When we describe something as “user-friendly” we refer to those devices designed to be extremely easy to use, even for those who are not accustomed to using new technologies. Ease of use is for sure one of WM’s thermoformers most appreciated features.
WM develops its software in-house. This means extreme flexibility and coherence with the company philosophy. Fabio Boffelli, WM’s Head of Software Development, shares some thoughts about software development and the logics behind it.
“For some time now, WM Thermoforming Machines has been working to simplify, as much as possible, the use of its thermoforming machines in several ways: for example, by simplifying the graphics of the inteface, by reducing the set-up operations required to the operator and by developing the self-adjusting algorithm.
The auto-setting: it’s all about simplicity
The self-adjusting algorithm, in particular, allows for one or more auto-setting sections in order to reduce the effort of the operator who, through a guided procedure, is asked to enter only a really small number of parameters: the material data, the product data, and little else. After that, the machine automatically processes all the operating parameters” explains Boffelli.
To achieve this result, the Swiss company’s softwarists first defined a basic mathematical model; then, with a series of on-machine tests, they tuned that model so that the estimates matched the actual readings on the machine. “That mathematical model also allowed us to save material with each new production startup,” Boffelli pointed out.
“With the previous system, when making a new piece, at the first cycle start the operator had to test and experiment. For example, he had to set the temperature based on his experience. If too high, the machine would stop, or if too low the piece would not be formed correctly. This meant also a waste of material. With the new software developed in-house by WM, even a less experienced operator can start right away with a more effective approach.”
The logic behind machine diagnostics
“All of our thermoforming machines are equpped with a modem connection allowing to see remotely what the operator is doing. There are two diagnostic logics involved:
1) in case of an anomaly, we can understand where and how it occurred;
2) the operator can monitor the working condition in every moment, save the parameters and view any relevant variation on the display for a quick restoring of the optimal condition.”
More cost-effective thermoforming with Industry 4.0
The “connected factory”, where the machine data are integrated in the factory system, is a very popular topic, especially in those European countries where Industry 4.0 enables the machine purchaser not only to improve operational efficiency, but also to access tax and business incentives. To qualify for this tax credits, the manufacturer has to meet specific technological criteria, such as the OPC-UA protocol. This protocol is platform-independent and can be easily used with Windows, Linux, Apple, Android.
We have done much work to incorporate automation and Industry 4.0 technologies into our thermoforing machines, and we have developed an efficient way to collect, manage and process data in real time so that the customer can concretely define machine performance.
Faster with B&R control of thermoforming machine axes
“New logics have been applied also to cams. B&R electronic cams reproduce automatisms once obtained with mechanical cams, but in a more flexible way. The result is that the axis movement is now smoother, more efficient, and synchronous, for an ever-faster thermoforming”.