Future factory – a moderator’s impression!

01/02/2016

Read-out was asked to moderate the automation stream at the National Manufacturing & Supplies conference held last week outside Dublin. (26th January 2016). In their wisdom the organisers selected “Future Factory!” as a title for this half day seminar and there were 11 speakers organised to speak on their particular subjects for about 15 minutes each. This was replicated in the the over a dozen different seminars held on this one day.

q#MSC16

Long queues lasted well into the morning to enter the event!

We were a little sceptical that this would work but with the help of the organisers and the discipline of the speakers the time targets were achieved. Another target achieved was the number of attendees at the event as well as those who attended this particular seminar.
In all between exhibitors, speakers and visitors well over 3000 packed the venue. Probably far more than the organisers had anticipated and hopefully a potent sign that the economy is again on the upturn. Indeed it was so successful that it was trending (#MSC16) on twitter for most of the day.

Seminar
But back to our seminar. If you google the term Future Factory you get back 207million links, yet it is difficult to find a simple definition as to what it means. The term automation similarly is a very difficult term to define though the term in Irish “uathoibriú” perhaps is a bit clearer literally meaning “self-working.”

uturefactory.jpg

Good attendance at the Seminar

Background
The world of automation has changed to an extrordinary degree and yet in other ways it remains the same. The areas where it has experienced least change is in the areas of sensing – a thermometer is a thermometer – and final control – a valve is a valve. Where it has changed almost to the point of unrecognisability is in that bit in the middle, what one does with the signal from the sensor to activate the final control element.

From single parameter dedicated Indicator/Controller/Recorders in the sixties which transmitted either pnuematically (3-15psi) or electrically (4-20mA). Gradually (relatively speaking) most instruments became electronic, smaller in size and multifunctional. The means of communication changed too and fieldbus communication became more common to intercact with computors which themselves were developing at breaknech speed. Then transmission via wireless became more common and finally the internet and the ability to control a process from the computer that we call the intelligent phone. There are problems with these latter, internet/cellphone, of course. One is that the reach of the internet is focussed at present on areas of high population. Another is the danger of infiltration of systems by hostile or mischivous strangers. The importance of security protocols is one that has only recently been apparent to Automation professionals.

• Many of the presentations are available on-line here. The password is manufac2016

The Presentations
Maria Archer of Ericsson spoke on the enabling and facilitating IoT in the manufacturing industry. Diving straight into topic she drew on her experience of big data, e-commerce, media, cyber security, IOT and connected devices.

The second speaker was Cormac Garvey of Hal Software who addressed Supply Chain prototyping. The Supply Chain ecosystem is incredibly complex, usually requiring significant integration of each suppliers’ standards and processes to the manufacturer’s. Cormac will introduce the concept of supply chain prototyping, where easy-to-use, standards-based technology is used to wireframe out the entire supply chain ecosystem prior to integration, thus significantly reducing cost, time and risk on the project. This wireframe can then be used as a model for future integration projects.

Two speakers from the Tralee Institute of Technology, Dr. Pat Doody and Dr. Daniel Riordan spoke on RFID, IoT, Sensor & Process Automation for Industry 4.0. They explained how IMaR’s (Intelligent Mechatronics and RFID) expertise is delivering for their industrial partners and is available to those aiming to become a part of Industry 4.0.

Smart Manufacturing – the power of actionable data was the topic addressed by Mark Higgins of Fast Technology. He shared his understanding of the acute issues companies face on their journey to Business Excellence and how leveraging IT solutions can elevate the business to a new point on that journey.

Assistant Professor (Mechanical & Manuf. Eng) at TCD, Dr Garret O’Donnell,   explained how one of the most significant initiatives in the last 2 years has been the concept of the 4th industrial revolution promoted by the National Academy for Science and Engineering in Germany- ACATECH, known as Industrie 4.0. (Industrie 4.0 was first used as a term in Germany in 2011).

Another speaker from Fast Technologies, Joe Gallaher, addressed the area of Robotics and how Collaborative Robots are the “Game Changer” in the modern manufacturing facility.

