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ABB and Tatham, a textile machinery company, have developed technology to provide higher production speeds with improved product weight distribution for cross-lapper control.

A cross lapper accepts a lightweight fibre web from a carding machine and uses it to build up a heavier web in layers (known as a batt).

The cross lapper overlaps the layers by means of a complex arrangement of conveyors and reversing mobile carriages that turn the material through 90deg.

Typical end products include automotive textiles, bedding, industry felts and filtration media.

Tatham’s latest TSX control system utilises ABB high-performance machinery drives and servomotors.

Several panel combinations are available depending on the existing cross-lapper configuration.

The system is linked to the master process control using Profibus.

An ABB AC500 programmable logic controller (PLC) provides positioning data to the drives that convert it into control signals to maintain the speed of the servomotors.

Jim Kelly, senior electrical engineer at Tatham, said: ‘Together with ABB, we developed a control software based on the ABB drives’ programmable function blocks, which mean we had a system that provided precise positioning that is repeatable, resulting in total control of the batt profile.

‘The heaviness of the batt is a function of the speed it is laid down at and, using the ABB PLC, drives and servomotors, allows us to vary this precisely, giving a much more accurate and controllable build-up of the layers.

‘We can adjust the speed of the carriage at the edges of the batt to avoid distortions and maintain the correct thickness across the entire width,’ he added.

All parameters can be adjusted from the latest touch-screen operator interface.

The batt thickness can be adjusted across its width to suit the product requirements with coefficient-of-variation (CV) values of around +/-1 per cent.

It is also possible to shape the batt to any required profile.

The accuracy of the ABB high-performance machinery drives enables the TSX system to precisely control web delivery to achieve the required batt profile.

As well as significant fibre savings, the TSX is also said to be very energy efficient.

Before a recent installation, the cross lapper used 60A peak, but following the installation of the ABB high-performance machinery drives, this has been cut to 15A.

By monitoring the final product with a suitable measuring system, Tatham can offer a closed-loop control system to automatically adjust the batt profile to the preset requirements.

It can also be extended to link with Tatham’s own TS weight control system if required.

ABB Automation Tech – Drives and Motors

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