Injection molding is a hotly contested market. With hundreds of manufacturers delivering around 100,000 injection presses each year, the success of a machine relies heavily on differentiation through technological features. But Woojin Plaimm hasn't stopped there. Together with B&R, the injection molding specialist is ensuring that its DL and TE series also stand out in terms of usability, visualization and human-machine interaction.
Watering cans, toothbrushes, the dashboards of our cars – so many of the plastic products that shape our lives are themselves shaped by injection molding. In an injection molding machine, plastic granulate is melted and injected into a mold. Once it has cooled and hardened, the part can then be removed from the machine. Injection molding machines must meet a diverse set of requirements. Among them is the fact that quality of the results depends heavily on the speed with which the material is injected. Repeat precision is also absolutely essential. In addition to the technical requirements, aspects such as energy efficiency, ease of operation and machine footprint also play an important role.
Founded in 1985, Woojin Plaimm is Korea's largest manufacturer of injection molding machines, producing up to 2,700 each year. Woojin is exceptionally vertically integrated – from the casting and machining of the molds to the final assembly of the machine.
Long represented primarily in Asia, in recent years the company has redirected its international strategy to target the markets in North and South America and Europe. In the fall of 2014, Woojin opened a new 70,000-square-meter plant in Korea with an annual production volume of 6,500 machines.
Two years ago, the company also opened an R&D center in Leobersdorf, Austria. With the addition of this European location, systems engineering requirements – such as industrial control and IT systems and the acquisition and processing of production data – have moved into the foreground. In order to ensure optimal integration of European standards into the company's technology, the location in Austria has been expanded into a full-fledged European headquarters with its own sales and service center.
The cooperation between Woojin and B&R began in Korea in 2008 with the all-electric TE series. The companies also collaborated on development of Woojin's hydraulic toggle-clamping TH series – followed by the TH-S variant.
The first big project implemented in Leobersdorf was a redesign of the DL series, a two-platen machine for high clamping-force requirements. "With its complete solutions, B&R is our preferred partner," says Dietmar L. Morwitzer, CEO of Woojin Plaimm's European headquarters. "B&R control systems have always been highly advanced, including technology specific to plastics and injection molding. With solutions that are state-of-the-art even by the highest European standards, we're able to reach a whole new range of customers and compete with the top-players on the international market."
Dietmar L. Morwitzer, CEO, Woojin Plaimm, European Headquarters
"With its complete solutions, B&R is our preferred partner. Their control systems have always been highly advanced, including technology specific to plastics and injection molding. With solutions that are state-of-the-art even by the highest European standards, we're able to reach a whole new range of customers and compete with the top-players on the international market."
Current development efforts are aimed at updating Woojin's all-electric TE series and hydraulic DL series – both of which already feature complete B&R solutions. In addition to technological upgrades, the particular emphasis here is on usability and web-based HMI.
Machine operators are often overwhelmed by highly complex HMI applications. The solution therefore aims to implement a visual-based system that is much easier to use than a text-based one. At the same time, it should make data much easier to interpret and process than was possible with earlier solutions. The requirements for B&R were clear: The new HMI solution would need to be simple, straightforward and readily interpretable.
"We knew from the beginning that we'd be developing an entirely new HMI application with B&R. With the OPC UA communication protocol and B&R's new web-based HMI solution, I'm confident that we've set the right course for at least the next 20 years," says Richard Wagner, Woojin's R&D manager.
The web-based HMI application was created using B&R's mapp View. "Prior to mapp View, the HMI application was confusing to navigate, and customers often had to get out the user's manual to look up the meaning of certain values. We had decided internally that we wanted a new, web-based HMI solution – and then found out that B&R was already working on one. The timing worked out perfectly for us," says Wagner. Woojin is currently using mapp View to revise its alarm system. This is particularly important to customers because it helps them get the machine back up and running quickly.
The DL-A5 650, a hydraulic two-platen machine with 650 tons of clamping force, has a dry cycle time of under three seconds. The servo pump that comes standard on the DL-series helps lower energy consumption because it is only needed for movement along the machine axis. The machines are available with a clamping force ranging from 550 to 3,300 tons. The new mechanical design places the hydraulic reservoirs near the cylinder for high-speed injection, while the pumps are positioned near the oil tank and left easily accessible for maintenance. Numerous other details were also optimized to increase accessibility for operators and service technicians.
The TE series was designed with a focus on performance. This includes executing movements in parallel – a clear advantage of all-electric machines. TE machines use an ACOPOSmulti servo drive, whose compact construction helps minimize the machine footprint. In addition to automotive parts, these machines are also used to produce components for medical devices and consumer electronics.
B&R Automation Studio provides an integrated development environment, which Woojin uses for everything from machine and motion control to communication and HMI. This saves not only time, but maintenance costs as well. "B&R's Automation Studio is the perfect tool for measurement, programming and diagnostics, offering enormous advantages in terms of time savings. To use a competitor's product – where the web-based HMI application would have to be developed outside of Automation Studio – would have added a considerable amount of overhead," explains Wagner.
With Woojin's increasingly international operations, it has also become necessary to handle certain service and diagnostics tasks either directly on the machine or remotely via the Internet. "This has enabled us to retrieve and exchange data much more quickly and easily. That's one of the biggest highlights of the new controller," reports Morwitzer.
Automation Studio: the ultimate diagnostics tool
B&R Automation Studio provides an integrated development environment, which Woojin uses for everything from machine and motion control to communication and HMI. This saves not only time, but maintenance costs as well. Woojin uses Automation Studio as a universal tool for measurement, programming and diagnostics.
Following the K 2016 exhibition, Woojin will once again be turning to B&R – this time for safety. The first project will begin with the company's VH series of vertical injection presses, which feature numerous light curtains. On a vertical machine, the operator typically places parts into the machine manually, so there is direct human-machine interaction. Compared to a machine with an automatic cycle, this makes it particularly crucial that there is safety technology in place to protect the operator.
Richard Wagner, R&D Manager, Woojin Plaimm, European Headquarters
"B&R's Automation Studio is the perfect tool for measurement, programming and diagnostics, offering enormous advantages in terms of time savings. To use a competitor's product – where the web-based HMI application would have to be developed outside of Automation Studio – would have added a considerable amount of overhead and other difficulties."