Dr. Hassan Kaghazchi of the University of Limerick and Profibus spoke on PROFINET and Industrie 4.0. Industrial communications systems play a major role in today’s manufacturing systems. The ability to provide connectivity, handle large amount of data, uptime, open standards, safety, and security are the major deciding factors. This presentation shows how PROFINET fits into Industrial Internet of Things (Industrie 4.0).

White Andreetto

Maurice Buckley CEO NSAI

The CEO of NSAI, the Irish National Standards Authority, Maurice Buckley explained how standards and the National Standards Authority of Ireland can help Irish businesses take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution and become more prepared to reap the rewards digitisation can bring.

The next two speakers stressed the impact of low forecast accuracy on the bottom line and how this coulbe be addressed. Jaap Piersma a consultant with SAS UK & Ireland explained that low forecast accuracies on the business performance is high in industry but with the right tools, the right approach and experienced resources you can achieve very significant result and benefits for your business. Following him Dave Clarke, Chief Data Scientist at Asystec, who mantains the company strategy for big data analytics service development for customers. He showed how are incredible business opportunities possible by harnessing the massive data sets generated in the machine to machine and person to machine hyper connected IoT world.

The final speaker David Goodstein, Connected Living Project Director, GSMA, described new form factor mobile SIMs which are robust, remotely manageable which are an essential enabler for applications and services in the connected world.

All in all a very interesting event and useful to attendees. Papers are being collected and should be available shortly on-line.

It is hoped to do it all again next year on 24th January 2017- #MSC17.

See you there.

@NationalMSC #MSC16 #PAuto #IoT


The impact of AI on education.

07/12/2015

Emerging technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are poised to have a big impact on education and are already being used worldwide as an effective tool to enhance the learning experience. AI expert Toby Walsh, a professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales (AUS), says developments in this field have already proven that “it’s not difficult to replace a teacher with a machine.”

Toby_Walsh

Professor Toby Walsh

Over the past 21 years, OEB, the global cross-sector conference on technology-supported learning and training, has attained international esteem by presenting eminent experts whose strength lies in identifying new trends in learning and technology. At this year’s event, which opened today with more than 2000 participants from over 90 countries, AI and robotics will be put in the spotlight. World-renowned industry experts will demonstrate and discuss the opportunities presented by these fast-evolving technologies – and their implications.

“We’re seeing MOOCs and intelligent tutoring systems all start to replace some aspects of teaching,” explains Walsh, keynote speaker at the recent OEB 2015 in Berlin (D). He says that in “well-defined domains like maths”, it is already possible to bring AI, in the form of tutoring systems, into the classroom.

In addition to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects, the realm most commonly associated with AI, researchers and developers are experimenting with how it can be used in artistic contexts such as music and dance. On OEB’s Spotlight Stage, which will play host to creative thinkers and innovators, AI pioneer Dr Luc Steels of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel presented the results of a three-year project in which he created a “smarter” MOOC for learning music using artificial intelligence.

Over a period spanning more than two decades, OEB has earned – and sustained – the reputation of being an education conference that is widely recognised as one of the world’s most exciting, challenging, and inspirational. Over the next two days, the future of learning will be explored in over 100 parallel sessions, presented in a range of formats including workshops, plenaries, discussions, debates, labs, demonstrations, and performances. Furthermore, the expansive exhibition area will feature 79 international edtech providers, ranging from established market leaders to emerging start-ups.


220,000 people integrate and join the network at #HM15.

