Archive for the ‘Siemens Digital Factory’ Category

Co-rotating twin-screw compound extruder used in R&D facility to test material batches, recipes; pre-configured extrusion solution on control package monitors entire machine, providing “big data” for customer at attractive price point

Typical parts made from TPE at Kraiburg | Siemens Industry

Typical parts made from TPE at Kraiburg

KRAIBURG TPE Corporation in Duluth, Ga. is a manufacturer of custom-made thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) compounds for a variety of market applications in the automotive, medical, general industrial and myriad consumer sectors. At the Duluth facility, the product development department routinely evaluates material batches and new custom compounds for performance and customer specification viability. As an integral step in that process, KRAIBURG TPE engineers utilize sophisticated co-rotating, twin-screw extruder technology provided by KraussMaffei Berstorff, from its facility in Florence, Ky.

Owing to the substantial varieties of color, durometer and the wide-ranging performance properties required at KRAIBURG TPE, monitoring every aspect of the machine performance is critical. This includes all temperatures, speeds, pressures and torque on the extruder itself, plus an underwater pelletizer, gear pump and multiple loss-of-weight feeders used on the line.

KraussMaffei Berstorff Supplies KRAIBURG TPE with Advanced Extruder Control Technology | Siemens Industry

At a glance, the operator sees the condition of the machine in real time and can make better on-the-fly adjustments

For the latest machine installed at the KRAIBURG TPE facility, as senior application engineer at KraussMaffei Bertstorff, David Frankenberg, explains, “The lab extrusion line is used for both process and product development assessment. A key requirement was the generation of all data in real time, as part of the management system to be used, as well as the condition monitoring system needed for predictive maintenance strategies being employed.” In cooperation with the KRAIBURG TPE team and after evaluating the competitors for the control scheme, KraussMaffei turned to Siemens for assistance, as this supplier was able to bring a pre-configured and highly cost-effective solution to the requirements on this machine.

KraussMaffei Berstorff Supplies KRAIBURG TPE with Advanced Extruder Control Technology | Siemens Indusry

Siemens temp zone control system monitors all aspects of extruder, providing “big data” to the host network

As Frankenberg and his electrical engineering associate Martin Gonzalez detailed, the Siemens EXT3370 application package represented a blending of the current PLC technology and drives platform with an HMI capable of providing all graphics and multiple data screens on a single display. In addition, the system had the ability to feed the “big data” directly to the KRAIBURG TPE process data archival & analysis system, where it would reside for real-time and long-range performance evaluation by the product development, quality and process teams. All speeds, pressures, temperatures and other parameters can be instantly assessed, using set point and actual value data on the display, either at the machine HMI or a remote monitor within the KRAIBURG TPE network.

On the KraussMaffei Bertstorff machine, the control system comprises the software solution, Siemens drives and motors, the ability to monitor up to 32 separate temperature zones, touch screen technology on a 15” HMI and scalability on the drives to accept the ancillary equipment being monitored at the KRAIBURG TPE facility. In this way, a truly customized solution was devised using an entirely standard and thus highly cost-effective array of components, according to Frankenberg. As an additional benefit, he noted, the training needed was minimal, owing to the plain language on the control with no need for knowledge of high-level programming skills. Finally, all compound recipes can be easily transferred via USB for portability and security.

KraussMaffei Berstorff Supplies KRAIBURG TPE with Advanced Extruder Control Technology | Siemens Indusry

Extruder line built by KraussMaffei Berstorff in Florence, Kentucky for Kraiburg TPE

Allen Donn, product development engineer at KRAIBURG TPE, along with his team of engineers and tech specialists, evaluated the installation and commissioning of the machine at the Duluth facility. “The data transfer from the PLC into the same process data archival & analysis system that we use for our other lines at KRAIBURG TPE. A simple Excel file is generated with any parameters desired for analysis, plus we can easily exchange data between R&D and production here. The result is that our ability to utilize production machinery more efficiently has increased substantially with the use of the new KraussMaffei Bertstorff machine in our test department, as the control system gives us real-time hard data we can use to make adjustments on new recipes and entirely new materials.” KRAIBURG TPE performs extensive new compound property performance testing on its TPE formulae and the time compression realized by using the new extruder line in this “real world” R&D operation is providing substantial advantages for the compounder.

