Fast track development of the automation process in China
There is hardly any other country where automation and digitization is currently progressing as dynamically as in the People’s Republic of China. The strategic areas of the industrial development program “China 2025” also include CNC machines. High-tech, German companies are amongst the preferred technology partners, as demonstrated by the market segment for cutting machines.
Eckelmann AG, founded in 1977, specializes in control equipment for machines. The company, based in close proximity to Frankfurt, Germany, has established a high level of expertise for certain applications, including oxyfuel, plasma, laser and water jet cutting, for example. E°EXC control units are among the most technologically advanced CNC control units for cutting applications. They have a wide range of technology-specific functions, such as integrated height control tools and plug & play solutions for various laser and plasma power sources. In addition to conventional cutting processes, the control unit also supports cutting of various bevel and pipes, drilling, and marking applications. The mechanical engineer can thus rely on fully developed solutions to accelerate the engineering process and launch high-performance machines on the market within a short time.
Complete CNC solution for standard cutting machines
Since 2012, Eckelmann has also been supplying its solutions to Chinese mechanical engineers via its subsidiary in Beijing. Its complete, out-of-the-box CNC solution for standard cutting machines offers mechanical engineers a technological advantage thanks to the simple integration of high-quality and future-oriented functions. The compact control unit, with the melodic Chinese name “ba ba ling E°EXC 880”, is preconfigured for all standard cutting technologies and includes all of the frequently used I/O functions.
Amongst other things, the I/O functions include an output for the pulse width modulation required to control the laser output, for example. The control unit supports all of the conventional plasma power sources, laser sources and laser heads as standard. Complete technology packages can be pre-installed for laser cutting or plasma and autogenous cutting, thus enabling a simple plug & play function to be used. Thanks to the integrated I/O functions, modules do not need to be combined thus reducing the amount of cabling work required whilst minimizing possible errors.
Application-optimized operation and customized features
The user interface has been optimized for the cutting process. It focuses on practical needs and is being developed on a continuous basis. It also includes a modern, graphical macro library with around 50 standard components for the efficient and intuitive NC programming.
The functionalities of the compact control unit have a lot to offer. The E°EXC control range supports most common CNC technologies, such as milling and drilling, and the open design of the control unit ensures that it is very easy to integrate additional drilling or milling devices as well as other processing technologies. The integrated PLC can be used to manage sequence controls for conveyor systems, for example. Only a few specialized control units available on the market can offer such flexibility.
The all-in-one CNC solution is limited to four interpolating axes and is thus not subject to any export restrictions. A total of up to eight CNC axes can be controlled. While the modular E°EXC 66 system can be used for more complex applications.
Chinese EtherCAT standard
“EtherCAT is certainly becoming popular in China, especially since the Chinese government declared EtherCAT 2014 to be the national Chinese standard, explains Huang Weiming, General Manager at Eckelmann Beijing. “We have been supporting EtherCAT as a drive bus since 2011 and are thus one of the trendsetters in the Chinese cutting market.”
Xu Guanghui, the Managing Director of Tangshan Rate Technology Co., LTD. explains: “We have successfully implemented controls from Eckelmann since 2013. A decisive factor for us was the high level of quality and reliability of the components. The compact control units have been developed from a considerable amount of cutting expertise. It has helped us to significantly reduce our time-to-market. We also value the solution-specific support for the applications provided from Wiesbaden and Beijing. Well-developed, Western control technology is helping us to achieve a competitive advantage.”
For every requirement
If additional processing power is required for more demanding applications, such as the precise bevel cutting or machines with up to 32 CNC axes, mechanical engineers can use the modular E°EXC control system and configure a tailored solution. Powerful controllers and I/O modules are available for this purpose.
As the all-in-one control system and its big brother, the E°EXC 66 use the same NC core, all of the machines can be equipped and managed with the same control system, regardless of whether they are small series machines or up to 25 m long high-end portal machines.
Innovative partner for cutting solutions
“We do not simply want to export our CNC controls to China, but see ourselves as an innovative partner for Chinese mechanical engineers,” explains Roland Simon, Sales Manager at Eckelmann.
Two current trends that engineers are facing include the fact that various processing technologies are increasingly being combined in one machine and that the complexity of applications is increasing. The E°EXC from Eckelmann and its comprehensive application support provide mechanical engineers with a perfect solution for cutting and other CNC technologies.