VIDEO: Machine Tool Maker Brings Controls into the 21st Century

Hartford Innovation’s controllers prioritize user-friendliness.


Over the years, machine controls have become increasingly complex.
What started out as two hand wheels on the old manual mills has become a
full-fledged computer terminal with advanced functionality. Unfortunately, what
seems like an advanced system may not be particularly user-friendly.

Hartford Innovation, a Taiwan-based
machining center manufacturer, likens the changes in controls to those in
telephones. A classic landline can make calls, but a smartphone can connect to
the internet, take pictures and run various apps.

The company sough to
replicate this difference in developing its Hartrol Plus controller (of course,
whether they achieved this goal is for machine operators to decide). Like
smartphones, the controls are designed to provide full functionality while
being user-friendly.

company has also developed a process automation system called SmartCenter,
which is intended to manage workflows from the initial order all the way up to
quality assurance.

Hartford also makes an app which can interface with machines
equipped with the above controls to enable IIoT data monitoring.

We asked Daniel Lu, assistant GM at Hartford Innovation, if
he thinks mobile technology such as smartphones or tablet computers will ever
replace machine tool controllers entirely.

“I don’t think it will be possible, because the industry controllers
are for sophisticated and very complicated-to-control machines. They receive hardware/
software input and translate it to run the machines,” he said. “The iPad app we’re
developing is just a tool to make the operator and the boss of the factory able
to [monitor] the machines working in the factory. (…) you can use an iPhone,
smartphone, or iPad to utilize your machine operation.”

Taiwan is not typically regarded as a hub of machine tool
manufacturing, but the small country is actually the world’s fifth-largest
exporter of machine tools. Check out
this article
for more information.

Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.