Programming time slashed by 30%

An integrated, component-based HMI program brought time-saving design features to this OEM.

When Roberts PolyPro was asked to build a machine that would automatically form two-piece paperboard beverage carriers at speeds to 425 carriers/min, control engineers knew that, based on past experience, the controls components would need to be from Rockwell Automation. After all, in building a comparable machine in 1999, they used Rockwell’s Allen-Bradley SLC 5/04 PLC for control. And to help reduce engineering time for a second-generation version of the same machine, they relied on an Allen-Bradley ControlLogix controller for machine control functions.

In designing the 425 carriers/min version of its carrier erector, Roberts PolyPro engineers wanted to further reduce programming time. So instead of using the HMI software they used on the previous two carrier erectors, they switched to Rockwell Software RSView®32™ HMI software running on an Allen-Bradley VersaView 1200P industrial PC.

“RSView32 uses Microsoft’s Visual Basic for Applications as a built-in programming language,” says Ray Neel, controls engineering manager at Roberts PolyPro. “That’s why it makes our programming easier and faster.”

Another feature offered by RSView32 is the ability to integrate ActiveX controls. This, too, appealed to Neel and his colleagues as a time saver. They needed to include large onscreen numeric keypads on the operator screens of the beverage carrier assembly machine. To add this feature, Neel simply conducted a Web search for ActiveX numeric keypads, found an appropriate keypad, and instantly made it part of the application.

“In addition to the VBA and ActiveX savings, the ability to browse directly from RSView32 into the processor for tag names was another way we saved time,” says Neel. “This browsing capability is much easier than writing down the tag names and transposing them into a third-party package.” Tag names are user-defined names that provide a user-friendly way to reference memory locations.

After the assembly machine was built, Roberts PolyPro saved yet more time during the equipment debugging stage. Using the ControlLogix controller and the Rockwell Software RSLogix™ 5000 programming software, says Neel, Roberts PolyPro was able to cut its debugging time by an estimated 50%.

“While we were debugging the machine, I used the RSLogix trend charting function to plot actual position versus commanded position of a given servo motor,” says Neel. “This allowed me to see if the motor was going what it was supposed to do.”

Roberts PolyPro engineers also used an Allen-Bradley Kinetix® 600 multi-axis servo drive in its newest machine, which helped reduce wiring and programming time, and simplified operation and diagnostics.

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