20/04/2015
Spotlight on “Industry 4.0”, robots and intelligent energy systems while India sets new standards as Partner Country.
Germany's Dr Angela Merkel and India's Shri Narendra Modi at opening ceremony of 2015 Hannover Meße

Germany’s Dr Angela Merkel and India’s Shri Narendra Modi at opening ceremony of 2015 Hannover Meße

Stories shared with Read-out from this years Hannover Fair! Other Reports: • Automation World • The Industrial Ethernet BookProfiBus/Net Reports! • Gil Community

After five action-packed days of industrial innovation, dynamic networking and lead generation, HANNOVER MESSE 2015 – the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology – drew to a close on Friday, 17 April, to rave reviews by exhibitors and visitors. With “Integrated Industry – Join the Network” as its keynote theme, HANNOVER MESSE 2015 soared to new heights, striking an inspirational note among exhibitors and attendees from industry, business and government.

The show placed major emphasis on the digitization of manufacturing as well as on human-machine collaboration, innovative subcontracting solutions and intelligent energy systems – topics which pulled in the crowds. More than 220,000 trade visitors – 70,000 of whom came from outside Germany – used HANNOVER MESSE to catch up on the latest technologies and make key investment decisions.

“HANNOVER MESSE 2015 has made it unmistakably clear: Industry 4.0 has arrived, and is sweeping every sector of industry. Digital integration is becoming a key aspect of modern manufacturing, and this trend is set to continue at a rapid pace,” commented Dr. Jochen Köckler, member of the Managing Board at Deutsche Messe. “Over the past several days, some 6,500 companies from 70 countries have showcased technologies for tomorrow’s production plants and energy systems. And India has made a real splash as this year’s Partner Country, creating a truly impressive showcase to promote its ‘Make in India’ campaign.” Under the motto of “Integrated Industry – Join the Network”, HANNOVER MESSE 2015 gave tangible shape to the vision of the “intelligent factory”. In the factory of the future, information will be seamlessly exchanged between machines and products, ensuring optimal results and peak efficiency.

According to Köckler, “HANNOVER MESSE 2015 has demonstrated that ‘Industry 4.0’ is far more than an inspirational buzzword – it is a reality. For the first time, the smart-factory solutions advertised here can be bought for direct implementation at customers’ plants.” Robots also figured prominently at the fair, drawing keen visitor interest with their captivating demonstrations of speed, precision and power. HANNOVER MESSE 2015 also revealed a new trend in this field, with protective barriers no longer separating robots from people, but robots taking their rightful place alongside human co-workers as versatile team players handling monotonous and physically demanding tasks. “Robots have been uncaged and can now directly support production crews,” said Köckler. But integration is not confined to mere production operations, as energy systems also rapidly become intelligent, driving the transition to renewable forms of energy. An increasing number of decentralized power generators – including wind, solar, hydroelectric and biogas plants – are being hooked up to the grid. “The challenge of combining all these forms of energy generation into a single intelligent power grid, and distributing this power adequately to consumers, has been impressively addressed by the many exhibitors showcasing their pioneering solutions for the energy sector at HANNOVER MESSE,” Köckler noted. “Around the globe, there is a lot of debate about whether Germany is not only a leading industrial nation, but also a leader in terms of Industry 4.0. A quick look at the show’s attendance figures says a lot about this,” remarked Dr Köckler.

