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Learn how an integrated HMI makes powerful PLC control accessible to users

Industry - Pharmaceutical, Medical

Summary:  Coating Systems International manufactures equipment to apply pill coats to pharmaceutical tablets.  They needed a flexible control platform with good user ergonomics for a line of coating machines with a payload of up to 500 liters.  Coating Systems selected the UniStream all-in-one PLC+HMI from Unitronics, which offered flexible, modular I/O and clear, precise graphics.

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Coating Systems International, established in 1996, provides products and service tailored to the needs of their customers in the pharmaceutical industry.  One of their specialties is equipment that applies the coatings to pharmaceutical and nutraceutical tablets; they provide options for film and sugar coating of solid dosage products.  Coating Systems prides themselves on making equipment that provides an exceptional user experience, backed by impeccable support.

In order to meet their high standards for product performance, Coating Systems need a reliable, easy to use control platform.  They wanted a low cost, flexible controller for machines with a payload of up to 500 liters.  They also needed an operator interface with good user ergonomics that was effortless to customize between different markets, in order to deploy their products worldwide.

“We have found Unitronics to be one of those companies which inspire you to push the boundaries, we are reinventing a control system that has been around for many years on different platforms but with Unitronics we actively look to see how we can improve the product using the available technology but without it adding additional cost for our customers.”

 

The controller of choice for Coating Systems was a Unitronics UniStream modular all-in-one PLC.  They selected the UniStream PLC with 7-inch HMI; this all-in-one PLC has a modular design, with the CPU, I/O and communication modules snapping on to the back of the HMI panel.  Coating Systems liked this approach, because, as David Graham explains, the “highly flexible I/O selection allowed us to distribute the I/O around the machine.”  Additionally, the UniStream offered excellent connectivity, with standard feature like a built in webserver, VNC capabilities, data logging and export of CSV files for excellent monitoring and tracking across a variety of platforms.

The UniStream’s 7-inch color-touchscreen HMI panel allowed Coating Systems to represent the system and the control options using crisp, clear graphics. The screen quality was key to creating a user friendly system that relied primarily on images rather than text.  The UniStream offered Coating Systems the option of using both static and animated graphics, as well as embedding PDF, video and audio as needed.  One engineer noted “With the use of a base GIF animation file and almost unlimited overlay for conditions such as off, warnings or alarm status, a comprehensive screen can display everything the operator needs to know with little requirement to build up many different screens as has been done in the past, one screen replaces three.”  The UniStream’s powerful HMI features offered Coating Systems an efficient operator interface, which didn’t need translation to communicate across multiple languages.

Working with the UniStream allowed Coating Systems to expand the capabilities of their equipment.  David Graham explains, “We have found Unitronics to be one of those companies which inspire you to push the boundaries, we are reinventing a control system that has been around for many years on different platforms but with Unitronics we actively look to see how we can improve the product using the available technology but without it adding additional cost for our customers.”

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