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CIM made simpler.

CIM Made Simpler

Simplicity of use and modest cost are key attributes of new offerings and system enhancements for computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) from Hunkar Laboratories Inc., Cincinnati. These new products are available for injection and blow molding and encapsulating. Hunkar plans to expand into extrusion soon.


The first new product is a software enhancement to Hunkar's CIM-1 system for plantwide monitoring. It's called the "Expert Manager" and is described as a "decision aid tool" for manufacturing supervisory personnel. It's said to help them identify trouble spots and production bottlenecks in the plant effortlessly, without time-consuming analysis of long tables of data or computer printouts.

Expert Manager is a further development of the "Expert Analyzer" and "Event Manager" enhancements introduced at the end of last year (see PT, Feb. '90, p. 23). It draws from the CIM-1 system's built-in Event Database, which logs all process alarms (excursions outside of manually or automatically set SPC limits), downtime occurrences, and other "events," such as an operator logging on or off a machine station, activity by a maintenance or setup person at a machine, or any other discrete occurrence that the user considers worthy of logging in the database.

The user of the system can call up on his personal-computer screen a plantwide "activity" display, in which each machine station is shown as a box colored red for a statistically significant number of events or activities (in proportion to overall plant activities), gold for a low level of statistically random activities, or green for no activities. This immediately highlights for the user which processing stations are encountering unusually large numbers of "events."

When the user points to a particular box on the PC touchscreen, a detailed log appears of every activity at that machine over a user-determined period (anywhere from the last half hour up to the last 2000 events).

Alternatively, the user can call up a plant overview of just process alarms (excursions beyond SPC limits), in which each machine station is color-coded according to the relative number of alarms, as above; the actual number of alarms is also shown in the box representing each machine station (see first photo). Touching a box calls up a Pareto-type bar graph for that machine, showing the relative numbers of each type of process alarm (see second photo), which gives the user an immediate sense of what his technicians' priorities should be on servicing that machine.

A third alternative on the Expert Manager menu screen is to call up a plantwide display of just downtime at each machine. This shows color-coded boxes for each machine, along with the actual number of minutes of downtime - or dollar cost of that downtime (based on the hourly rate for each machine), if the user wishes. Note that a machine does not have to be "down" right now for the box representing it to show up red on the plant overview screen.

Expert Manager runs on a PC that can be anywhere in the plant, so long as it is networked with the central CIM-1 command console in order to draw on its real-time plantwide database. It is available as software only, which runs on any IBM-compatible PC outfitted with a Hunkar-Net card and serial port (a touchscreen is not required). Hunkar can also supply the software with a color touchscreen for an existing PC. Or, Hunkar offers the software plus its own proprietary IBM-compatible "Executive Station," a 286-type workstation with 20-Mb hard disk, color touchscreen, and keyboard with built-in trackball - i.e., a stationary mouse. (CIRCLE 1)


Hunkar has also introduced a lower-cost, entry-level version of its CIM system, called FMS-II. It provides many, though not all, of the CIM-1 capabilities at less than half the cost of a complete system. A 10-machine setup, for example, would cost around $32,000.

FMS-II monitors up to 32 machines and can be expanded to monitor up to 96 machines. It utilizes Hunkar Data Acquisition Terminals on each machine, networked to a pair of IBM PS/2 personal computers (in place of the CIM-1 command console). One PC gathers realtime data from the DAT's, and the other processes and manipulates the data into useful displays and reports. The latter is a Hunkar Executive Station, which is a multi-user terminal that can be networked to other PC's so that the data are simultaneously accessible throughout the plant. Standard software includes the new Expert Manager, described above, in addition to the CIM-1 Reports Module with relational database, user-programmable reports, and custom report library. Additional software options are available.

The DAT's are Hunkar's latest versions, with the new Auto Learn, printout and gauge-input features described below. However, they provide automatic SPC on only four parameters - cycle time, mold open and closed times, and injection time, for example. With the addition of a circuit card, these DAT's can be upgraded to full DAT-II capability (see below), which provides 34-parameter SPC. (CIRCLE 2)


One element in a continuing effort to make more CIM capability available at lower cost has been the gradual shifting of more and more intelligence from the Hunkar CIM-1 command console upstream to the DAT's at each processing machine (see the Feb. '90 article mentioned above).

Another step in that evolution is a new "expert" software program called Auto Learn, which is now standard on all Hunkar DAT's and can be added to earlier models. This program allows the DAT to automatically "learn" the appropriate SPC limits for a new mold. When running in the mold, after operating conditions are reached that produce good parts, the user presses the LEARN button and continues to run for 35-50 cycles. Based on analysis of the actual variability of the machine during that run, plus some preset weighting factors determined from prior empirical studies on many machines in production, the DAT sets upper and lower limits for each SPC variable.

Not only does this make "automatic SPC" available without the need for a full-blown CIM-1 system, it is also much faster, says company president Denes Hunkar. It commonly takes about 8 hr of data gathering to arrive at appropriate SPC limits for a new mold with the help of the more sophisticated SPC-PRO software in the CIM-1 system.

And whereas the latter procedure requires at least some statistical understanding from the operator, "instant" setting of SPC limits with Auto Learn does not even require knowledge of an x-bar chart, says Hunkar. The difference is that the "window" between upper and lower SPC limits is set somewhat wider by Auto Learn than by SPC-PRO, because the former's short-term data gathering cannot account for long-term drift. A user of the full CIM-1 system could therefore use Auto Learn to get a new mold running quickly with automatic SPC monitoring, and bring the SPC limits in tighter later on with SPC-PRO.

Other new features have been made standard on Hunkar's DAT units, the enhanced, programmable (P-DAT) version of which is now called DAT-II. The ability to accept data input from electronic scales and gauges is one new feature; while another is the ability to print out setup sheets at the machine. These features can be added to older DAT's with a new chip. (CIRCLE 3)

PHOTO : Hunkar's new Expert Manager Software displays a plant overview - in this case, of process alarms - on a PC. Each box represents a machine or cell, color-coded according to the relative number of alarms during a user-specified period. Actual number of alarms appears at the bottom of the box.

PHOTO : By touching one of the color-coded boxes, the user calls up a display for that machine or cell of all of the alarms logged. These are prioritized by a Pareto chart showing the relative frequency of each type of alarm. Thus, a technician sees what to fix first.
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Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:computer-integrated manufacturing
Author:Naitove, Matthew H.
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Previous Article:The struggle to make Q-1: a custom molder's story.
Next Article:Downstream equipment for precision extrusion.

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