DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — K'98 marked a new direction for Barber-Colman Co., as the company made a big step toward open controllers for injection molding, extrusion and blow molding.
Barber-Colman unveiled its Maco DS controller at the K show, held Oct. 22-29 in Dusseldorf. Maco DS replaces Barber-Colman's dedicated controllers, said Bart Polizotto, automation systems product line manager.
Operators will notice the difference right away, through the personal-computer-based operator station, the OPtima PC. Maco DS also pushes Barber-Colman controllers into the Windows NT world, by incorporating Wonderware operator screens.
Earlier this year, Barber-Colman's parent company, Siebe plc of Windsor, England, bought Irvine, Calif.-based Wonderware Corp., which pioneered Windows-based software for industrial automation system.
The DS in Maco DS stands for distributed system. Because a distributed system is much less expensive to install than Barber-Colman's current rack-based system, Maco DS should help the company pick up more business from plastics machinery manufacturers, Polizotto said.
Polizotto, interviewed in Germany, said Barber-Colman received inquiries from several European equipment makers during K. He noted that Horsham, England-based Eurotherm plc, which Siebe purchased, will sell the Maco DS.
``The number of feet on the street in Europe went up tenfold'' after the Eurotherm acquisition, he said.
A rack-based system requires technicians to run complex wiring from monitoring points on a machine to one central point — dubbed a ``rat's nest'' by Barber-Colman sales literature. Distributed control, on the other hand, places several terminal input/output components right where they are needed on the machine. Wiring goes directly to the I/O modules, which then are networked together. Polizotto said the system is cheaper and easier to install on a machine.
Easy-to-use adapters are another key feature of the I/O terminal blocks. By changing the adapter, you can change network protocols, such as CAN-Bus or Ethernet or SPI Protocol. The adapters snap onto the terminal I/O modules. Terminal connectors also snap on and off.
Because the I/O modules are ``intelligent'' — meaning they have on-board microprocessors — they can be configured for many different types of equipment, such as injection molding, blow molding or extrusion, plus temperature and motion control. Barber-Colman calls the feature application-specific blocks.
Polizotto said users familiar with Barber-Colman's Maco 4000, 5000 and 6000 will be able to pick up the Maco DS' OPtima PC operator station quickly. Operators can touch the screen, or use arrow keys or a mouse to access functions.