Of the more than 220,000 visitors at HANNOVER MESSE, 70,000 were from abroad – a new record. “From rank-and-file SME employees to the CEO of industry giant Foxconn – all of them came here to Hannover to explore the opportunities for more integrated, faster, more individualized production. That means they are in the market for leading-edge technology – that is, for Industry 4.0. And they know that Germany is already far down the 4.0 path, and this why they turn to HANNOVER MESSE for the related expertise.” The pulling power of Industry 4.0 was also highly evident in the strong demand for guided tours, forums and events addressing the topic at the fair. According to Köckler: “The 4.0-related guided tours for visitors were booked solid. So was the Industry 4.0 forum. And we ran out of copies of the Industry 4.0 visitor guide in the first few hours. The supporting program of panel discussions and events also proved highly popular.” HANNOVER MESSE visitors were delighted with India’s confident, innovative and fresh presence as this year’s Partner Country. India succeeded in positioning itself as an up-and-coming industrial nation, with more than 400 companies displaying their goods and services at the show. India’s objective was to encourage foreign companies to set up shop there, and to encourage Indian enterprises to form even closer partnerships with German business and industry. “India put in an impressive performance, here in Hannover and throughout Germany, making ideal use of the opportunities generated by the Partner Country showcase. It has set new standards for partner countries at HANNOVER MESSE,” remarked Köckler. In the words of Anupam Shah, Chairman of EEPC India (Engineering Export Promotion Council of India): “Hannover Messe 2015 has been a tremendous success for India in every respect. As the Partner Country at one of the world’s largest engineering fair and under the leadership of the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi and Commerce & Industry Minister, Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman, Indian companies were able to showcase their technical skills, engineering capabilities and human resources before a global audience. EEPC India, which is the lead agency for India that brought 350 companies of diverse economic scales to display their engineering competence, is truly proud of having undertaken this mammoth task successfully under the guidance of the Indian Ministry of Commerce and other agencies. Major Indian companies like Roots India, HEC, to name a few, signed MoUs with their German counterparts. EEPC India also signed an MoU with BVMW, the leading German association of SMEs with 2,70,000 members. EEPC India expresses its sincere gratitude to German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel, Vice Chancellor Mr Sigmar Gabriel, Minister-President of Lower Saxony, Mr Stephen Weil and other senior officials for their support in making India’s participation a grand success. EEPC India pledges to build this relationship for mutual benefit in the years to come.”


A new (3-D) perspective in presence detection.

06/04/2015
Irish/German co-operation in new technologies creating a paradigm shift in the planning of safety for current and future manufacturing systems.

Presence detection is a critical element in the basis of safety for many pharmaceutical and bio pharmaceutical processes. Detecting presence of workers prior to start-up and during operation of machinery and processes is an effective means of injury prevention. Likewise product can be protected from human contamination using collaborative robots allied with relevant 3-D presence detection. The pharmaceutical sector has always had to deploy sophisticated processes and technology in its manufacturing environment while maintaining the highest safety standards.

G-Funktionsprinzip-SafetyEYE-EN-568This is an approach which responds positively to the need for worker safety while minimising production disruption. Process components such as centrifuges and barrel mixers pose a significant risk to workers because of high speed rotational action or agitation. Likewise transportation of storage units such as intermediate bulk containers and the use of automated wrapping and palletising machinery create the need for effective safeguarding. 3D sensing systems provide many advantages through the introduction of barrier-free safeguarding.

SafetyEYE, a 3-D virtual detection system, provides a comprehensive protection zone around such machinery. Developed jointly by the Pilz Software Research and Development team in Cork (IRL) and the Product Development division in Ostfildern (D), the company considers SafetyEYE as an example of new technologies creating a paradigm shift in the planning of safety for current and future manufacturing systems.

Named ‘Safety Company of the Year’ for 2014 by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) Desmond-South Munster Branch, the award recognised Pilz’s commitment to continuous innovation, singling out the development of SafetyEYE as central to this commitment.

Bob Seward, chair of the IOSH Desmond-South Munster Branch, said: “The development of this innovative SafetyEYE technology will make a significant difference in terms of protecting people at work while they operate around machinery danger zones. Our members were very impressed with SafetyEYE and what it can achieve in terms of accident prevention and safeguarding workers.”

The world’s first 3D zone monitoring system SafetyEYE comprises a three-camera sensing device, an analysis unit and programmable control capability.

The sensing unit creates the image data of the zone to be protected and the stereoscopic cameras allow for precise distance and depth perception. Adjusting the height of the camera device allows for varying zone dimensions and areas of coverage. The image data is processed by the analysis unit to detect any intrusion of the defined 3-D protection zone and is relayed to the programmable safety and control system (PSS) for activation of the appropriate safety response.

The avoidance of an obstacle-course of physical guards has obvious advantages for increased freedom of interaction and ergonomics between machinery and humans without compromising safety for both. Because of the highly configurable software a wide range of detection zones can be designed either using pre-defined geometric forms or bespoke shapes. These zones can then be assigned various safety-related actuations with reference to the risk from an audio-visual warning to shut-down.

