Engel is stepping up its U.S. presence with two technology partnerships in the Detroit area.
The partnerships fit into the machine builder’s strategy to grow market share by focusing on cells that offer integrated automation and specialized mold technology. The approach often involves advanced technology, such as low pressure compression injection molding (“coinmelt”), MuCell foam injection or special composite processes.
Engel calls the new Technology Center at the Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering facility in Rochester Hills, Michigan, “a model for Industry 4.0, smart factory initiatives: maximizing productivity, flexibility and quality of the manufacturing process through a fully integrated, automated and optimized production flow.”
The center will include Engel machinery ranging from 340 to 3500 US tons, each with an integrated linear (3-axis) robot. One of the goals of the Technology Center is to improve the integration of mold and machine to increase production efficiencies and part quality.
The SA Engineering Technology Center in Livonia, Michigan, is equipped with five Engel injection molding systems, including a 3,500 ton press. Trexel, the developer of MuCell, is also a partner.
“The SA Engineering Technology Center is primarily automotive focused, but not necessarily. It brought together our desire to create a center of development for advanced injection molding technologies with Engel’s constant push to expand the envelope of injection molding techniques,” said a spokesperson for SA Engineering.
In advance of K2016, Engel this month announced several expansion projects, with a focus on increasing capacity for large machines in Austria and general machine manufacturing in Shanghai. The company’s capital expansion budget for its current fiscal year is $113 million. Sales last year were $1.4 billion.
Engel’s focal point at K2016, which will be held in Düsseldorf, Germany, Oct. 19-26, will be the “smart factory” or “Inject 4.0”
Process conditions on networked machines will automatically adjust to changes in molding conditions. The exhibit will incorporate the latest developments into technologies that Engel has been working on for several years.
One example is mold temperature control. The company introduced an electronic temperature-control water manifold system at K 2010. The newer e-flomo system monitors and documents all cooling and temperature control circuits of injection molds and independently regulates either the flow volumes or differences in temperature.
New for K 2016, the e‑flomo and temperature control unit merge at controller level to form a single unit. With the help of the new iQ flow control software, the pump speed is adapted automatically to current requirements based on measurement values determined by e-flomo. The temperature control units are made by HB-THERM of St. Gallen, Switzerland.
Also new at K2016 will be an energy module on the company’s proprietary plant monitoring system that provides details and analysis on energy consumption.
Engel is working to establish OPC UA (Open Platform Communication Unified Architecture) as a shared information system in the plastics sector, even in the field of condition monitoring.