Providing Turn-Key Solutions for Plant and Equipment Monitoring
Husky Injection Molding Systems is a leading supplier of injection molding
equipment and services to the plastics industry. Many companies use Husky’s
equipment to create a wide variety of plastic products for the food and beverage,
medical, automotive and consumer electronics markets.
Throughout its 50-plus years of experience in the industry, Husky introduced new
generations of injection molding equipment to deliver improved performance and
functionality. A new generation would often include a new controller platform
Figure 1 - Husky H120
with different protocols. Customers were required to create new communications drivers between the new
Husky controller and their existing control and monitoring applications. This was
time-consuming and expensive for customers who relied on third-party vendors to create
the interfaces. Another downside was that end-users were locked into that vendor’s software
solutions. Without the resources or expertise to write their own drivers, they could not
change their monitoring software without losing their connectivity to the Husky equipment,
and so were limited to the solution the vendor could offer.
Husky Eases Integration Efforts
Customers found connecting additional Husky equipment with new controllers, to their existing
control and monitoring applications increasingly complex and expensive. Carlos Sanchez stated,
“Our customers were suffering from problems with the third party interface”. To address this,
Husky developed a protocol to interface applications with any type of Husky equipment. “Husky
Host” was a big success with customers, as it eliminated many adoption headaches, reduced
integration costs, made it easier to upgrade their plants, and alleviated Husky’s need to
support problems caused by 3rd party interfaces.
Figure 2: Before Husky Host, 6 separate drivers were needed to connect
3 different injection molding lines to two control applications.
Providing Maximum Value to Customers
Customers began asking Husky for complete turnkey solutions that would provide both equipment
and plant monitoring capabilities. Plant monitoring software would provide customers many benefits,
including the ability to access real-time equipment status, display trends, receive equipment
notifications, visualize processes, view machine performance reports and gather data for analysis.
Rather than write a comprehensive monitoring application, Husky chose to use an existing application
from Matrikon. An exhaustive review based on corporate culture, company commitment, and performance,
led Husky to Matrikon’s ProcessNet™ web-based monitoring application. Branded as Husky SmartLink™, it
would provide the control and monitoring software component of their turnkey offering.
Figure 3: With the Husky Host Protocol, only two drivers were needed to
connect two applications to all three lines of equipment.
To complete the solution, Husky needed a way for customers to connect their different generations of Husky equipment to SmartLink. They realized the proprietary Husky protocol would not allow them the necessary open connectivity into the application.
Again, after researching alternatives, Carlos Sanchez, Husky Project Manager for SmartLink, chose MatrikonOPC to provide the connectivity. OPC is a standards-based software communications protocol that provides a common data exchange method between industrial devices and applications. With SmartLink’s built-in OPC capabilities, OPC was a natural choice.
While newer controllers found in Husky equipment had built-in OPC connectivity; the majority of users had legacy equipment that had none. And DCOM (Distribute Component Object Model), the underlying technology used to carry OPC messages, presented configuration and security issues that made it very difficult to network the equipment together. To resolve these issues, Husky asked Matrikon to develop the MatrikonOPC Server for Husky Host.
"MatrikonOPC was very responsive and supportive in designing and building the OPC server. The server has been successfully deployed in plants throughout the world over the past two years, and is working trouble-free from Australia to the Americas and Europe".
Carlos Sanchez, Husky Project Manager
With MatrikonOPC server for Husky Host, the company continued using Husky Host to reliably connect legacy equipment together, avoid the DCOM setup and security issues, and have the data available to SmartLink. With SmartLink and the OPC Server in place, Husky had a complete turn-key solution that offers the benefits of SmartLink with the flexibility of open connectivity for their customers other equipment. Husky’s customers can now rely solely on Husky to provide all the services required for communication, data gathering and display without the complication of third party headaches.
Husky Clients See the Value
Amcor PET Packaging, a customer of Husky, is one of the world’s largest plastic packaging producers.
They manufacture a wide variety of containers ranging from plastic beverage containers to food and personal care items.
Robert Cooper, Manager of Controls Engineering for Amcor’s North American Office, led an initiative in 2003 to integrate all
Amcor plant equipment into a factory wide SCADA system for improved operational efficiencies. At the time, there was no
commercial solution for providing connectivity from their SCADA system to Husky machines.
Amcor considered two different solutions. First, create a hardware interface to each different controller platform that would
funnel data into a stand-alone system. This solution presented a number of drawbacks:
- The hardware based system required special programming for each machine.
- It would be difficult to deploy the solution to other plants
- The solution was not supportable by Husky
- Because it was hardware-based, it was more costly than a software solution, and required different hardware configurations for each generation of Husky machine
Figure 4: Husky machine data integrated into SmartLink via OPC
Amcor also considered using DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) offered by a 3rd party company as part of their visualization software package. However DDE was known to be problematic when deployed over a network and using a non-standard visualization tool did not fit with Amcor’s policy.
When Husky released their OPC solution, Amcor began testing it using the built-in OPC connector in their SCADA system, and within months, decided to standardize on this approach. The OPC solution provided them with a number of benefits, including:
- A Standard Ethernet Interface
- The solution was fully supported by Husky
- Amcor could employ central data amalgamation, with full network integration
- OPC was easily deployed to other plants
- OPC with Husky Host connected different generations of Husky machines with no additional effort
- No added hardware was required
Cooper commented “Amcor’s development approach is to build modularized object-oriented SCADA systems utilizing industry standards
such as OPC. Based on the Husky Host Interface with the MatrikonOPC server, we have developed an Automation Object that has all
the communications, logic, scaling and interfacing required to connect to a Husky Injection Molder which is housed in a single
container and can be dropped into our SCADA system like a plug in component”. He added “We were impressed by the benefits offered by
OPC, and have standardized on the technology corporate-wide for all of our connectivity”.
The success that OPC has delivered for a major customer has helped galvanize the importance of standards-based OPC at Husky. The MatrikonOPC server is offered on its own and has attracted business that otherwise would have gone to a third party. Sales of the turnkey solution SmartLink have been increasing.
Figure 5: Robert Cooper, Manager of Controls Engineering, Amcor, North America
Husky designs and manufactures the industry's most comprehensive range of injection molding equipment, including machines, molds, hot runners and robots. The company also offers value-added services including factory planning, customer training and systems integration. In fiscal 2005, sales were US$860 million, with approximately 3,000 people employed worldwide.
About Amcor PET Packaging
One of the worlds largest packaging companies, Amcor PET Packaging offers its customers the highest standards in quality and innovative packaging solutions, reliable service and partnerships built on excellence. Amcor PET Packaging has annual sales of US $2.3 billion and employs 5,800 people at 50 manufacturing locations and 20 on-site operations in 20 countries worldwide. Amcor LTD has annual sales of approximately AUD$11.0 billion, with 240 plants in 39 countries.
MatrikonOPC is the world’s largest OPC company. MatrikonOPC is a charter member of the OPC Foundation. With a collection of more than 500 OPC products and interfaces and over 100,000 installations worldwide, MatrikonOPC is the worlds largest developer, trainer and distributor of OPC products. For free downloads or more information visit www.matrikonopc.com.