SafetyEYE can be used to prevent start-up of machinery when persons are in a danger zone or provide warnings and if necessary activate a shutdown if an operator enters a danger zone while such plant is running. The system can be configured to signal a warning as the worker enters the perimeter of the defined safety zone and as he continues further into the zone initiate further safety actions. The machine can remain in this suspended state while the worker completes his task. Once the worker has cleared the area the machine’s activities can resume in accordance with the worker’s egress from the safety zone. This incremental reactive capability allows for minimum downtime and so optimal productivity is maintained. For workers who only encroach on the outer points of the safety zone the triggered warning will uphold the safety integrity of the work space without limiting operation. Likewise, the system can be configured to allow for pre-defined spaces within the protection zone to be breached without shut down. This is especially useful for supervisory personnel who need to access control components which lie within the safety zone. Again they may complete their task safely without the need to disrupt the manufacturing process.

To achieve the same level of safety in such a scenario as this, a whole range of other safety measures may have to be deployed, such as guard-doors, with the physical and visual restrictions these solutions will impose. Safety for workers venturing beyond these guards would then require optical sensors which operate two-dimensionally along a plane and may require a multiplicity of sensors to provide comprehensive monitoring. This mix of solutions can present significant cost implications and their static single-plane positioning will raise costly design challenges. As SafetyEYE is positioned above the manufacturing area it does not present any physical or visual obstruction and it is also far less likely to be interfered with than other ground-level safety measures which are always more vulnerable to intentional or accidental interference. The 3-D zonal capability means that one sensor unit can provide far more safety coverage than the planar sensors. Such imaging-based devices also have a recording functionality so that safety zone breaches can be recorded or production activity monitored to feed into productivity metrics.

These attributes were acknowledged by Bob Seward of the IOSH when presenting Pilz with the award. “With the introduction of this certified technology, safety can no longer be seen as a barrier to work, slowing work down or stopping work. It can be truly integrated in the work system.”

Pilz Ireland managing director John McAuliffe said: “Pilz were honoured to receive this award. The area of safety in which we work is constantly changing and Pilz need to be innovative in order to provide our customers with solutions that achieve safety in lean manufacturing environments.” Providing services from risk assessment, safety design and safety training to customers all over the world the company views continuous development of processes and products, such as SafetyEYE, as vital in meeting the constantly evolving demands of the modern manufacturing environment.

The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI) estimates that 34% of primary pharmaceutical operations in North America by 2018 will be carried out by robots, compared with 21% in 2013. This increasing automation, along with the rapid growth of collaborative robots across all sectors, is heralding a new era of human-robot interaction in manufacturing.

SafetyEYE is especially effective in ensuring the safe deployment of collaborative robots which are ideal for handling materials and ingredients in a decontaminated environment but which require some level of interaction with operators who need to approach to carry out supervisory, control or intervention tasks.

Such are the potential production efficiencies brought about by collaborative robotics in the bulk pharmaceutical manufacturing sector that Health and Safety managers, engineers and suppliers will need to align their safety strategy in line with this new industrial environment.

As with all new technologies care and due process must be exercised in the integration with other plant and machinery. Structured risk assessment considering the specific hazards leading to intelligent safety concepts are the key to successful adoption of such new technologies. Pilz is pioneering safe automation with the continuous development of its services and products, such as SafetyEYE, ensuring that its customers can anticipate the safety challenges presented by industry developments such as collaborative robots.


Wash, Rinse, Dry: Cleaning mass-produced automotive parts!

04/08/2014
High quality components keep vacuum cleaning plant running smoothly

The Multiclean-D-4-4-F full vacuum plant from Höckh is a true giant among washing machines. While the drum of a household washing machine can hold six kilograms at any one time, an industrial washing machine recently delivered to a German customer can take two 600 kg loads of metal parts for the automotive industry.

Festo’s  technology keeps the twin-chamber cleaning plant running smoothly.

