Have you ever had a custom paint colour made? There’s a good chance that the retailer’s paint mixing machine was manufactured by Chameleon Colour Systems, in Tuam, Co. Galway.
The company, established in 1992, is a market leader in innovative colour tinting and mixing technology solutions, selling machines worldwide. Their major market is the paint and coatings industry, where Chameleon products are frequently installed at paint retailers to offer customers an ever-expanding choice of paint colours.
Addressing technical challenges
Chameleon collaborated with WiSAR Lab to develop a bespoke shaker and mixer control system to address the technical challenges facing the company and to further strengthen its position within the industry in Ireland and abroad.
We are living in an age where everything is gradually being connected to the internet, providing productivity benefits for both the suppliers of products and services and the consumers alike. This trend is often referred to as the Internet of Things (or IoT) and it is widely predicted that 50 billion things will be connected to the internet in the near future.
Chameleon needed to refresh their product line and took the opportunity to develop an intelligent IoT-enabled paint mixing platform.
Intelligent paint mixing technology
WiSAR developed a bespoke hardware and software solution to control the different aspects of the shaking and mixing machines and to give Chameleon an intelligent machine with connectivity to the internet.
The hardware comprised of a multi-board solution with a mini-computer at its heart. Embedded electronics capture button press data, I/O status, sensor information relating to different aspects of the machine and control information for turning on/off contactors and motors.
For example, the system holds a paint can in place using a clamp motor which is precisely controlled by correlating the current drawn by the motor to the distance travelled by the clamp motor.
The prototype machine is packed with advanced and industry-first features. It guides store employees to best practice, self-corrects for misuse and can distinguish between one large paint can or multiple smaller cans. However, the biggest potential benefits of the new platform are related to the data which can be gathered remotely and automatically from each machine.
A record of each mixing cycle is stored in an internal database, tracking the size of the can, speed, time and if the cycle was stopped prematurely, allowing the generation of an accurate report of the whole life cycle of a machine.
By using a WiFi or Ethernet network connection and ubiworx™ – an Emutex software framework – the system can be managed remotely, including automatic alert report generation to technical support when the system encounters an issue.
Ultimately, by gathering data from paint mixing machines remotely from around the world Chameleon will be able to predict failures and provide world leading support to their clients.
Funding from Enterprise Ireland
This project was partly funded by an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership. Padraic Timon, CEO of Chameleon Colour Systems, said of the project:
“Chameleon Colour Systems has had a working relationship with the WiSAR Lab in Letterkenny Institute of Technology for many years, so when it came to consider an investment in new product development, they were our natural choice. WiSAR developed a working prototype and a technology platform which we are presently bringing to production with our IoT partners Emutex. Wwe look forward to building on the technology to fulfil our vision of data-driven intelligent paint mixing systems.”