With machine sales continuing at a high level, K Show exhibitors pulled out the stops for “world premiere” introductions of new machines, controls, and imaginative applications of automation. Many of these innovations were previewed in our September pre-show report and in other news items over the past few months, but machine builders held back a large number of new products and upgrades for unveiling at the show itself. This post-show roundup focuses on those developments not previously revealed and on additional details about some of the new entries already reported.
The late-breaking news continues certain themes already evident in the pre-show news:
• Servo drives are an almost indispensable feature of new machine systems;
• Multicomponent molding gains ever-increasing attention;
• Controls are adopting gesture-based multitouch commands used on smartphones and tablets; • Stored libraries of materials data are adding sophistication to process controls;
• Connectivity for Industry 4.0 and the “smart factory” movement is a growing imperative.
Look for other K Show news in this month’s Starting Up and Keeping Up departments. Next month, we’ll cover K 2016 news in robots, hot runners, and tooling.
INDUSTRY 4.0 IS COMING
As noted in our September show preview, the push toward “smart factories” under the banner of “Industry 4.0” was a more visible theme than at any previous plas- tics show. One surprise announcement on that theme was the acquisition of Austrian MES software developer T.I.G. by Engel Austria (Engel Machinery, Inc., York, Pa.). The MES (manufacturing execution system) is seen as a hub for communications between machines, which is an essential feature of Industry 4.0. Engel had worked for some time with T.I.G. in developing Engel’s e-factory MES. Now, T.I.G. will be managed as an independent subsidiary within the Engel Group, and two MES solutions—Engel’s e-factory and T.I.G.’s authentig—will remain available and continue to evolve separately. Even so, a competing machine supplier, Wittmann Battenfeld, will discontinue its collaboration with T.I.G. and seek a different partner to develop an MES connection as part of its Industry 4.0 strategy.
Making machines more intelligent is another aspect of Industry 4.0. KraussMaffei (KraussMaffei Corp., Injection Molding Technology, Florence, Ky.) offered more details on its new APC plus Adaptive Process Control software. Unlike the earlier APC, the new “plus” version takes into account stored data on 20 basic materials with different filler types in a dropdown menu. For example, it uses melt-compressibility data to take corrective action in the holding-pressure phase. KM does its own materials testing and can test specific materials for customers.