A control system upgrade by Italpresse Gauss, a Norican technology, has brought a legacy high-pressure die casting machine into the digital age for Ningbo Boli Automotive Components, a non-ferrous foundry based in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China.
Ningbo Boli, a subsidiary of Ningbo Heli Mould Technology Co., Ltd, specialises in the high-technology production of automotive parts using sand casting, high-pressure die-casting and gravity casting equipment. The company operates thirteen Italpresse die-casting machines, including four IP750T, 750-tonne, high-pressure die-casting machines. Although over 30 years old, these four machines still perform extremely well.
“Their casting quality remains far better than newer, cheaper machines with the same closing force,” explained Mr. Zhuxi Lin, project manager at Ningbo Boli. “So we didn’t want to scrap the equipment and replace it with domestic machines, new or otherwise. Instead, we talked to Italpresse about upgrading the equipment, especially the control system.”
The problem: an obsolete control system
Picking a single IP750T to upgrade first, Ningbo Boli knew exactly what the project’s priorities should be. Scrap castings had to be automatically separated from good castings while the new system had to support digital data collection, remote access and injection data analysis.
Any solution had to collect, store and display relevant process data like the injection curve in real time while making it possible to remotely access and export data so that managers could easily monitor die casting production.
At the same time, the system had to be simple and user-friendly so operators could easily supervise, monitor and control the tasks performed by the machine. This ease of use would also allow new technical personnel to learn how to operate it quickly.
Italpresse Gauss supplied a technical proposal and quotation in May 2019 for an EMP (Equipment Modernisation Programme). The EMP would install the IP LV (Light Version) supervisor control panel system. The IP LV had already featured in more than 40 successful upgrade projects but this would be its first deployment in China.
The solution: a new control system fitted in less than a week
The IP LV installed at Ningbo Boli in October 2019 is specifically designed to replace old Italpresse control systems like the SYSTEM 2000, SYSTEM 3000, SYSTEM PC and DIGISTAR. It employs the popular Gefran display controller which is compact, fast and easily accessible for maintenance.
The system’s new fanless 15” operator panel offers full touchscreen control and can record, monitor, analyse and display injection data in real time – very convenient for equipment maintenance technicians and machine operators alike.
IP LV’s fast network connectivity supports remote machine control and operation via VNC. Its Ewon industrial router enables remote troubleshooting and monitoring by on- or offsite engineers, and makes the machine Industry 4.0-ready, with comprehensive data collection and export abilities.
The results: cutting-edge digital control
“A big attraction was how short the whole upgrade period would be – Italpresse predicted one week of commissioning and delivery,” said Mr. Lin. “In fact, the project only took five days and, compared with installing new equipment, the cost was far lower.”
With only the electrical control system upgraded, the mechanical operation of the IP750T remains unchanged. However, it’s now possible to use the features of the updated control system to optimise the legacy machines’ performance to improve productivity and quality.
“Italpresse Gauss met every one of our requirements with this EMP which has proved to be a very cost-effective solution,” said Mr. Lin. “We are very satisfied with their efforts and with the better performance of the upgraded machine, especially its new digital capabilities. We’re looking forward to many more years of high quality production.”
“The IP LV control system upgrade is a great option for older machines that are still working well but whose control systems are obsolete,” concluded Mr. Lin. “We now intend to upgrade our other three machines with the IP LV system.”