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Automation Technologies 4/2015

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Automation Technologies 4/2015

CONTROL AND DRIVE

CONTROL AND DRIVE TECHNOLOGY PC-based control technology for special-purpose machines Robert Urech Vehicle steering column shafts are very sensitive, yet important, components of automotive steering systems. Accordingly, high demands are placed on the production of these products. LCA Automation AG specializes in these types of assembly plants, and values the openness and flexibility of PC-based control and drive technology from Beckhoff. Author: Robert Urech, Sales Office Manager, Zurich, Beckhoff , Switzerland

CONTROL AND DRIVE TECHNOLOGY LCA Automation AG, based in Switzerland, is a special-purpose machine manufacturer, particularly in equipment for the automotive industry. One of LCA‘s core production areas includes steering components, which it supplies to almost all of Europe’s vehicle manufacturers. Rainer Pölzl, who is responsible for project planning and control engineering, explains: “LCA Automation has benefitted from Beckhoff‘s PC-based control technology since 2 000. Originally we used our own proprietary hardware and software. However, since our customers increasingly demanded high end technologies, a decision to switch was made in 1999. There were good reasons for choosing Beckhoff, including the broad, scalable and open product range, and the high performance of Industrial PC (IPC) technology. It was important for us that PC control offered a highly flexible and integrated system of coordinated software and hardware, right down to the I/O level. The technology also offered significant advantages in terms of horizontal and vertical integration, due to the fact that the openness of the system facilitates the integration of our machines in interlinked assembly lines at the end customers, as well as communication with their MES and ERP systems.” Due to high complexity of the proprietary axis and process control system, the only way to move forward was a gradual migration towards a fully PC based control solution, as Rainer Pölzl recalls: “First, the existing control software, which had been specifically tailored to our needs, was mapped to TwinCAT. Over the years, more and more processes were migrated and developed further.” Due to the openness of PC control, LCA automation was initially able to run it in next page

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