Plastics processing machinery is moving into a world of PC-based controls and open systems. Ron Sparer is helping lead the way.
Sparer is manager of controls and automation development at Ferromatik Milacron Inc., the injection press unit of Milacron Inc. He actually oversees controllers for Milacron's entire product line, including blow molding machines and extruders as well.
Milacron's Batavia, Ohio-based Plastics Technologies Group is the largest U.S. manufacturer of plastics machinery, generating 2000 sales of $874 million.
Milacron made news at the NPE 2000 trade show with its Xtreem controller, a personal-computer-based device that brings e-mail, the Internet — even video-conferencing with a service technician — right down to the molding machine on the shop floor. Using a computer, a service person in another location can see real-time machine functions on his or her computer screen, to help diagnose a problem.
Sparer, 39, has worked at Milacron for his entire plastics career. In 1983, he earned an associate's degree in electrical engineering technology (ASEET), from the University of Cincinnati. The following year, after picking up a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering technology (BSEET), he was hired as a software engineer at Milacron's new software development group.
The programmable logic controller had arrived on the machinery scene a few years earlier, as the old relay switches were dying out. New on the scene were microprocessor controls. Today, PC-equipped molding machines allow an unprecedented flow of information between the press, all the way up to management systems.
Milacron's Web site is www.milacron.com.