Cranberry Township, Pa. — Conair Group says its new SmartFLX conveying control has a more powerful PLC processor with faster communications, a universal input/output (I/O) panel structure and a simplified system for installation, expansion and remote diagnostics.
The product line was launched in 2009 to let users start small with a basic system of eight loaders and two pumps yet be flexible enough to increase capacity and capability over time.
Over the years, the maximum capacity of the system has expanded and now when fully loaded, it can manage 40-plus pumps, 128 receivers, and 256 controlled sources.
The new SmartFLX has an upgraded system architecture that is easier and more cost-effective to configure, install, manage, and expand, according to Nick Paradiso, Conair's product manager, conveying systems.
"We named this system SmartFLX because this new platform supports intelligent features: system self-configuration to aid installation, system simulations and modeling to manage system growth, and self-diagnostic and troubleshooting capabilities that eliminate most on-site service calls," Paradiso said in a press release.
The SmartFLX platform also will be the foundation for a wide range of new product additions to be launched in the spring, he added.
The system has a 10-inch high-resolution color monitor that operates atop a new PLC processor and software. Conair says all system intelligence is centralized in the main panel for easy, single-point software upgrades.
The upgraded SmartFLX architecture separates communications into two channels: control and diagnostic signaling.
Conair says it was developed to support crystal-clear data communications in noisy industrial environments and operates at a speed that is more than 6,000 times faster than older communications protocols, which would be like going from 3 milliseconds to 0.00045 milliseconds.
All third-party equipment and the system reporting functions are carried on the second data communications channel.
The system can support greater capacity — up to 40-plus pumps, 256-plus receivers and 500- controlled sources — using just three I/O panel types.
For complex troubleshooting or questions, customers can share system configuration files with Conair support personnel to evaluate performance, review equipment duty-cycle data, test alternate settings, or identify fault conditions remotely, without the need for an in-person visit.
As issues are resolved, changes can be saved into updated system configuration files and transmitted for uploading by the customer. Conair says this breakthrough in remote diagnosis and troubleshooting capability promises huge savings in the cost of system support since, in most cases, on-site service calls can be eliminated.
More SmartFLX product additions are in the pipeline for inventory management, line proofing, enhanced system diagnostics, and new Wave Conveying automation.
Several of these products will be introduced virtually in the spring in lieu of NPE2021.