Balluff Debuts Latest Automation Technology Including Tracking and Monitoring Tools

August 31, 2021 by Seth Price

What new products has Balluff developed in the last few months to promote factory automation?

Tracking the usage and uptime of molds for injection molding systems is an important yet tedious task.

Recently, Balluff released a digital tool to track and monitor the molds, making this task significantly easier. They have also expanded an existing license for automation cameras, aiming to make inspection tasks more affordable. This article will expand on some of Balluff’s recent developments in automation technology.


Injection Molds

Injection molds can carry a lot of secrets. Most injection molding operations have nearly identical molds that operate simultaneously to produce the required number of injection molded parts. Should one of these molds develop a defect, either from the mold being damaged or not cleaned entirely, the problem may not be detected for a long time, where defective products are getting rejected in the quality assurance department. If the molds are not managed properly, this could result in a hard shut down where all molds are removed and inspected.

Also, depending on the number of heating and cooling cycles or the usage time, molds must undergo an individual inspection process to verify that they have not warped or pitted during processing. Without a method to track which molds are due for inspection, this can be quite time-consuming and wasteful, as molds may be retired before the end of their useful life.


Tracking Molds

Balluff has developed a radio frequency identifier (RFID) system to track the molds. The Connected Mold-ID system can track every time a mold is used, schedule maintenance based on usage, and allow engineers to trace a problem mold to identify any lots affected.

Engineers can access the data from either individual molds or get an overview of the entire molding operation by logging into the database interface from any computer with an internet connection.


Injection molding machine connected to the Balluff Digital Tool Data Management System. Image used courtesy of Balluff


This allows them to check on problem molds or ensure that multiple molds are not going into preventative maintenance at the same time. Maintenance schedules can be displayed for an individual mold or for the entire inventory.


Camera Software Upgrade

In regards to inspection, Balluff also announced that their SmartVision inspection camera management software has been expanded. The expansion means that the software license will now accept input and manage eight cameras, which doubles the capability from the original four cameras. The software expansion is available as an upgrade to an existing license.

Cockpit, their camera management software, now supports four GigE cameras and four USB3 cameras. Logan Welch, Balluff’s Technical Sales Specialist, mentioned, “Any application with multiple points of interest can benefit from gaining the additional fields of view.”


Balluff’s camera management software license capability has been doubled. Image used courtesy of Balluff


The Balluff Data Tool Management System with Connected Mold-ID aims to reduce downtime caused by tool failures, reduce the amount of defective injection molded parts, and eliminate the hassle of scheduling maintenance. All of these have the potential to increase throughput and decrease scrap.

The camera license expansion is designed to speed up inspection tasks by providing twice the capability, meaning more defects are caught, and less manual inspection by an operator is required.

Balluff hopes these latest products will help engineers expand their capabilities on the factory floor.