KraussMaffei Berstorff Supplies KRAIBURG TPE with Advanced Extruder Control Technology | Siemens Indusry

Various compounds are formulated at Kraiburg and test run on the KraussMaffei Berstorff extruder at the Kraiburg lab in Duluth, Georgia

KRAIBURG TPE typically runs materials in the 20-80 Shore A hardness range and, as an example, might test out a variety of adhesion grades for over-molding onto polycarbonate, nylon, or other substrates, Donn explained. “When we can pull the data from any machine in the system, adjust it, run it on the R&D machine, and then feed that data back into production, it makes a huge difference in our efficiencies.” In one instance, shortly after the KraussMaffei machine was installed, KRAIBURG TPE engineers were testing 15 compound varieties on the machine very quickly, compared to using production equipment to do that task. “I could look into the software to compare all set point and actual values, remotely, over the entire test period,” Donn noted. He added that the substantial raw material cost savings of more tests, faster results and less waste all contribute to an improved profitability for the company, as well.

For more information on this story, please contact:

2625 North Berkeley Lake Road
Duluth, GA 30096
Phone: 678-584-5020
Attention: Katherine Olano


7095 Industrial Road
Florence, KY 41042
Phone : 859-283-0200
Attention : David Frankenberg


Digital Factory
5300 Triangle Parkway
Norcross, GA 30092
Phone : 770-871-3848
Attention : Mathias Radziwill

Advanced motors, drives and rapid feedback controls make substantial improvements in machine performance at Grand Rapids supplier to poly foam insulation and padding industries

As Rick Hungerford, president and CEO of Edge-Sweets (ESCO) points out, think of the mattress that remembers, the steering wheel that saves lives or the bandage pad with built-in antibiotic.  All these products start from blocks of cast polyurethane foam in various densities, then get cut, profiled or shaped by special machinery.  ESCO is a leading manufacturer of such machinery, supplying the furniture, mattress, automotive, packaging, pipe insulation, healthcare and other industries with automated CNC profilers and horizontal cutting machines.  Production speeds up to 840 inches per minute (21.33 meters per minute) are achieved on flexible and rebonded polyurethane, latex and viscoelastic materials, when used as either stand-alone cutting machinery or in tandem with automated materials handling and packaging lines.   The ESCO end user base reaches into many industries in the global market.

On two recent developments in the company’s machinery line, an engineering evaluation of competing motor, drive and controls lines was conducted, under the direction of Hungerford, who notes, “On our PMIII-1530, a horizontal profile saw with a 1.5 meter x 3 meter block cutting capability, we worked with one of our most trusted local suppliers of automation components, Wes Morgan from Electro-Matic Products, who introduced us to the Siemens motion controller, servomotor, gearmotor and drive package.  We were seeking a controls platform that would have global support and standards compliance, as more of our machines are utilized for production outside the U.S. today than at any time in the past.”  Hungerford further noted that, while the axes of motion are relatively limited on his company’s machine lines, the high-tension maintained and the need for precise positioning of the cutting wire on this machine made it necessary to have the most accurate and durable motor and drive combinations available onboard.

Upgraded Controls On ESCO Machine Help Reduce Urethane Cutting Production Time From 3½ Hours To 20 Minutes | Siemens Machine Tool Systems

Rick Hungerford Jr., president and CEO of ESCO (left), inspects the drives cabinet with Wes Morgan of Electro-Matic, the local Grand Rapids supplier of the Siemens product line.

Incorporating the Simotion motion controller, Sinamics low-voltage drives and Simotics S-1FK7 servomotors from Siemens gave ESCO not only the performance levels desired, but also the global application engineering, technical support and parts inventory benefits of this international supplier.  “Our machines are in use around the world,” states Hungerford, “and we needed great confidence in our control package supplier’s ability to support the machines and our sales team with parts and service, everywhere in the marketplace.  In Siemens, we found such a partner.  Plus, their local representative here in Grand Rapids, Electro-Matic, had established a solid relationship with our company and my team.”

