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Quantum leap for the Octopus

If you've ever tried making your own baked goods at home, you may have encountered a familiar problem. Golden brown and taunting you with its delicious aroma, your bundt cake stubbornly refuses to leave the pan. A little butter and flour may have done the trick for your grandmother, but large industrial bakeries rely on release agents from Dübör – applied with special spraying machines that are fully automated with B&R control technology.

Octopus arm over conveyer
The Octopus has two arms with up to eight spray jets each. The user can decide exactly how many jets are needed when setting up the machine. (Source: Dübör Backtrennmittel und Apparatebau AG, Switzerland)

"When it comes down to it, what we do is spray release agent into baking pans," explains Dübör's Managing Director Holger Nussbeck. A midsized family business in its second generation, Dübör is active all around the world as a leading producer of bakery release agents and the spraying machines used to apply them. Used to coat the pans and forms used in large bakeries, the Swiss company specially develops its spraying machines to meet its customers' unique needs. "Like the baked goods themselves, the bakeware used to make them is constantly changing. The machines we build today need to be flexible enough to adapt to different purposes in the future. To achieve this, Dübör developed the Octopus – a whole new generation of spraying machines with a B&R controller at its core.

Ocotpus System
The versatile Octopus can quickly be rolled into position wherever it it needed. (Source: Dübör Backtrennmittel und Apparatebau AG, Switzerland)

Octopus: smart, clean and flexible

Spraying machines like the Octopus have their work cut out for them. On the one hand, they have to meet strict hygiene standards for equipment that comes into contact with food, including clean-in-place requirements. To compete on the market, they also have to be flexible, reliable and offer remote maintenance. In other words: they need an innovative, intelligent control solution.

When creating the Octopus generation of spraying machines to meet this demanding set of requirements, Dübör decided to focus on its core competences and rely on an external partner to develop the automation and HMI solutions. The hardware selection process led them to the compact control modules offered by B&R.

"To my knowledge, B&R is the only manufacturer that can easily and reliably meet Industry 4.0 requirements," says Nussbeck. His decision was strengthened by many years of experience with B&R components and positive experiences from his tim in the printing industry.

Collaboration between Dübör, B&R and Tophinke

Development and implementation of the control concept was handled by Tophinke. "Once Dübör had decided to use a B&R controller, B&R recommended us to Dübör. That's how the development constellation came together for this project," explains Ralf Reinhard, project manager at Tophinke. "Working with B&R was straightforward and unbureaucratic. When I submitted a technical support request via their online portal, I never had to wait longer than 24 hours for an answer. That's not something to be taken for granted."

The constellation of partners proved to be a model of success for Dübör as well. "We presented our vision to Tophinke, and they helped us make it happen. Whatever add-ons popped up along the way, it was always possible to implement them. Our project manager at Tophinke clearly understood our vision and always seemed a step ahead of potential new requirements throughout the course of the project," praises Nussbeck.

X20_SafeLOGIC-X
With SafeLOGIC-X, the functions normally provided by the hardware controller are shared by the PLC, safe input modules and HMI units. This is accomplished without sacrificing any of the advantages of B&R's integrated safety technology.
Octopus noozle
With their clean-in-place design, the spray jets of the Octopus meet the strictest hygiene requirements. (Source: Dübör Backtrennmittel und Apparatebau AG, Switzerland)

B&R hardware: hygienic, compact and safe

The Octopus spraying machine features a Power Panel 500 with a 15" touch screen display and integrated B&R controller, designed by B&R specially for foods and beverages and other sectors with heightened hygiene requirements. Its stainless steel housing offers especially easy, thorough cleaning.

"To the Power Panel we connected peripheral X20 modules for all the sensors and actuators via POWERLINK," says Reinhard. "The flexibility of the X20 modules makes it very easy to implement additional hardware. The emergency stop buttons were wired to the safe inputs of an X20 SLX410 module, which functions simultaneously as a safety controller. This module was added directly to the existing X20 system, saving both space and costs.

Software: modular and scalable

In parallel to developing the new control technology, Tophinke also programmed and continuously optimized the HMI application. The result is a highly modular concept that can be easily expanded at any time. The programmers made versatile operation a top priority for the machine. Among other features, the number of spray jets can now be adjusted as needed.

"We created the Octopus as a modular system," explains Nussbeck. "That means the operator can decide how many jets they want to work with when the machine is being set up. The maximum is eight jets on each of its two arms – or sixteen in total. Not only can they be controlled individually, we also have separate utilization values for each jet. Regardless of how I scale my overall system, I always have the same control and HMI software. All that changes is the number of I/Os. That's an enormous advantage of this solution."

Machine operators also have access to a comprehensive file and recipe management system. Users can create and manage their own parameter sets for various baking forms without having to do any programming. "The recipe management system was nearly effortless to create," says Reinhard, "thanks to B&R's mapp Technology software framework, which provides solutions to frequently recurring programming tasks encapsulated in ready-to-use blocks."

Power Panel 500_Group 2_white
As a centralized operating and control unit, Power Panel devices combine control, visualization and motion control technology into a single package. (Source: B&R)

Connected: Remote maintenance and machine pool management by B&R

Remote maintenance is provided by B&R's secure, reliable machine pool management system. On the plant side, the Maintenance Site Gateway provides a connection to the company's LAN or WLAN network or directly to a mobile network. For service technicians, the Maintenance Service Portal was implemented, which coordinates the various machines, user accounts and authorizations.

Both machine and technician connect to the Internet to establish an encrypted VPN connection that can be used to exchange data. Service and maintenance can be performed from anywhere in the world with the convenience and ease of a smartphone or tablet.

The added value for the equipment operator is immense. "We can easily collect data from the machine centrally, since we have the necessary server network and data connection," says Nussbeck. "In the future, we will get to a point where machine maintenance is performed digitally in centralized service centers. If they want, customers will be able to have their OEMs notify them when a machine is due for maintenance. As a market leader in innovation, we're pleased to now offer our customers this service with B&R." 

A quantum leap with B&R control technology

After around 18 months of development, Dübör presented its new generation of Octopus sprayers at the 2015 IBA trade fair. "Our customers view the Octopus as a quantum leap, " describes Nussbeck. "The innovative control concept with B&R technology is indeed leaps and bounds beyond the previous generation."

According to Nussbeck, B&R is the ideal partner for a midsized organization, offering highly skilled collaboration and support. "Regardless of where I call, I always get someone who addresses my needs right away. With B&R I've never felt like an anonymous customer," says Nussbeck.

  • Holger Nussbeck
    Holger Nussbeck
    Deputy Managing Director, DÜBÖR Backtrennmittel und Apparatebau AG Schweiz
    "B&R is the ideal partner for a mid-sized company. No matter when and where I call, there's always someone there to address my concerns. With B&R, I never feel like an anonymous customer."
  • J%cc%b9rgen Wittwer
    Jürg Wittwer
    Head of Sales and Marketing, Tophinke Automation und Gebäudetechnik AG
    "A lot of time is devoted to developing basic functionality over and over for each new project. With mapp Technology, B&R offers a solution that considerably reduces that investment. Rather than having to program every detail, all that's left to do is quickly configure the ready-made software modules. This is a perfect way to achieve the flexibility you need when building specialty machines, and it frees up project managers to focus on their core responsibilities."
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