About the customer
Our customer started up in 2012 as an autonomous department within a larger business and specialises in producing advanced sheet-to-sheet and roll-to-roll systems for Printed Electronics applications such as flexible solar panels, OLED lighting, displays, sensors and batteries.
The customer asked us to develop a roll-to-roll system capable of transporting a very thin substrate, a film of just a few microns thick. This product is a component used in the production of organic photovoltaic systems, commonly referred to as solar panels. The main challenge was finding a perfect balance between web tension, speed and position. An additional challenge was that the substrate had to be guided over the transport rollers without physical contact.
We were involved in developing and building the drive for the transport system for unwinding, winding and transporting the film. The drive is based on a Bosch Rexroth Motion Controller, servo motors and controls. The safety system has also been designed into the Bosch Rexroth configuration. This required close collaboration between the customer, Bosch Rexroth and VHE.
The design was produced in accordance with the customer’s specification. VHE used the Eplan P8 engineering tool to design the control panel and terminal boxes, which were also constructed in our workshop.
In addition, VHE wrote the control software in accordance with the ISA88 standard. The design brief was to build up the system based on modules. The customer wanted transparent and flexibly structured software modules to allow easy replacement, modification and addition of modules. A team of four software engineers at VHE worked for several months on developing the software and writing the control algorithms. This required us to dissect the functionality of the motion control at an extremely detailed level.
VHE has a great deal of expertise in the area of servo technology and regularly applies Bosch Rexroth products. In addition, VHE is a full-service partner that is capable of designing the hardware and software and then manufacturing the final control panels.