Optalex Total Control



The List of Major Benefits is as Follows

  • 20% reduction of push cycle.
  • 2% to 5% reduction in scrap.
  • Quality increased through isothermal extrusion.
  • Consistency between operators and shifts.
  • A window in which to view the complete process

Optalex records all parameters once a second + all changes to stored programs etc. This data is available in an ‘open’ SQL database. Anyone with an internet browser and the correct permission can access the information recorded over years. It removes the guesswork from the extrusion management process.

As the installed base approaches 100 systems, Optalex are the clear leaders in this area of process control.

Optalex, who hold the patents for the Optalex concept in all major markets are dedicated to the development of Process management Control Systems within the Aluminium Extrusion Industry.

Optalex not only provides the ‘closed-loop’ regulation to deal with the day to day variations in furnace / press / billet quality but it now deals with the issues around consistency of production. Our ‘recipe’ system provides a ‘stored program’ for every individual die this program contains settings for furnace, press, pumps, exit temperature and puller etc.. Given the same die but different operators or shifts, the user produces the same profile as the last time and maintains CONSISTANCY



The Optalex™ Total Control System

1. 10% to 20% more metal from the press

The gains come from 3 separate areas

i) Short-Term (each push)

  • By controlling the speed of the push and keeping the exit temperature constant we push much faster at the start of the billet and then slow towards the end. This variability during the cycle is always faster than a constant speed push. Typically 10% faster than any manually set constant speed press

ii) Medium Term (each shift)

  • This is an active control system - it measures the exit temperature 3 times every second. If the billet is too cold, then it will speed-up the push to compensate - if the billet is too hot it will slow the push and avoid a puller breakage or metal deformation. That saves time over the length of a shift by avoiding press down-time. This will typically give a 5% improvement over a shift.

iii) Long Term (each week)

  • The human element - different operators - new operators - night shift operators and the general inconsistency of any human based on external inputs. A good analogy is the comparison between an auto transmission and a manual transmission on a car. It doesn’t matter who is driving or the mood / ability of the driver. The auto-box makes the same clean and consistent gear changes day after day. A mistake avoided that would have lead to the press being down for 4 hours contributes a lot to the percentages. Typically gains are 5% over the week.

2. Scrap reduction

The Optalex is an active control system - It will compensate for incorrect billet temperatures and give accurate and correct temperatures at the press exit. In the normal case, the log furnace is a relatively inaccurate device and will easily have a +/-25 Degree variation in output. The Optalex system will compensate for this and hold the extrusion exit temperature to +/-3 Degrees. In addition, should there be a delay in the production cycle, then the billet at the loading stage will be cooling - when the delay is cleared then the cold billet is loaded. The Optalex will cause the press to push harder and hence hold the output temperature at the correct level. The next billet could well have been overheated so the Optalex will cause the press to slow and avoid the possibility of scrap or press down-time.

3. Quality improvements

Because the Optalex extrudes at a constant temperature from the start of the push through to the very end, the metallurgical properties are kept constant throughout. This gives both a consistent surface finish and the dimensional stability that is so important for many customers. If, for instance, the extrusion is to be anodized then a variation in output temperature during the push results in variation in finished color - more scrap and customer dissatisfaction.

4. Consistency

One of the big problems facing every extruder is that different shifts and different operators achieve slightly different results from the same die. These differences may be dimensional / surface quality / metallurgical properties and are caused by the differing parameter settings chosen by each operator. Optalex offers the extruder a full control system based on operator logging and setting permissions such that a combination of existing control practices and agreed new control parameters allows each die to be run within extremely close limits each time it is used.

5. Quality control.

From the minute the Optalex is installed, it records all available parameters against every billet ever extruded. The data is stored in an open format SQL database which is accessible to anyone on the network with the correct permissions. A standard report generator is available with the system and reports are easily modifiable to suit individual requirements. Also, because the system is ‘open architecture’ the user can utilize any ‘third-party’ report generator like Crystal Reports. The result, better management and control of the overall extrusion and production process, enabling the user to produce the required quality certificates and adhere to the principals & practices of common quality control systems such as ISO 9000.

6. Savings/Pay-back

Based on a conservative 10% gain in metal from the press and a 2% decrease in scrap, the Optalex system will give a ROI of around 3 months. Payback based on cost reduction when not running at full capacity is typically less than 6 months. It is clear that the savings will surpass purchase costs - even with a 1 year lease.

7. Additional features & benefits

Automatic Die Optimization - now available with Optalex. When a new die is introduced the system automatically discovers the optimum conditions and parameters. Provided the operator is satisfied with these conditions he or she presses the ‘save’ button and any future use of that die will cause the same parameters to be used automatically.
After a Die change it is normal for a user to run a good number of billets to stabilize the temperatures throughout the press. With Optalex, the control of temperature is so accurate, that it is possible to produce good metal on the 1st full billet. A user will typically decide on billet length based on the maximum extrusion temperature. Thus he will start the push at the minimum extrusion temperature and reach the maximum temperature at the end of the push. That final temperature typically dictates the billet length. With Optalex, the billet can be made longer because Optalex makes sure that the profile is not too hot at the end of the push.

8. Remote operation, management reports & alarms

Optalex is a network based system. It is only a matter of the permission settings that can constrain any user on the network from gaining access to he system. Of course, the opposite is also true, in that the Optalex can send messages to anyone on the network. Every operation that can be performed using the Main Work Station beside the press can also be performed at any remote point on the network. The following are some instances of where the above features are practically applied:

  • Extrusion manager can get a customizable real-time graphical display of press operation and performance on his PC.
  • Extrusion manager can do the same from his home (via modem, DSL etc) when called with a problem.
  • Plant manager can have a concise display (small window) showing current ‘pounds per hour’ and shift average ‘pounds per hour’.
  • Alarm message can be sent to Extrusion Managers PC when press ‘dead cycle’ is greater than 5 minutes.
  • Predefined and customizable reports can be sent to the email addresses of various staff at varying times of the day.
  • Optalex service staff can gain access upon request to review performance and analyze potential fault conditions.

9. More than 100 systems already sold

Optalex has sold and installed more than 100 systems of its unique ’Total Control System. The record so far is that all those who bought one system and had other suitable presses, also bought further systems.

Customer Reference List

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