Dispensing equipment supplier Meter Mix has seen its machine build times reduced by up to 20% since adopting Omron control systems.
Based in Northamptonshire, Meter Mix produces metering, mixing and dispensing systems for multi-component adhesives and sealants.
The company’s initial contact with Omron control systems came via a new customer enquiry some five years ago.
Meter Mix’s multinational customer already used Omron components in its main manufacturing lines, and wanted the same for its new bonding unit.
Omron’s original PLC sourced by Meter Mix was the CJ2 series and this is still used in some applications.
But in the majority of its systems, the company integrates the CP1 series. These controllers are combined with SmartStep servo drives and – typically – NB series human-machine interfaces (HMIs).
The benefit is that we can run 95% of machine control through the one unit, doing away with most of the buttons and switches
David Johnson, managing director, Meter Mix
Meter Mix technical engineer Dave Scott cites the example of his company’s PAR 30 system, which moved over to Omron’s CJ1 controller and NB HMI in mid-2015.
“It was to do with standardisation, but also flexibility in changing speeds in the inverter drives,” says Scott. “Everything can now be changed from the HMI.
While Meter Mix managing director David Johnson adds: “The benefit is that we can run 95% of machine control through the one unit, doing away with most of the buttons and switches. We used to need a plug-in, handheld controller to vary motor speeds, but now it’s all on-board.”
The benefits of the menu-driven changeover are especially appreciated in the electronics industry, where typically many different components will need potting (or given a protective seal) using different volumes and flow rates of material.
Johnson continues: “From our company’s point of view, Omron’s control system decreases the build time considerably, since so much of that control is in the PLC, making it a programming rather than an engineering exercise. There are no complex electrical cabinets to wire up.”
Inevitably, equipment is tailored to suit Meter Mix’s customer needs. Often, there will be last-minute changes to on-board options.
Using Omron technology, these changes can be programmed in and added to the HMI. It’s not as involved or as expensive as drilling and adding wiring, says the company. That programmability also means there is a degree of future-proofing built into each system.
The changes have also resulted in five people who can interrogate PLCs being employed in-house, where before there was one.
The control system decreases the build time considerably, since so much of that control is in the PLC, making it a programming rather than an engineering exercise
Omron’s field application engineer Wayne Corp spent a large amount of time experimenting with different ways of programming in order to achieve the most reliable results for Meter Mix: “The company seems pleased with the support that Omron has provided.
“Now it is looking at the possibility of incorporating our Sysmac control platform for high-end and more complex metering.”
One further consideration in Omron’s favour, says Meter Max, is the availability of its components. “Nine times out of ten, the product is off-the-shelf and delivered either the next day or within a couple of days,” says Johnson.
Today, Meter Mix estimates that some 60% of its metering and dispensing equipment uses Omron PLCs. It believes customers are benefiting from simpler, menu-driven access, while the company itself has seen production times for new systems cut by up to 20%.