Machinery News

Arburg forging own path down road to digital transformation

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany—At Arburg GmbH & Co. K.G.’s 13,350-sq.-ft. split-level booth at the Fakuma trade fair, visitors can see the injection molding machinery maker’s modernized color scheme—mint green, light gray and dark gray—and experience a bolder commitment to increasingly digital efforts in manufacturing.

Arburg is calling it the “road to digitalization,” where the Lossburg, Germany-based company is forging its own path and guiding customers toward efficient and future-proof plastic parts production.

But it’s not the first time Arburg has put the topic of digitalization on center stage at a plastics industry trade show.

More than 30 years ago, at K 1986, the machinery maker unveiled a fully integrated injection molding system, said Heinz Gaub, managing director of technology and engineering at Arburg.

“Back then, we were ahead of our time, and we have subsequently gone on continuously to develop our Arburg ALS host computer system as an important module for Industry 4.0,” he said in an email interview with Plastics News before the show.

“Over the past few years, the topic of digitization is one that we have driven forward consistently as a pioneer in our sector, and this has always been reflected in our trade fair appearances,” Gaub said. “Throughout this time, it has never ceased to gain in importance.”

Juliane Hehl, a managing partner at the family-owned company who also handles marketing, echoed those views.

“As in the past, we recognize future trends very early and respond by developing the appropriate products and services,” she said in an email. “Furthermore, as a pioneer, we focus on important topics and continuously drive them forward.”

In March 2018, Arburg launched six assistance packages that are available for all of its Allrounder injection molding presses. The packages—ranging from its “4.setup” for supporting machine operators with setup and parameter entry to “4.service” for direct access to the machine control system via online support—are on display at the booth as part of Arburg’s smart machine objective, where the machine is capable of monitoring its own processes and adaptively controls them.

Individual features are made available with Arburg’s Gestica or Selogica control systems and actively support the operator according to the production requirements, Gaub said.

Arburg also is debuting its new cloud-based customer portal, which provides plastics processors with equipment information, including a machinery overview and a spare parts catalog for each machine.

In the future, he said, Arburg customers will have access to additional apps and services via the customer portal.

In addition, the company is launching its turnkey system—the Arburg Turnkey Control Module (ATCM)—on a 100-metric-ton, all-electric Allrounder press. The ATCM uses OPC-UA interfaces to collect data from the injection molding process and camera inspection, and then assigns it to the relevant component with a QR code. Visitors can scan the code with their smartphones to bring up the corresponding process data.

“ATCM visualizes important system functions from the overall process, merges part-specific data from the production process and quality control, and transfers the data sets to an evaluation system,” Gaub said. “This ensures 100 percent traceability of individual parts or component assemblies.”

The traceability of parts is playing an increasingly vital role in the automotive and medical technology industries, specifically, Gaub said. With the QR code, important data such as injection parameters, temperature and air pressure can be brought up at any time from a component-specific website.

In order to continue manufacturing plastic parts efficiently in the future, Gaub added, the digitalization of production will be necessary.

For Arburg, this means offering customers a full spectrum of services and ongoing efforts for digital integration with the goal of making high-volume production more flexible, conserving resources, and increasing productivity, quality and availability.

“Our products, services and expertise mean that we are essentially the perfect partner for our customers,” Hehl said. “Arburg will help them travel safely down the road to digital transformation—no matter whether they are just starting out or have already covered part of the way.”

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