Products used: Advanced Blending Solutions heats up plastic-based packaging innovation

Beckhoff Automation PC-based control and EtherCAT products help reduce programming time and panel costs by 25% with Beckhoff panel PCs, TwinCAT PLC software, and EtherCAT I/O.


With the Beckhoff CP6202, a 15-in “built-in” panel PC with a powerful Intel Celeron 1.9 GHz dual-core processor, ABS can efficiently control machine construction and plant engineering applications. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationAdvanced Blending Solutions LLC (ABS) aims to remain competitive in the flexible packaging industry by offering custom plastic blending and extrusion control packages and flexible solutions that are robust, affordable, and innovative. Here are the products ABS used and why.

ABS decided to offer its Simplicity Series blenders with an Industrial PC (IPC) technology from Beckhoff Automation in 2007.

“We started down the Beckhoff path after learning more about its overall machine automation capabilities. Considering the number of systems ABS manufactures per year, having a Beckhoff technology option gave us the ability to more easily manage our equipment by standardizing on a uniform control platform consisting of Beckhoff panel PCs, TwinCAT PLC software, and EtherCAT I/O,” explained James Wood, ABS director of engineering.

The intuitive and feature-rich control systems newly developed by ABS are enabled by touchscreen panel PCs. With the integration of the Beckhoff CP6202, a 15-in built-in panel PC, which is equipped with a powerful Intel Celeron 1.9 GHz dual core processor, ABS can efficiently and effectively control machine construction and plant engineering applications. Power, functionality, and flexibility led ABS to use the CP6202 panel PC as the “standard” control display for its applications.

“The CP6202 panel PC gives us everything we need, such as impressive power from multi-core processor technology,” Wood said. “In addition, the panel PC features Compact Flash as the storage media, meaning it’s an exceptionally stable piece of hardware which is of critical importance in the harsh environments typical of plastics applications.” PC-based control also enables ABS to scale up and down to various system sizes and provides the ability to run on Microsoft Windows 7 OS and the InduSoft HMI platform, which is used to program the visualization for the system.

With the blend of TwinCAT, EtherCAT I/O, and panel PCs working together, ABS has reduced programming time, making it much easier to streamline and shorten the company’s product development cycles. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationAdvanced Blending Solutions continued its machine modernization campaign with the addition of powerful programming software using the TwinCAT PLC, Beckhoff’s core programming system. TwinCAT integrates real-time control with a PLC system, motion control, and a programming environment in one package.

“The power behind the software and ability to organize our plastics application code into libraries has been great for programming and using structured text versus our original system,” Wood explained. “Blending, extrusion control, and material handling are all functions TwinCAT PLC software expertly supports in ABS blending/extrusion systems.” Using a TwinCAT- and Microsoft Windows 7-enabled IPC has also revealed new opportunities for other features ABS can offer, such as enhanced data collection, custom reporting, and remote access for ABS support teams and customers. In addition, it helped establish worldwide ABS network integration.

On the networking side, Beckhoff’s EtherCAT I/O and Bus Terminal I/O is used throughout Advanced Blending Solutions’ blending/extrusion systems. The EtherCAT I/O system provides simple connectivity to the CANopen components used on ABS machines. EtherCAT I/O nodes are equipped with EK1100 EtherCAT Couplers. In addition, using the EL6751 CANopen master terminal, it is possible to transmit data from all connected CANopen devices over one standard Ethernet cable and one EtherCAT network.

“EtherCAT is the standard network for our Beckhoff control solution, with approximately 99% of our Beckhoff controls and I/O devices having EtherCAT connections,” Wood said.

“TwinCAT has enabled us to simplify the entire programming process, which is extremely beneficial to us,” explained Wood. “We took full advantage of PC-based controls and there’s no need to implement a separate stand-alone PLC; TwinCAT is a clear driver for simplifying our engineering processes. Using Beckhoff panel PC technology has saved ABS between 20% and 30% on control hardware costs.”

Beckhoff Automation products helped ABS blending machines be more effective. Courtesy: Beckhoff AutomationAdvanced Blending Solutions also can offer customers energy savings with its velocity control product. “Utilizing PC-based control and EtherCAT to moderate speed and manage our control algorithms, we’ve achieved energy savings of 30% in the material conveying process through better velocity control of the pumps,” said Wood.

Based on previous successes, “we will work with Beckhoff to come up with another innovative control solution for these new systems in development,” explained Wood.

- Submitted by Beckhoff Automation. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering and Plant Engineering,


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