The system has particular advantages when compared with competitor's products, one of the key elements being the flexibility of the system. Engineers experienced in automation can easily master the PANAX real time control language. This allows relatively easy set-up of complex automation functions. It also allows for the remote modification and updating of systems, using a personal computer.
The control system has the capacity has the capacity to control complex functions, together with a high degree of parallel processing. This means that many simultaneous events can be monitored and controlled.
The control system has a high level of "determinism". This means that the response time to any external event can be exactly predicted, which is an essential requirement for an automation engineer.
Specific examples of particular features are as follows:
- Wear compensation tables. This technique was developed for re-furbishing gear-cutting machines, and making use of less than perfect mechanical screws etc. From time to time a machine can be calibrated, and any non-linearity in its mechanics can be stored on the controller. These compensation figures are then used to make small adjustments when the machine is operating. This technique could usefully be used for precision machinery builders who want to save costs by using lower precision components.
- Effective variable circumference cylinders. This allows a single cylinder which is being used as part of a process (e.g. a cylindrical cutter, or a print roller) on a continuous web to operate at a variety of different pitches. The roller is synchronised with the web whilst it is printing or cutting, and is accelerated or decelerated during the "dead" period to allow a range of pitches to be printed or cut using a single roller or cutter (generally expensive components).
- High speed data logging. This can be linked to motion control, and allows the monitoring of a combination of analogue signals, positions, and counters down to 100 s resolution. This information can be recorded in real time, and then downloaded to a personal computer by serial link for analysis on a spreadsheet etc.
- Mechanical component simulation tables. Mechanical components (e.g. cams, eccentric gears etc) can be created using internal tables. It has the advantage over mechanical components that they can be changed at the press of a button.
- Vision system controls. Commercial vision systems (Keyence) have been integrated to provide precise correction for placing operations. This is being used for aligning rain-detectors on motor car windscreens.
- Smart Card system. When a machine is being used to make a range of different complex components (e.g. a machine tool), each component can be stored on a smart card.
- "Soft" dynamic registration control. A technique for producing accurate (zero drift) but gentle corrections based on registration sensing for web based machines. This technique has been used for controlling print rollers which are not mechanically connected to the rest of the machine. It has also been used controlling bag manufacture at companies like Smith Anderson. It has been found that the quality of simple mechanically linked printers on bag machines has limited the market available to bag manufacturers. The solution has been to pre-print higher quality material, before it gets to the bag machine. The bag machine then has to respond to the print and cut the bags in the correct place, without making to big corrections (which would tear the material).