The Multiclean-D-4-4-F full vacuum plant from Höckh is a true giant among washing machines.

The Multiclean-D-4-4-F full vacuum plant from Höckh is a true giant among washing machines.

In metalworking, greases and special emulsions protect cutting tools against wear. While this is good for the machines, it leaves a residue on the metal parts and must be removed before further processing. Assembly processes or surface treatments such as galvanising or painting require clean parts. Depending on the application, aqueous cleaning solutions or solvents can be used.

Solvents are preferable to aqueous cleaners for oily mass produced parts for the automotive industry as they are quick, economical and resource-saving. A new twin-chamber perchlorethylene-based cleaning plant from Höckh Metall-Reinigungsanlagen GmbH has raised the bar with operation under full vacuum.

When integrated into the production cycle, it increases part throughput significantly. Up to ten crates filled with pressed and stamped parts pass through the system every hour in a three shift operation. State-of-the-art valve terminal technology from Festo contributes to this excellent performance.

Everything in one chamber
The capacity of the huge washing machine for metal parts is simply enormous. In addition to rapidly cleaning large volumes of metal parts in either a 65° or 98° wash with liquid or vaporous perchlorethylene, the system also dries the parts using a vacuum after they have been washed. And all of this in less than 15 minutes per crate.

Before that, the pressed parts are transported in bulk. Forklift trucks move the parts in crates measuring approx. 900 x 800 x 850 mm and with a total weight of between 500 and 600 kg. To select the right program, the system operator simply scans the bar code on the accompanying ticket. As soon as he has left the loading area, automatic feeding begins and the crate is transported to the next free process chamber. To achieve the required capacity of 10 batches per hour in a three-shift operation, the process has been divided between two chambers.

The door of the giant washing machine drum is closed by a standard cylinder.

The door of the giant washing machine drum is closed by a standard cylinder.

The loading gantry then loads the rotating crate holder and a Festo standard cylinder DNG with a stroke of 180 cm closes the sliding door of the process chamber vacuum tight. When it reaches the last few centimetres, a clever toggle lever mechanism ensures it is firmly closed.

When the door reaches the last few centimetres, a clever toggle lever mechanism ensures it is firmly closed.

When the door reaches the last few centimetres, a clever toggle lever mechanism ensures it is firmly closed.

10 batches per hour
Depending on the parts type, this is then followed by an individual cleaning programme, which can be made up of various modules such as evacuation of the process chamber to process vacuum, pre-washing in the spray process, flood cleaning (full bath) from tank one, post washing in the spray process, flood cleaning (full bath) from tank two, vapour degreasing with solvent vapour and vacuum drying. A limit value encoder monitors the drying process so that only completely dry, solvent free parts are removed from the process chamber.

When the door reaches the last few centimetres, a clever toggle lever mechanism ensures it is firmly closed.

When the door reaches the last few centimetres, a clever toggle lever mechanism ensures it is firmly closed.

The cleaned parts then pass through a cooling tunnel on the unloading roller conveyor so that the crates can be packed directly for shipment. To achieve maximum flexibility, the system was designed as three separate modules.

For cleaning there are two identical, completely independent cleaning modules with process chamber, twin tank, distillation plant, pumps and filters. Because of standalone operation, one module can be switched off in the event of maintenance or low capacity utilisation and the system can continue to operate at half capacity. Both cleaning modules are connected to a central supply module, which houses the vacuum pumps as well as the activated carbon absorber for process air preparation.

The entire vacuum performance of over 1,000 m³/h can be divided into variable ratios between the two process chambers if required. This ensures a very high throughput for the size of the chamber and the complexity of the process of 10 batches per hour.

Reliable process engineering
This demanding process is kept running smoothly by a variety of Festo components. These include valve terminals type CPX/MPA with Profibus control. These valve terminals look after all of the process engineering, activate the angle seat valves and the actuators, ensure the crates are locked and control the liquid transport and the vacuum.

