Technology for growth
From smartphones to electric vehicles, batteries seem to be everywhere – and new manufacturing facilities are built around the globe. For Maysun Corporation, this translates into an excellent opportunity expanding their business from Japan to overseas. For this purpose, the company has chosen Siemens as their trusted automation and technology partner.
Traditionally, the customers of Maysun came mostly from the paper and plastics industry, where their thickness measurement systems and slitting solution were used to monitor the thickness of flexible materials both with contacting and non-contacting methods and to cut the material web for further processing. Based in Fuji City in the Shizuoka Prefecture at the foot of Fuji Mountain, the company and its 40 employees serve renowned customers in these industries. However, the quality of Maysun’s products and solutions is being recognized in another industry as well: “At the moment, we get many requests and invitations for tender from manufacturers of electrode materials such as used for electric vehicle batteries”, says Maysun’s President Yoshihiro Tahara . Currently, many new facilities are being built, and in each manufacturing process, there is the need for stringent quality control. As electrode thickness affects the capacity, power density, and energy density of the battery, the electrode films and foils need to be constantly monitored – and this is exactly what Maysun’s thickness gauges are being used for.
MAYSUN Corporation is developing high performance slitters and thickness gauges used for applications with optical films, flexible boards, battery electrode materials and other flexible materials. For electrode materials produced for batteries and electric vehicles, MAYSUN offers a broad range of systems for measuring film thickness in-line, non-contact, and in real time with high accuracy.
Choosing the right technology for a global customer base
For Maysun, this new field of application also provides an excellent opportunity for expanding their overseas business in the United States, Europe, and Japan. However, Maysun also needed a suitable technology basis to make sure that their solution would seamlessly integrate into their customers manufacturing environment. This was why Maysun sought the support of Siemens, explains Mikio Muramatsu, who works as a Section Manager in the Development Department of Maysun: “We already had a long relationship with Siemens, and we were aware that Siemens products and solutions are widely accepted throughout the world. In fact, one of our clients from the battery industry specifically asked for a Siemens-based automation and drive solution.” Maysun and Siemens discussed the specifications to identify the optimum solution. One thing that the project team at Maysun initially worried about was about how to achieve CE and UL compliance, and this was where working with Siemens paid off. As Siemens systems and products are all designed for the international market, they are already certified according to international standards, which facilitates the development and implementation of a compliant solution.
The TIA Portal engineering framework offers a Windows-style interface, which worked well for me. As a result, I was able to intuitively create the PLC programs and HMI screens.Mikio Muramatsu, Section Manager, Development Department, Maysun Corporation, Japan
A smooth start into a new system
The first project to be implemented with the Siemens systems was a thickness gauge that had to comply with very stringent customer specifications. For this system, Muramatsu engineered a complete solution with a failsafe SIMATIC CPU 1516F controller, a SINAMICS S210 drive with 1FK2 motors, and a SIMATIC IPC677E industrial PC to run the measuring application, and a SIMATIC HMI system for operation of the machine. Moreover, Siemens also supplied the SITOP power supplies as well as switching and protection systems.
For Muramatsu, working with a new automation and drive solution posed some challenges, as he had to build a lot of knowledge in a short time, he says, but he was able to find his way with the new tools very quickly: “The TIA Portal engineering framework offers a Windows-style interface, which worked well for me. As a result, I was able to intuitively create the PLC programs and HMI screens.” For more detailed aspects, he took some technical trainings. “Some were done on site, but Siemens also offered online courses – this was especially helpful in the past year where in-person meetings were restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.” Siemens also supported Maysun when there were specific challenges through their local support, and the quick response times were something that Muramatsu really appreciated during the project.
With Siemens automation and drive systems, we are now able to offer a broader range of options for different applications and are better able to meet specific customer requirements.Yoshihiro Tahara, President, Maysun Corporation, Japan
Significant savings through an integrated solution
With the first project complete, Maysun is already seeing the benefits of having a fully integrated automation and drive solution: “Of course, there are some issues when you switch to a new system, but in the end we have implemented a solution that works really well and meets all requirements”, says Muramatsu. Moreover, Maysun and its customers benefit from a leaner architecture that is easier to implement and service. As all automation solutions can be based on a set of standard components, the inventory costs can be reduced significantly, with savings of up to 20%. Using Profinet as a networking standard has helped reduce wiring times by up to 10%. “One big change that we implemented also concerns the failsafe systems: Prior to using Siemens, we had to use two separate controllers in our equipment, one for regular automation and one for safety systems. Since the SIMATIC PLC combines both functions in one system, we can now eliminate the second PLC”, explains Muramatsu.
Well set for future projects
These benefits add to the general satisfaction with the new Siemens solution: “Thanks to the flexibility and broad range of available Siemens automation and drive systems, we are now able to offer a broader range of options for different applications and are better able to meet specific customer requirements. Not to mention that we are now fully capable of providing solutions that comply with international standards such as CE and UL”, says Yoshihiro Tahara. As a result, Maysun aims at making Siemens a standard offer for projects in Europe and the US. In the meantime, the next project is already in the making, and Maysun also wants to use the Siemens systems and products in their slitting machines – and using the expertise from the first project, Mikio Muramatsu is indeed looking forward to the new challenge.