac injection moulding machine. As part of this application, the temperature control circuits will be split between the eco-flomo and the e-flomo. Both systems’ measured values are displayed on a shared screen page on the e-mac machine’s CC300 control unit.
Temperature control errors continue to be a highly frequent cause of rejects in injection moulding production. In addition, temperature control accounts for more than 40% of energy consumption in injection moulding. From ENGEL’s perspective, these two factors have been the motivation to devote almost 15 years of considerable effort into injection moulding temperature control processes and continuing to expand its product platform for integrated, electronically monitored and efficiency-driven process temperature control.