Thanks to ‘intelligence on the terminal’; the cleaning plant from Höckh does not require any additional multi-pin cables. The MS series service unit ensures correct and reliable compressed air preparation. The latest Festo technology also offers a condition monitoring option. Values such as maximum, peak and average consumption as well as effective and apparent power are displayed.


A win – win situation: Cost optimisation on both sides!

30/06/2014

Silo management for grain mills and their customers!

In Germany alone there are more than 260 large flour mills, in Asia the grain market is significantly greater and a very important industry. All around the world the situation is similar: Well-planned routes and carefully calculated stock levels are vital to achieve max cost optimisation during the material delivery process, however these are more than often jeopardised by daily reality.

WPAlogo
UWT Level Instrumentaion is marketed in Ireland by Wolf Process Automation

Bakeries, the customers of the mills, often place their orders to late and the mills are faced with having to supply material immediately in order to avoid production stop at the bakeries. This leads to unnecessary logistics costs caused by multiple deliveries and ultimately to an increase in costs for sides, the supplier and the customer. This is obviously in no one’s interest. But why are we confronted with these “fire-fighting” situations and how can they be avoided?

Lack of storage management in bakeries
Even bakeries with multiple storage silos often do not have an automated level monitoring system to control their inventory levels. Therefore these stocks have to be checked manually on a regular basis and an order has to be triggered to the flour supplier on time. Due to unforeseen fluctuations in demand or simply by not having verified the stock levels sudden emergencies arise that lead to unplanned extra tours for the mill.

Just the installation of sensors for level monitoring in the silos of the bakeries would bring a partial improvement. In this context often the willingness to invest is lacking because “it´s working as it is” regardless of the fact that it is a very costly and inefficient way to do it. But the ideal solution would be that the mills take responsibility of the level monitoring centrally for their customers and offer this as a special service thus optimising their own material and delivery disposition and at the same time reducing the administrative effort involved.

Of course the cost question arises immediately – who should pay?! Or maybe does it pay for itself? In fact, closer analysis shows that the mill’s investment would amortise itself in a relatively short time due to the cost savings brought about by the optimised supply chain process.

Central-level measuring for mills
UWT GmbH are known in the industry as the expert for level measurement in bulk solids and have been providing made-to-measure solutions for many decades. With its long-term experience it has developed an economical and practical solution in the form of a central level-remote system for flour mills. This system works like this:

Lotsystem Nivobob® NB4200

Lotsystem Nivobob® NB4200

On each silo of the bakery the maintenance-free lot system Nivobob® 4000 is fitted for level monitoring. For easy mounting, just a standard 1.5 inch threaded socket in the silo roof is necessary. At the bakeries the level signals are bundled by the UWT software Nivotec® combined with a Wago WebController and the information received is passed to the Internet using an Ethernet connection via a routed IP address. The mill can securely access this information (password-protected) via any internet browser at any time of the day over a pre-defined IP address). It is possible to include any number of other customers in the visualisation system – without additional hardware or costs for the mill. If the priority is to keep installation at the bakeries to a minimum a GSM modem can be used to remotely access the data. In this case for the data transmission no Ethernet connection is required, but only a SIM card in the WAGO to pass the modem. This modem collects all level signals and sends them in an encrypted log via mobile phone over the Internet to the appropriate controller in the mill. As only small amounts of data are being sent is a low priced SIM contract sufficient for this purpose.

Current silo levels always comfortable available on your PC using visualization software Nivotec®

Current silo levels always comfortable available on your PC using visualisation software Nivotec®

The current silo levels can be displayed at the mill control center using the UWT Nivotec® visualisation software which can be accessed via the Internet browser on any Ethernet PC. The controller can see the real-time status of the silos because the visualisation controller is directly integrated into the Ethernet system.

Advantages and benefits of the level-remote system:
The benefit of the whole system is the simplification of the material disposition processes leading to a reduction of costs for all parties involved.