Functionally, according to Hungerford, the Siemens package allowed a single, common DC bus without stand-alone drives plus the system provided by Siemens is scalable to allow the cutting machine being interfaced with additional mechanisms and loading/unloading devices as part of an overall automated production line for customers.  The PMIII-1530 is operated by a single PC plus a remote operator pendant that allows free movement with full operation control of the machine during setup.

In selecting and programming the proper components for the ESCO machine, Siemens and Electro-Matic Products provided an optimized solution using the Sizer and Simotion Scout software provided by the component manufacturer.  Once all the parts are in-house, construction of this machine is typically achieved in approximately 30 days, according to Hungerford, as ESCO does the bulk of the framework and final assembly onsite at the Grand Rapids factory.

Upgraded Controls On ESCO Machine Help Reduce Urethane Cutting Production Time From 3½ Hours To 20 Minutes | Siemens Machine Tool Systems

The Foamular® industrial pipe insulation produced on the PMIII-1530 is used in the oil and gas industry.

The operation of the machine (as shown in the photos) begins with the CAM programming software written by the ESCO engineering team, plus additional data programs made available through ASTM for pipe and tube configuration.  Hungerford mused, “It’s sorta like Etch-A-Sketch, but hardly a toy.  Our engineers can take the canned programs and quickly make the necessary adjustments to the cutting paths to suit the machine cutting capabilities and the workpieces our customers are producing.”  The software program is vital in accomplishing both an effective cutting as well as optimum utilization of the raw materials, through the nesting of the parts in the master workpiece block, done by the computational algorithms in the program.

The workpiece is then loaded onto the vacuum table, the cutting head is positioned and the process begins.  The material used by the ESCO customer, in this case, is Owens Corning Foamular®, a rigid polystyrene prepared in a tongue-and-groove configuration for industrial pipe insulation as the end product.

In operation, the motors, drives and feedback devices work in tandem to ensure a quick, smooth and efficient cutting of the material into the desired shapes.

The customer using the upgraded controls model of this ESCO machine is currently reporting a reduction in its cutting cycle times from 3½ hours to 20 minutes, according to Hungerford.  

Commenting further about the drive performance, Wes Morgan of Electro-Matic noted that the Sinamics drive platform offered three distinct benefits.  “The product line is consistent across a wide range of motor capacities, which is a real advantage for ESCO.  Also, the regenerative feedback feature creates substantial energy savings for the end users, plus the Sinamics drives have a smaller footprint, owing to the dual motor modules and common DC bus system and this results in a more compact control cabinet.”  He also noted the Simotion motion controller allows ESCO a single platform to perform simple axis to very complex integrated motion controls with a standard product, resulting in greater efficiencies in the design, programming and installation time for this builder and its customers.

Upgraded Controls On ESCO Machine Help Reduce Urethane Cutting Production Time From 3½ Hours To 20 Minutes | Siemens Machine Tool SystemsOn the second machine where ESCO implemented a controls upgrade, the HTX high-tension slitter/stacker incorporates a Simatic PLC, Sinamics variable frequency drives, Simotics servomotors, motor starters and contactors from Siemens.  This machine, instead of a cutting wire, utilizes a tangential razor-like blade in a slit-and-retract motion, with the blade articulating on each pass through the material workpiece and then being automatically coated with silicone in the blade housing to maintain cut integrity.

The unit shown in the photographs here is the HTX 51-88 (indicating a 51” high x 88” wide x 132” long cutting zone), making ¼” thick cuts in a poly foam block.  The machine is further capable of 1/8” cuts in production, as Hungerford noted.  “This machine operates in tandem with other machinery we build, so the conveyor feed mechanism positions the workpiece for the cutting at the first station, then indexes it through the HTX to the next stations, where additional cuts and profilings are performed.

ESCO also produces vertical cutting machines, convoluters, roll splitters, contour cutting machines, metering and dispensing solutions for lab and production use, plus the company supplies fully integrated systems for polyurethane processing, including robots, curing ovens and mold designs to its worldwide customer base.

For more information on this story, please contact:

2887 Three Mile Road NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Phone:  616-453-5458
Attention:  Rick Hungerford, Jr., President & CEO


390 Kent Avenue
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Phone: 847-640-1595
Fax: 847-437-0784
Attention:  John Meyer, Manager, Marketing Communications

Watch videos of these machines in operation!