Rubber and tire production is based on a very complex process that requires control and coordination of different production stages. Compliance with top-quality standards is just one of many entrepreneurial challenges the sector has to face. As suppliers to the automotive industry, rubber and tire producers are subjected to strong economic cycles and therefore fluctuating demand. Other factors include enormous competitive and price pressures. What the sector needs in view of these underlying conditions are intelligent and cost-effective automation solutions. This is exactly what Beckhoff offers with its PC-based control, both for new systems and existing systems, in which the machines are often in good condition mechanically while the control and drive section is no longer state-of-the-art. In such cases, a retrofit can achieve the required adaptation to market requirements and increase the productivity and reliability of the machines many times over. Many companies are not fully automated and operate in a very labour- and cost-intensive manner. However, in the long-term, the product quality expected by end users can only be combined with cost-effectiveness and profitability of the production facilities through the application of cutting-edge production equipment.
In the tire industry the requirements for control technology are clearly defined: fast cycle times, precise positioning, flexible programming and parameterisation, adequate memory for large process images, central control for sequential and positioning control, user-friendly user interfaces, integration in shop floor networks, open interfaces – and all that at low costs. In addition, the control components must also be able to withstand the extreme industrial conditions with high contamination and high temperatures encountered in vulcanisation, for example.
Cost-effective solutions for high performance
With its extensive range of robust, high-performance Industrial PCs in compact design, without fans or rotating mass storage, industrial Control Panels, a wide range of I/O components, the high-speed EtherCAT fieldbus and cutting-edge Servo Drive Technology, Beckhoff offers an integrated, coordinated, scalable control system for the rubber and tire industry.
Through the application of top-quality industrial components Beckhoff Industrial PCs guarantee absolute reliability for 24-hour operation. Advanced processors provide ample computing power for sequential control, control and Motion Control on a single platform. The tire sector also benefits from the long-standing experience that Beckhoff has with embedded systems in the form of an extensive range of Embedded PCs in different performance classes. For each control task a tailor-made solution with regard to computing power, complexity and costs can be found based on standard components.
An industrial display unit (protection class IP 67) complements the Industrial PC. The Beckhoff Control Panels are the visually appealing front end of a tire production machine. Customers are offered an optimum control unit that is individually tailored to the requirements of the respective application. Distances of up to 100 m between the display/control unit and the control computer enable maximum flexibility.
Continuity and openness
All processes including control, regulation of pressure and temperature, Motion Control and HMI, run on a central CPU, resulting in optimum transparency and flexibility for the user. The high processor power offered by PC technology enables integration of all functions and replaces complex and expensive special hardware. The central control system, with local I/O level, also reduces the cabling effort and downtimes. Additional factors are cost and system benefits, for example due to the visualisation running on the same IPC that also deals with the machine control.
High performance thanks to EtherCAT
EtherCAT, the fast real-time Ethernet technology for industrial automation, improves the update and reaction times by at least a factor of 10 compared with conventional fieldbus technology. Apart from the standard Ethernet port, the PC controller requires no special plug-in cards. Conventional fieldbus systems such as PROFIBUS or CANopen can easily be integrated into the EtherCAT I/O system via gateways. Simple and reliable connection technology reduces the cabling effort and therefore the costs.
XFC (eXtreme Fast Control Technology), the EtherCAT-based control technology from Beckhoff, can also be used to optimise other areas of application in the tire industry, including high-precision acquisition of measuring probe events with time stamps, high-precision synchronisation of coupled servo axes, acquisition of measured values for quality assurance purposes with the aid of oversampling terminals, fast control of process pressures through fast analog terminals and TwinCAT controller structures, and high-precision and fast temperature measurement through temperature input terminals based on 4-wire technology.
It is conceivable that special hardware in measuring and testing machines will be entirely replaced by EtherCAT I/Os in the future.
TwinCAT – one software for all functions
TwinCAT, the automation software from Beckhoff, is a pure software PLC and Motion Control solution for PCs. PLC programming is based on the international IEC 61131-3 standard. Open communication interfaces support integration into existing visualisation, control and database systems. Process tracking or remote maintenance are therefore easy to realise. Comprehensive TwinCAT libraries with different control algorithms, cam and hydraulic controls, flying saw and cam plates simplify programming. Master and slave axes can be linked in almost any configuration, and the high-performance and versatile motion functions cover all requirements of the tire industry: linear master/slave couplings with variable coupling factors can be used for angularly aligned application of carcass and belt layers onto the winding drum. The cam plate functionality enables angle-dependent wrapping of bandages onto the winding drum. The measuring probe function integrated in TwinCAT enables logging of actual positions “on the fly” for determining the position and length of fabric and belt layers on supply and splice belts.
In recent years, operational and work safety have played an ever larger part in machine construction. In TwinSAFE, Beckhoff offers a uniform system solution for optimum synergy between automation and safety technology. The safety solution integrated in the fieldbus also reduces the space requirement in the control cabinet and the wiring effort.