As a material for the home, workplace, or retail environment, tiles provide a robust and durable surface that can be both practical and elegant. With earliest examples dating back to the 13th century, they last for decades with no visible loss in pattern brilliance or color fade. As good conductors of heat, they adapt to the room’s warmth and help keep your home feeling cozy. And when compared to other materials such as timber and marble, they are highly sustainable as they are made of natural material.
A core step in the manufacturing process is the application of glazes, engobe (a colored slip), and other crystalline protection. These provide adhesion to the tile body along with the required high abrasion resistance and anti-slip coatings needed for locations like restrooms and kitchens where water is present.
Companies such as E.G. Sistemi s.r.l YES! are focused on system integration for the manufacturing equipment used in today’s highly automated ceramic industry. Situated in the ‘ceramic valley’ in Maranello, northern Italy, they have recently retrofitted the multi-axis airless station with independent translators.
Such equipment is coupled with a conveyor belt that delivers tiles to the airless station where they are processed according to one of a number of recipes. Once the process is complete, the tiles are transported to the next stage by the conveyor belt. Such a dirty and dusty environment demands reliable multi-axis motion controllers and motor drives for the servos. Additionally, a robust and easy-to-use human-machine interface (HMI) is essential.
At the core of the implementation is a Delta DVP50MC series motion controller. Capable of controlling up to 24 axes in one millisecond, this solution supports both single-axis motion instructions, such as velocity, torque, and position, as well as multi-axis instructions, such as electronic cam (E-CAM) and gear. G code can also be used. On the connectivity side, CANopen, RS-232, and RS-485 are available in addition to EtherCAT for the motion control and an Ethernet port. Other signals can be wired to the 16 high-speed inputs, while eight high-speed outputs provide additional control options. The DVP50MC also supports an SSI absolute encoder and two incremental encoders to provide servo position feedback.
The multi-axis airless station only requires three axes for its three independent translators. To implement this, three ASDA-A2-E series servo drives with STO safety function were coupled with three 180 mm, 3 kW ECMA series servo motors featuring integrated encoders. The servo drives link back to the motion controller via EtherCAT. By combining these two components, the team benefitted from precise control provided by the 1 kHz frequency response and 1 ms settling time. This provided superlative vibration suppression for accurate material application during tile processing. A further benefit of these servo drives for this design was the support for up to 720 electronic cam (E-CAM) points in the ASDA-A2-E. The configuration software ensures that smooth interpolation points can be defined automatically, simplifying programming.
The DVP50MC is also responsible for controlling the conveyor belt. For this task, the team selected an MS300 series compact vector control drive to couple with the chosen motor. This variable frequency drive (VFD) series supports motors from 0.2 kW to 22 kW and is available in both single and three-phase options for everything from 115 V to 460 V systems. Remarkably space-saving at 40% smaller than comparable drives, the MS300 simplifies installation and wiring within the electrical cabinet. The unit is linked to the motion controller via RS-485.
Rounding off the implementation is a 15-inch, DOP-100 series HMI that enables the operator to select the correct recipe for the tiles being manufactured. Part of Delta’s advanced design offering, this display provides a narrower frame that leaves more room for displaying the input controls and system feedback. With an IP65 rating, it is more than ideal for the wet and dirty facilities of tile manufacturing and, thanks to multi-lingual support, ensures simple deployment across the world when required. Thanks to its power isolation, the display is also well protected from accidental surges caused by other equipment on the same electrical supply.
Beyond the hardware’s capabilities, the short learning curve for the software development of the DVP50MC really excited the team. Thanks to the ease of defining E-CAM and GEAR control, they completed around two-thirds of the software implementation within a single day. Furthermore, having all the elements sourced from a single supplier ensured that, should an issue arise, only a single contact was required to resolve it. “Sorting out development problems is also possible remotely,” says Giuliano Castioni, Field Application Engineer. “By leveraging our ASDASoft servo software, we could trace the source of a vibration issue back to the mounting bolts used. As a result, the customer saved much time thanks to our rapid problem resolution.”
With all the components coming from Delta, interoperability is given, ensuring a smooth development path. Such was the success of the initial four prototypes, E.G. Sistemi s.r.l YES! is working on building further machines. The combination of easy-to-program motion controllers and excellent support from Delta’s support team ensure that Maranello retains its status as the place to source outstanding tiles.