Debuting at K 2022: Leading-Edge User Interface for Extrusion Lines – Developed with Users for Users

 “With the new process control user interface, we have mastered the challenge of creating a structured and intuitive system that perfectly reflects the simplicity and complexity of any plastics and rubber processing application,” says René Jordan, Teamlead Control Technology Automation Extrusion at KraussMaffei.

The prestigious iF Design Award 2022 and the renowned Red Dot Design Award 2021 granted to the pioneer processControl system convincingly demonstrate that KraussMaffei has succeeded in combining an attractive graphic design with outstanding user-friendliness. At K’ 2022, the new control system combined with a ZE 28 BluePower twin-screw extruder will celebrate its premiere and be presented to the public for the first time at stands C 24 to D 24 in hall 15.

The ZE 28 BluePower will play an essential role in the live demonstration of the closed material cycle. A coloured PP compound for high-quality applications will be created from injection moulded and subsequently shredded medical caps at the trade show. For sustainability reasons, such complex extrusion processes using reclaimed input material with varying characteristics to produce finished additive and coloured recompounds are becoming more and more standard in this branch of industry. The higher the process complexity in feeding, colouring, and degassing, the more data must be processed by the control system and displayed on the user interface.

The more data have to be displayed and considered simultaneously, the more confusing the representation on the screen becomes. This makes operation increasingly difficult, and errors are likely to occur more frequently,René Jordan reports from many discussions with users. This is why KraussMaffei focused on human-centred design in developing the new interface and started preparing requirements to plan with customers from the tire, pipe, and foam industries in cooperation with the SKZ institute in Würzburg.

Based on the requirements catalogue resulting from these customer interviews, KraussMaffei then developed the innovative user interface with Würzburg-based HMI Project GmbH, had it checked by test persons, and finally optimised it. The result is an innovative human-centered design and operating concept that ensures optimal user support. Using the web-based WebIQ HMI and SCADA toolbox of Smart-HMI GmbH, the new method could be implemented almost 1: 1. The web technology allows the HMI hardware to be used independently new applications on mobile devices can be realised more quickly.

Wizards for enhanced production efficiency

The core feature of the new user interface is so-called wizards that provide the operator with step-by-step instructions for specific procedures, such as starting the production line or shutting it down. “The new interface ensures that operators receive the right information at exactly the right moment and can additionally store their experiences in the system so that colleagues will also benefit from them,” emphasises René Jordan. This will enable even less experienced staff members to control complex extrusion processes. Operating errors are thus reduced, which minimises standstill periods and optimises production efficiency.

The visual design of the display is simple, self-explanatory, well-structured, and clear – true to the motto “as much as necessary, as little as possible.” Visual feedback indicates any deviations from setpoints at an early stage, so intervention is possible before it becomes even necessary. Thanks to the modular HMI design, new applications like KraussMaffei’s ColourAdjust colour measuring and control system (which will also be exhibited at the trade show) can be integrated into the control interface without adapting the operating concept.

 

Read more news from KraussMaffei here.

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