VIDEO: Machine Tool Maker Brings Controls into the 21st Century
Over the years, machine controls have become increasingly complex. What started out as two hand wheels on the old manual mills has become a full-fledged computer terminal with advanced functionality. Unfortunately, what seems like an advanced system may not be particularly user-friendly.
Hartford Innovation, a Taiwan-based machining center manufacturer, likens the changes in controls to those in telephones. A classic landline can make calls, but a smartphone can connect to the internet, take pictures and run various apps.
The company sough to replicate this difference in developing its Hartrol Plus controller (of course, whether they achieved this goal is for machine operators to decide). Like smartphones, the controls are designed to provide full functionality while being user-friendly.
The company has also developed a process automation system called SmartCenter, which is intended to manage workflows from the initial order all the way up to quality assurance.
Hartford also makes an app which can interface with machines equipped with the above controls to enable IIoT data monitoring.
We asked Daniel Lu, assistant GM at Hartford Innovation, if he thinks mobile technology such as smartphones or tablet computers will ever replace machine tool controllers entirely.
“I don’t think it will be possible, because the industry controllers are for sophisticated and very complicated-to-control machines. They receive hardware/ software input and translate it to run the machines,” he said. “The iPad app we’re developing is just a tool to make the operator and the boss of the factory able to [monitor] the machines working in the factory. (…) you can use an iPhone, smartphone, or iPad to utilize your machine operation.”
Taiwan is not typically regarded as a hub of machine tool manufacturing, but the small country is actually the world’s fifth-largest exporter of machine tools. Check out this article for more information.