  • The installation of the system in the bakery as well as in the mill is straightforward and can usually be carried out by the mills own service engineers
  • Control cabinets only have to be set-up once; afterwards no additional IT support is necessary.
  • All silo levels can be visualised at the same time
    -> material planning security
  • The system can be dismantled at one customer and installed again at another  -> no new costs when customers change

The mill is able to hold the correct material in stock according to the customer’s material requirements and can optimise the logistical routes and schedules. Simply the availability of the required information which can avoid the need for express deliveries or empty runs can reduce the administrative effort dramatically. On the customer side, at the bakery, the task of manually checking the material level within the storage silos is eliminated and production bottlenecks due to a lack of material are history.

The material flow now follows a standard process with much greater planning security: Last but not least it naturally leads to a more harmonious working relationship and increased satisfaction on both sides which ultimately mean a stronger partnership between customer and supplier.


Cavity pressure monitoring ensures zero defect injection moulding!

16/06/2014

At German injection moulding specialist, neo-plastic Dr. Doetsch Diespeck GmbH, monitoring the quality of large-scale production of injection moulded parts is not a matter of chance. Using cavity pressure to determine the switchover to holding pressure for process optimization and cavity pressure-based monitoring from Kistler Instruments for quality assurance using both direct or indirect cavity pressure measuring, ensures minimum rejects. The medium-size German company focuses on producing high quality technical components mostly for manufacturers of ball bearings, linear guides and the automotive industry.

vontwickelInjection moulding of hinge covers is a typical example of seamless in-line quality assurance. These flat, palm-size SEBS parts protect the sensitive electric seat adjustment systems during the production of foamed car seat systems. The seat manufacturer inserts the injection moulded covers into a mould, where they form a very tight bond with the seat during foaming. Although these inserts are installed in a concealed place, they need to be precisely moulded to ensure that they are fully functional.

The injection moulding machine for this project, acquired in 2008, was equipped with a machine control system that provided outputs for pressure signals and integrated cavity pressure monitoring. Each cavity of the 2+2-cavity hot-runner family mould for the production of right-side and left-side hinge covers is equipped with Kistler 2.5 mm pressure sensors.

For other projects, the company also deploys Kistler’s CoMo Injection system. “CoMo is fully configured for analysing and monitoring injection moulding processes. When it comes to direct comparison, machine control systems provide rather limited analysis options,”  managing director, Patrick Freiherr von Twinkle reports.

With new, medium-term projects with six or seven-digit annual output rates, neo-plastic operates with cavity pressure technology right from the start. This applies to the production of a small technical PA46 breaker plate with a shot weight of only 3.5 grams. The brand new 8-cavity mould, made by the company’s in-house mould engineering department, is equipped with eight direct 1 mm pressure sensors. Again, the CoMo Injection process monitoring system will control the process by means of cavity pressure-dependent switchover and guarantees the quality of the moulded parts by monitoring the pressure curves. “Without sensors, this project would generate massive problems due to underfed parts. Automatic switchover makes the process significantly more stable.”

Faster setup changes and restarts
How long does it take before the investment in a cavity pressure monitoring system pays off? Von Twickel: “This is hard to pin down. There are many positive influences. Just think of the cost of complaints and the subsequent sorting effort. With the new system, we have removed that risk completely. Cavity pressure dependent switchover also facilitates and speeds up any setup changes: after ten shots with the new mould, the quality is perfect again. During the active production process, lot variations or changes of flow are registered immediately and can be remedied directly. Assuming an out-put rate of 200,000 parts per year, I would expect the system to have paid off after 18 months.”

At neo-plastic, the CoMo Injection monitoring system is not operated in fixed connection with one single machine, but, like the moulds, is flexibly used on several machines of similar size. Everywhere the system is applied, the process achieves stable conditions, no matter whether the machines are electric or hydraulic, and independent of their age.

After several years of experience, von Twickel is able to sum up the benefits of cavity pressure measuring and the integration of Kistler sensors and systems: “I can look into the cavity. That constitutes an unbeatable advantage. I have not encountered any other method that would deliver similar information”, he sums up. “Today, we are working in the mould, not in the machine.”