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Condition-based Maintenance and Optimized Utilization with Mold-ID from Balluff

Use Cases | von Balluff | 15. November 2016
A SmartLight continuously shows the mold status to the operator. A SmartLight continuously shows the mold status to the operator. BILD: Balluff

Mold-ID from Balluff forges transparency for the use of injection molds

Predictive maintenance extends the service life of production systems and components, supports reliable operation, increases productivity, and improves cost-effectiveness. This is especially true for the molds in the machines. They normally experience extensive wear and have a non-trivial impact on production costs. These were the reasons behind the choice of Switzerland-based Max Riner AG to optimize the use of its injection molds with Mold-ID from Balluff. The standalone system can be easily adapted to each machine without having to interact with the control system, enabling condition-based maintenance via industrial RFID technology.

Written by John Großpietsch, Freelance Editor for Balluff

John GroßpietschJohn Großpietsch The injection molds used in manufacturing plastic parts are usually very complex and expensive. They are subject to wear and contamination and require regular care, cleaning, and maintenance. Amid all of these factors, the regularity of inspections often depends on the experiences of individual employees or handwritten records in mold logbooks or on mold boards or postit notes. More advanced operations may even progress to storing records on disks, USB sticks, or using databases or Excel tables to track this sort of information. Regardless of the method, real-world experience shows that records kept by hand are prone to errors and ultimately result in some degree of variance in the consistency of action. In many cases, therefore, maintenance and inspection are frequently carried out only if the produced parts no longer meet the required quality standards or if a mold malfunctions. “Based on our experience in the industry, around 20% of molds swapped into machines from mold storage are not properly ready for use,” explains Ralf Pfisterer, Product Manager for Mold-ID at Balluff.

The most expensive maintenance is usually repairs after damage has been done, with the associated unplanned downtime. Since many problems recur, empirical values can be used to easily estimate when problems will reappear, provided the problems have been documented. The shot count is one of the essential measurement variables in this approach. In terms of the shot count, however, it is also important to note that empty shots during insertion also result in wear. The number of mold changes is just as important, such as for maintaining couplings and other features. “Recording the number of mold changes by hand does not actually tend to provide a better overall picture,” explains Urs Truttmann from Max Riner AG in Rupperswil. The Head of Engineering for the Swiss company is referring to one of the main reasons behind the decision to use Mold-ID from Balluff.

Maintaining oversight during frequent mold changes

Max Riner AG has been producing all manner of poured chocolate molds for industrial chocolate production for more than 60 years. One of the company’s exclusive products, Rilon® molds, are known throughout the world for their perfection and durability. Molds like this, used in continuous operation on the production lines of chocolate manufacturers, are ultimately made in comparatively small batch sizes of 1500 to 2000 units in most cases. This is why injection molds for producing poured chocolate molds have a modular structure.

The central Mold-ID unit with industrial PC and software is housed in a separate control cabinet.The central Mold-ID unit with industrial PC and software is housed in a separate control cabinet.

Master molds with exchangeable inserts act as a base. This leads to quick and frequent mold change cycles that make disruptions quite a bit less likely. “The molds in particular are subjected to extensive, precisely dictated maintenance with each change,” emphasizes Truttmann. But certain things require increased maintenance effort, such as replacing hoses, lines, or connecting components, and lubricating mechanical components, which requires removing the master mold. This is why it is especially important to keep track of how many times a master mold has been used so far. “Mold-ID from Balluff lets us track and document this information with incredible detail,” adds Truttmann.

Suitable for retrofitting onto any single machine

This article was published in the "Company & Application Guide 2016 RFID | NFC | Smart Cards". Download your own copy for free and continue reading at page 66.

Letzte Änderung am Dienstag, 15 November 2016 13:58
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