Leading-edge user interface for extrusion lines - developed with users for users

Leading-edge user interface…

“With the new process control user interface, we have mastered the challenge of creating a clearly structured and intuitive system that perfectly reflects the simplicity and complexity of any plastics and rubber processing application,” says René Jordan, Teamlead Control Technology Automation Extrusion at KraussMaffei. The prestigious iF Design Award 2022 and the renowned Red Dot Design Award 2021 granted to the pioneer processControl system convincingly demonstrate that KraussMaffei has succeeded in combining an attractive graphic design with outstanding user-friendliness. At K’ 2022, the new control system combined with a ZE 28 BluePower twin-screw extruder will celebrate its premiere and will be presented to the public for the first time at stand C 24 to D 24 in hall 15.

The ZE 28 BluePower will play an important role in the live demonstration of the closed material cycle, in which a colored PP recompound for high-quality applications will be created from injection molded and subsequently shredded medical caps at the trade show. For sustainability reasons, such complex extrusion processes using reclaimed input material with varying characteristics to produce finished additivated and colored recompounds are becoming more and more standard in this branch of industry. The higher the process complexity in terms of feeding, coloring and degassing, the more data must be processed by the control system and displayed on the user interface. “The more data have to be displayed and considered at the same time, the more confusing the representation on the screen becomes. This in turn makes operation increasingly difficult and errors are likely to occur more frequently,” René Jordan reports from many discussions with users. This is why KraussMaffei focused on human-centered design in the development of the new interface and started preparing a requirements plan with customers from the tire, pipe and foam industries and in cooperation with the SKZ institute in Würzburg.

The new pioneer processControl increases production efficiency on the ZE 28 BluePower twin-screw extruder

On the basis of the requirements catalog resulting from these customer interviews, KraussMaffei then developed the innovative user interface together with Würzburg-based HMI Project GmbH, had it checked by test persons and finally optimized it. The result is an innovative human-centered design and operating concept that ensures optimal user support. Using the web-based WebIQ HMI and SCADA toolbox of Smart-HMI GmbH, the new design could be implemented almost 1 : 1. The web technology allows the HMI hardware to be used independently, so that even new applications on mobile devices can be realized more easily.

Wizards for enhanced production efficiency

The core feature of the new user interface are so-called wizards that provide the operator with step-by-step instructions for certain procedures such as starting the production line or shutting it down. “The new interface ensures that operators receive the right information at exactly the right moment and can additionally store their experiences in the system, so that colleagues will also benefit from them,” emphas René Jordan. This will enable even less experienced staff members to control complex extrusion processes. Operating errors are thus reduced, which minimizes standstill periods and optimizes production efficiency. The visual design of the display is simple self-explanatory, well-structured and clear – true to the motto “as much as necessary, as little as possible”. Any deviations from setpoints are indicated at an early stage by visual feedback, so that intervention is possible before it becomes even necessary. Thanks to the modular HMI design, new applications like KraussMaffei’s ColorAdjust color measuring and control system (which will also be exhibited at the trade show) can be integrated into the control interface without having to adapt the operating concept.
The visual design of the new pioneer processControl interface is self-explanatory, tidy and clearly structured arranged