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Case Study

Plastics Industry Leader Revitalizes Product Line with Maple Systems HMI

This competitive industry requires highly accurate, reliable machines to enable companies to produce high quality parts. Fast Heat specializes in hot runner temperature controllers which allow the manufacturer to accurately control the temperature of plastic material as it flows into a plastic injection mold.
Plastics Industry Leader Revitalizes Product Line with Maple Systems HMI

Industry: Plastics
Location: Illinois, USA

Visit the Fast Heat Website

Fast Heat Inc is a trusted supplier of temperature control and diagnostic equipment used in the plastics injection molding industry. Fast Heat temperature controllers provide superior control over the process and create repeatability with the most demanding molds and materials. In early 2021 Fast Heat was acquired by Spark Industries which was formed by two long time Fast Heat managers. By purchasing Fast Heat Inc., Spark Industries had a built-in customer base and a reputation for being reliable, cost effective, and easy to use. Spark Industries was intent on improving and expanding on Fast Heat’s product line to grow their customer base and sales.

Project Overview

Spark Industries had a problem. Their most popular system, the Pulse 2 Temperature Controller had an obsolete HMI on it they were no longer able to purchase. This system was a tried-and-true machine many customers had come to rely on and was a great seller for the company. Some feature highlights of the Pulse 2 include:

  • Controls up to 180 temperature zones in a hot runner injection mold system.
  • Allows the user to independently control many aspects of each zone such as:
    • Six different control modes.
    • Temperature and power set points.
    • Set point limits, alarm, and abort limits.
    • PID control loop parameters
  • Shows real time zone status in numerical and graphical format.
  • Easy to use copy and paste features making it faster and simpler to set up the whole control system for a new mold.
  • Retains 50 separate recipes, each of which contains operating parameters for each zone as well as mold and system set up information.
  • Security system restricting access to screens and parameter settings to qualified personnel.
  • Alarm and fault indicators that tell you exactly ware and what the problem is and how to fix it.

The Pulse 2 is straightforward and easy to understand and operate due, in no small part, to the intuitive design of the interface.

Project Scope

Spark Industries wanted to replicate this ease of use in a new HMI but faced several obstacles. The control board at the heart of the system communicates with the HMI using a custom ASCII protocol. Purchasing an off the shelf solution from any HMI vendor and using a standard protocol was not an option. They would need a product flexible enough to handle their custom protocol yet wanted a well-supported product line that would save them having to develop a custom solution from scratch.

The Solution

How could Spark Industries continue to support this popular machine? Enter Maple Systems. Not only did we have a competitively priced HMI that could do the job, but we also had the know how to get our HMI communicating with their custom control board.

Spark Industries identified a 10.1" Maple Systems HMI (HMI5102L) as an HMI that could do everything they needed it to. Programmed with our free configuration software, this flexible HMI not only has many built in communication protocols, but also has a flexible macro feature that can be used to create a completely custom communications protocol. All at a very competitive price.

Spark Industries also took advantage of our Applications Engineering program. Our talented engineers worked closely with Spark Industries to understand the ins and outs of how their machine worked. We were able to write a custom protocol driver from scratch specifically for their machine.

The look and feel of the HMI screens were painstakingly replicated with a few modern updates making the system even more operator friendly. The replacement HMI is just as reliable and intuitive as the old display, preserving the experience their customers have come to appreciate.

Our Value Promise

Long renowned in the Industrial Automation industry for the quality of technical support we have provided for decades, Maple Systems has a reputation for connecting customers with someone who knows our products inside and out. Whether it is one of our trusted System Integrator partners, Distributors, or our own engineering team, we are happy to connect you with a knowledgeable engineer dedicated to understanding your application.

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Application Engineering

In an industry where every advantage counts, collaborating with a trusted partner will get your project where you want it to be, fast.

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