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Obertshausen - Warp knitting machine builder Karl Mayer has been honoured with a high-profile design award for its latest Kamcos software interface.

The Obertshausen-based firm has been awarded the iF Design Award 2016 for its KAMCOS 2 user interface system, and consequently the iF label as a symbol of outstanding design.

The iF award has been a globally recognised symbol of exemplary design for more than 60 years and is awarded each year by iF International Design Forum which is based in Hanover. The number of entrants for this year’s competition was extremely high, and the role of the international jury of high-ranking experts was to award the coveted quality seal in seven disciplines from among more than 5,000 applications from 53 countries.

The touchscreen KAMCOS 2 system was entered in the section of Communication - Apps/Software section with the jury impressed by the optimised user interface design which focuses on the user.

According to Karl Mayer, in the past it was simply a question of operating the warp knitting machine, but nowadays it has to be handled intuitively. “Our concept is based on a system of simple, easy-to-understand, practical handling operations," explained Oliver Krakow, the Senior Manager Electrical Engineering R&D Department. "During the development process, we therefore concentrated, on the one hand, on visualising the processes, which were not consequently designed from a technical standpoint but on the basis of the machine’s operating sequences on site. The operator is helped by being guided through his daily jobs – from entry of the yarn into the machine to production of the final fabric. On the other hand, we looked at established user practices, i.e. at the types of hand movements and swiping features used on smartphones and tablets.”

The operating concept, with process-oriented main navigation systems, can be used via a modular arrangement and a uniform interface for the various types of machines. This applies to every area – from warp knitting, through warp preparation, to the production of technical textiles. For specific configurations, the contents of the production side can be adapted to the requirements of the user roles or machine features. To avoid any operator errors, monitoring algorithms have been integrated, and access is controlled via an RFID data chip with a specifically authorised access key in each case.

Interaction is also facilitated by functional, animation features. As Krakow explains: “When designing the screen changes, we avoided sudden jumps and went in for smooth transitions instead.”

Extending the functions to mobile devices complements the project. In this way, KAMCOS 2 enables data to be accessed remotely by mobile devices using the Karl Mayer Connect app.

As well as the user interface with its exceptional design, KAMCOS 2 is also said to provide all the performance features of a modern automation platform. All the functions of modern textile machines can be fully integrated. This is based on the principles of an efficient, real-time data bus. The integrated elements include the Laserstopp yarn monitoring system for the instant detection of yarn breakages and rapid machine stoppage, a newly developed camera monitoring system for inspecting the textile web, and a new machine lighting system with status indicator for providing information on the operating status.

The next step was transferring the concept to the entire product range. The development of KAMCOS 2 was a high-priority, interdisciplinary project carried out by Karl Mayer. A large team of mechanical engineers, software developers and automation engineers from various business units and locations worked flat out to present to the market the first machines equipped with this new automation platform in time for the ITMA trade fair in November 2015. These were the high performance tricot machine HKS 2-SE and the new Wefttronic HKS weft-insertion machine.

“The roll-out of KAMCOS 2 to all our tricot machines will begin on 1 July,” said Krakow when speaking about the next stage. “We also intend to extend the concept by additional functions that are applicable to our other machine ranges.” But for the moment, the Senior Manager development department is delighted that the company has been awarded the iF Design Award 2016. “This award has made all our hard work and effort worthwhile, and will help us to communicate the advantages of KAMCOS 2 to the market,” he said.

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