Rugby Plastics (RPL) Managing Director Dr. Stephen Pepper said:
“Despite the constraints of the pandemic, we have spent the better part of the last 18 months assessing in detail the capabilities of Wittmann Battenfeld (WIBA)’s SmartPower machinery and the connectivity and 4.0 advantages it provides.
“I am delighted to say that the introduction of this cell has exceeded our expectations and has reinforced our investment strategy for the future.
“Energy-efficient injection moulding cells with 4.0 connectivity and a compatible ‘Manufacturing Execution System’ to help capture large amounts of key data automatically are the way forward for us. In this way, we can also centrally monitor a number of machines and also provide a model for a truly ‘Smart’ factory.’”
“The success of our recent investment has accelerated our plans for the future and a further three complete 4.0 cells have been ordered from the Wittmann Group.”
Dan Williams, joint Managing Director of Wittmann Battenfeld (WIBA) UK, said:
“We are delighted that our close liaison with Rugby Plastics and also with parent company Thomas Dudley is now yielding dividends in terms of further machinery orders.
“We look forward to working with RPL – helping showcase all the features and benefits of the company’s fully integrated moulding cell as it comes online in the coming months.”
As part of RPL’s investment strategy, a complete injection moulding cell was installed in 2019. This particular cell consists of a servo-hydraulic moulding machine with an integrated R9 robot and a suite of associated ancillaries that are linked to the SmartPower machine using 4.0 connectivity.
Dr. Stephen Pepper said:
“From the onset, RPL sought an advanced moulding cell so that we could explain and demonstrate to all of our stakeholders our continued path to technical excellence. We also wanted to show that our 4.0 connectivity offers real tangible benefits rather than a theoretical textbook principle.”
The SmartPower supplied has the latest integrated R9 high-speed 5-axis robot with 4.0 connectivity to equipment such as the rotary desiccant material dryer, twin hot water temperature mould regulation unit, a four-component gravimetric blender and automated platen temperature and flow control units.
The 4.0 ancillary equipment at Rugby Plastics offers plug and play capability. All additional ancillary equipment items are automatically recognised by the SmartPower B8 controller and can be operated centrally from the main HMI (Human Machine Interface) controller. Due to the integration of this equipment, the main moulding machine can constantly monitor actual conditions in real-time and sound the alarm on any non-conformities. If any significant deviations are detected, the manufacturing process can be stopped awaiting human intervention.
The high-speed R9 robot on the production cell is integrated with the SmartPower moulding machine and can also be programmed & operated from the main HMI. The simple-to-program robot can be quickly put into production and offers fast demould speeds. The quick-release dovetail head allows robot End of Arm Tooling (EOAT) to be changed in seconds.
In addition to continual condition monitoring of 4.0 connected equipment, all processing parameters can be stored as part of the master product data file. This ensures easy and speedy retrieval when the component is manufactured at a future date and minimises the role of human data entry.
Dr. Stephen Pepper added:
“Our SmartPower offers low energy cost production with running electricity costs of a fraction of kWh per kg of material processed. With our complete cell optimised and with the robot in eco-mode, the energy cost can be as little as 20% of a non-servo machine equivalent.”
The SmartPower controller is equipped with an advanced quality software package that enables monitoring of many key processing parameters and effective deviation alarms ensure that the components are produced within defined processing limits. The sophisticated statistical data analysis provides visual process capability metrics such as CM and CMK.
Tracy Cadman, WIBA UK joint Managing Director said:
“Rugby Plastics proves that the Smart factory is well on its way, making sense both technically and commercially. We look forward to partnering them to future success in the coming months.”