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Application development

Open platform for machine builders

Eaton offers the Pro-FX Technology Platform, a software platform that streamlines application development and simplifies hardware setup. Pro-FX Control features both CANopen and J1939.

The VFX programmable display has two configurable CAN ports (Photo: Eaton)

The Pro-FX family includes durable, sunlight-viewable VFX displays with optional touchscreen and video inputs, HFX controllers with IP67 and IP69K ingress protection, and the Pro-FX software suite. The Pro-FX Technology Platform features a robust library of pre-programmed product and machine level functions that automatically scale input and output variables. It eliminates the need to build code from scratch, making it easier to design custom applications for many machines.

The software is a solution for programming specifically customized user interfaces and functionalities in a control system. Featuring CANopen and J1939 protocols, this software development tool is based on the latest version of Codesys and comes with Eaton’s full library of pre-developed function blocks. The platform is open and non-proprietary: Pro-FX Control is based on a global development environment, making it easier to integrate other machine sub-systems, add advanced functionality, and find qualified programming resources.

“Across industries, from agriculture to injection molding, end users are demanding more from their equipment, seeking machines that can intelligently sense and dynamically respond to conditions as they change,” said David Strohsack, director of Global Product Management at Eaton. “The Pro-FX open platform software supports six industry-standard programing languages, allowing machine builders greater flexibility in their advanced machine designs and associated design processes.”

The Pro-FX Technology Platform is the foundation for Pro-FX Ready products: hardware specifically designed to work out-of-the box as a standalone product or as a predefined sub-system, using existing machine peripherals and CAN data. Pro-FX Ready components, such as the CMA advanced mobile valve with independent metering, allows machine build and commissioning times to be reduced when compared to conventional manual or pilot actuated systems. The redesigned software tool features an intuitive interface that makes it easier to set application-specific parameters and perform real time performance verification over the lifecycle of the product.

Eaton offers on-site, in-person training with accredited instructors; an active user forum where Pro-FX software users can share best practices, and expert technical support with engineers. A distribution network that brings local support for specifying, prototyping, assembling, and commissioning is available to help get new equipment to market.

Custom control solution for curb machines

Mistakes can be costly when curbing concrete roads and highways, so Phoenix Curb Machines needed a precise control solution. Curbing machines face rugged environments: whether rain, heat, snow or hail, these on-highway vehicles need hardware that can survive inclement conditions. Phoenix tasked Eaton and its distributor with developing a custom control solution to enhance the concrete application process for the PCM-3300, PCM-6500, and PCM-7500 curbing machines.

Phoenix worked directly with Eaton distributor Spencer Fluid Power to design a custom-controller solution for its line of PCM slipform curbing machines. Using Eaton’s HFX programmable controllers and VFX programmable displays, Spencer Fluid Power created a solution that helped operators of the PCM line of slipform curbers take control of every system function on the machine to accurately apply concrete curb on roads and highways.

Eaton and Spencer Fluid Power developed a controller utilizing Pro-FX electronic controls and software (Photo: Eaton)

The Pro-FX family of electronic controllers and displays can be programmed to a variety of configurations with the Pro-FX Control software suite, providing the ability to quickly address the needs of the curbing machine with a specific coding structure. Using the software technology, Spencer Fluid Power helped shape Phoenix’s iTerra platform, a digital multipurpose controller developed specifically for Phoenix series curb machines.

With a five-week turnaround, Eaton and Spencer Fluid Power solved Phoenix’s need for an accurate, efficient curbing machine. “By using Eaton’s Pro-FX technology, our iTerra controllers have made the Phoenix PCM-3300, PCM-6500, and PCM-7500 more precise and efficient, with jobs completed in less time,” said Stu Johnson, President and CEO of Phoenix Curb Machines/Contech International. “The controller also features a complete self-diagnostic function, helping operators pinpoint and troubleshoot problems quickly, allowing for more pouring time and less downtime.”

iTerra allows Phoenix PCM curb machine operators to control the machines from a single interface similar to that of a game controller. Operators can control speed, hopper trim, cross-slope, vibrator speed, and direction all with the touch of a button. With the success of iTerra, Phoenix has enlisted the technology on 40 machines in 2015 and is looking to apply similar control solutions to a broader range of equipment.

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