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Building for the Future

Fieldbus and connection technology from Turck supports Stonemaker machines for mobile stone production

Stonemaker is a machine that has the ability to act as a fully functional yet portable stone making factory. Incorporating Turck products, especially plug and play connectivity, into this machine allows it to operate more flexible and be assembled on site anywhere in the world.

The first machine Gary Troke built worked just fine, but didn’t have nearly enough versatility to be used the way he envisioned in the field. The machine used manual switches, relays, and push buttons to operate which really hindered its potential uses in the real world.

Call for help

After struggling with the time consuming manual nature of the machine, Troke received a suggestion from someone he was working extensively with for the electrical part of the machine, Terry Kelly of International Hydraulics. Troke was working exclusively with Terry and he suggested and brought in Scott Price, from Turck representative Hilco Inc., to see what potential improvements Turck could make to his invention. Scott Price, along with fellow Hilco application engineer Bob Dodrill and Turcks network application expert Anthony Molnar, devised a plan to fully automate the processes. Working with International Hydraulics, and in turn, Turck, the machine has evolved into a mobile and versatile machine that can make concrete aggregate literally anywhere in the world, utilizing its ability to use almost anything and turn it into a sturdy, robust building block.

Once involved in the project, the trio saw a variety of ways Turck products could be used to improve and streamline the operation of the machine above and beyond just automating the processes. The machine now uses the modular BL20 programmable gateway programmed with CoDeSys, which offers the versatility that optimally suited the machine. It also uses mobile equipment sensors along with a transducer, which is connected to a compression head, to monitor the amount of pressure exerted on the material as it is molded into its intended form ensuring it meets local building standards.

Plug and play

Perhaps the biggest advantage found throughout this process was that Turck was able to provide an entirely “plug and play” connectivity solution creating modularity for the entire machine. As owner Gary Troke explains, “Connectivity turned out to be the key to the application; without the connectivity solution from Turck it would not be possible to send these machines all over the world with confidence they would work as intended after they got to their destination.”

Thanks to a custom panel located on the machine where all of the connections are made, this reassembly is a quick and easy process that does not require an electrician for wiring the devices. Overall, this digitized Turck solution allowed for the machine to be more productive and more reliable. The sophistication of the programming done by Turcks’ Anthony Molnar allowed the machine to use a single mold instead of cycling through hundreds of molds as the electrical configuration eliminated stops in the process which required multiple molds to be used. The programming also allows the end product to be produced with more consistency and cut down cycle times from 15 seconds per cycle to just 11 seconds.

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