Quality built industrial equipment can often outlive the PLC and other industrial controls that make it operate. Patti Engineering has a long history of performing control system upgrades to keep valuable capital equipment in operation well past the intended life of the original control systems in order to maximize asset value and return on investment.
We recently completed a project for one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturing organizations and are pleased to share some of the details with the Patti Engineering community. Our engineers conducted control system upgrades for three obsolete control systems on UBE Injection Molding Machines (IMM). The customer brought us in to update its original Mitsubishi A Series PLC control systems installed on the IMMs, which Mitsubishi no longer supports. We knew that in order to avoid costly production downtime, the machine’s controls needed to be upgraded from the legacy A Series PLC to the new Mitsubishi Q Series PLC control systems.
And that’s just what we did. Plus, we upgraded the Human Machine Interface’s (HMIs) on the IMM machines to current technology. We recreated the functionality of the current Indusoft HMI application and updated the operator interface PC to a 64 bit, Windows 7 system. This conversion ensures uninterrupted machine performance and reliability with the added efficiencies and functionality the modern technology provides.
The customer has since gained the many advantages of the technological advances in automation while extending the usable life of valuable capital equipment.
For those of you interested in a deep dive into more of the technical information:
Main Control Panel
The main control panel of the UBE injection mold machines consisted of three QnA PLC racks connected with two AC12B extension cables. On the main rack there is a Q4ACPU responsible for process control of the UBE Injection Mold Machine. Throughout the rack there are a series of input, output, and special function modules. Patti Engineering updated the following modules from A -> Q:
- Rack/Power Supply/CPU upgrade
- Analog Inputs upgrade
- Analog Outputs upgrade
- High-speed counter upgrade
- Single-axis positioning module upgrade
- Network Modules:
- AJ71QC24N serial communication module (HMI) upgrade
- AJ71UC24 computer link module (TCU) upgrade
- AJ71PT32-S3 link master module (RIO) convert to CC-Link
- AJ71QE71N-B5T Ethernet module (Hot Runner, PC station, & Nissan manufacturing network) upgrade
- AJ71QC24N-R2 serial communication module (PC modem) upgrade
- AJ71AT21B MELSECNET/B data link module (Hot Runner PLC) convert to MELSECNET/10
Hot Runner Panel
The Hot Runner is used to control temperature and controls of the mold heaters based off of information sent and received through the operator’s station, the IMM PLC, and feedback from field devices. The hot runner communicates to the IMM PLC and HMI through a combination of MELSECNET/B data link and Ethernet. Each IMM has its own hot runner panels. The following A-Series AJ71AT21B MELSECNET/B data link module (IMM PLC) was converted to MELSECNET/10.
Shuttle Table Panel
The Shuttle Table Panel is used to control the mold shuttle. The mold shuttle is responsible for loading molds to and from the IMM and mold storage. The shuttle table communicates with the IMM to receive directive on what machine the mold goes to or the location of where the mold is stored and needs to be picked up from. The shuttle table panel consists of its own PLC controlled by an A2ASCPU which is networked through parallel/serial communication to the IMM panel. Patti Engineering installed a new A1SJ61QBT11 CC-link master module (IMM PLC) and Hokuyo Optical Data Transmitter BWF-17A/1 (IMM PLC) to upgrade the Shuttle Table control system.
The original Operator PC work station was an industrial PC running Windows NT. There are a total of 3 PC’s (one for each UBE) used to run the HMI applications. Each UBE machine has a PC connected to the PLC via Serial communication to send and receive operation data. Each PC is equipped with an added dual output serial card in a PCI expansion slot, which is capable of communicating via RS-232, RS-422, or RS-485(currently connected as RS-485). The software loaded on each PC was Indusoft Web Studio which was updated to the customer’s current standard HMI package.