Back in 2009, Paul M. Furley was working at JF Machines, producing user operator software for a digital printing machine dubbed the “PicoColour.”
After experimenting with a combination of in-house electronics and programmable logic controllers (PLCs), Furley became dissatisfied with issues such as vendor lock-in and quick software obsolescence.
“Simple servicing operations turn into a major hardware and software development exercise, leaving machines in the field vulnerable to failure,” Furley wrote in a recent blog post. “Add to this the fact that PLCs can cost thousands of [dollars] in the first place, and you can see why companies often develop a love-hate relationship with them.”
Ultimately, Furley turned to Atmel-powered Arduino boards, which he said came along at the “perfect time” for JF Machines.
“They had just developed their new ink circulation system: a serious affair with 5 separate ink bottles rising and falling to alter pressure along with precise temperature control,” he continued. “They needed a way to drive the bottle lifting motors, read in alarm signals and switch inputs as well as output various flashing sequences for the benefit of the operator. Although a PLC would have been suitable, Arduino seemed like a great option.”
According to Furley, Arduino boards offer JF a number of benefits, including supply security, flexibility, a PC connection interface, in-field modifications and cheaper components.
“For JF Machines, Arduino was a great fit. Although it has required them to gain new software development and organization skills, it has brought enormous benefits,” he concluded. “In their application – high tech, low volume – the Arduino is a fantastically cheap and flexible solution. It has enabled them to create tangible new features as well as reducing their support cost and effort.”
Very useful data. Hope to see more blogposts soon!
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