30 Route 18 | Suite 1 | Old Bridge NJ 08857 | Tel: 732.679.2200
INSIGHTS IN AUTOMATION
Packaging Line Accuracy for
Custom “Made To Order” Products
We recently worked with a producer of extrusion blow-molded plastic bottles. Their bottles are produced and packed to order. In fulfilling their orders they use different sized cartons. Sometimes boxes were mislabeled and sent to the wrong customer. The producer wanted to improve reliability to ensure that this did not happen.
The bottle producer contracted with Connell Industries to redesign the layout of their system. It already included case erectors, case packers and a case palletizer. The system was expanded by adding:
• Dedicated packing lines for each style carton and
• An increased number of data collection points
Connell Industries asked Primary Systems to provide the control systems for the new conveyors.
The process flow is controlled by Siemens S7 300 series PLCs. The networked Siemens PLCs share data with each other. Primary Systems provided program modifications for the new conveyor system.
One of our Control System Engineers developed a box tracking array. The new software tracks the boxes in transit on the conveyors. This ensures that the correct box ends up on the correct line.
Previously the producer used their final shipping label as the project identifier. It was applied at the first station, the case erector station.
The new system prints a temporary bar code on each carton as it leaves the case erector station. Many new scanning points along the conveyors collect data from the carton bar code.
Now, digital tracking provides each carton’s location at any point while in transit. It ensures that there is no compacting (queuing up) of cases on any line. The correct size box ends up at its correct case packer station.
Operational faults can occur, from human interference or other cause. When this happens, a log entry is made on the customer’s corporate SCADA system. Plant supervisors can remotely monitor these operational faults and take corrective actions.
In the final steps, a “ship to” label is applied to each case. It covers the temporary bar code used during the pack/fill/palletizing processing.
The client now has a more reliable and transparent end-of-line packaging system. The risk of sending the wrong box to the wrong customer has been eliminated. Successful improvements were the result of the:
• Addition of temporary bar coding as soon as a carton is erected
• Addition of many new sensors and scanners, logging the carton’s location data
• Programming modifications made to an existing and networked Siemens system
• Addition of redundant checks to the routing of cartons
Ever have a problem getting the correct box to the correct customer?
Give us a call at 732-679-2200 to discuss how we can help you with
Control and Automation Solutions.