Project: Multi-Axis Control System

custom-programming-caseCase Study: Custom Programming

A Minnesota tool and die company contracted Puffin Automation to design, assemble, install, and commission a multi-axis control system for a new-generation production machine. This machine control needed to include 7-servo axes to allow punching and finishing slots and mounting holes in plastic channeling. There are multiple configurations of slots and mounting holes for each of the multiple-channel cross sections that can be run in this machine. The machine has interchangeable die sets that are swapped, as needed, for the different channel part numbers. There are approximately 100 different channel part numbers to be produced, each having different slot and mounting hole locations. All slot and mounting holes must maintain an accuracy of +/-.010”. The machine must allow for safe operator access to load and unload the channel, as well as change the die sets.


The existing machine was causing too much down time, did not have adequate machine safety systems in place, and was unable to keep up with production demands. The existing machine also had a long change-over time when switching to different channel types, where changing production from one configuration to another took several hours – sometimes an entire shift – and left room for operator error.


Puffin Automation designed, assembled, programmed, and commissioned a machine control system to integrate with the customer’s new machine design.  The control system included 7 axis of integrated Allen Bradley motion with the safe torque off feature, Allen Bradley operator interface, CompactLogix controller, RSLogix5000 software, and Banner SC series safety controller, with safety light curtains and guard door switches. The entire control system is linked via Ethernet/IP to provide reliable integrated motion, control and status reporting.

The control system includes ‘recipes’ of the desired channel part to be produced. The operator-selectable recipes include these parameters: side slot spacing, mounting hole spacing, side slot starting point, mounting hole starting point, proper die set(s) to install for given part, etc. This recipe-based system allows for dramatic savings in machine set up and change-over times. The set ups are 100% repeatable, ensuring that products are configured correctly and reliably every time, and leave no room for operator error.

case-studies-page-9-image-2How it Works

Machine settings and manufacturing parameters are programmed into the machine controller and are saved as “recipes”. Every configuration has its own recipe and each recipe contains all necessary information to produce the desired product. Operators can change the machine setup by simply selecting a recipe and changing the die set(s) as required. The resulting production line change-overs occur in minutes instead of hours.