Automation IIoT

Extruder Transitions To Real-Time Machine Data

Grant Gerke | October 17, 2017

Transition is being felt in large and small ways for most manufacturers, with the level of challenges varying substantially for different industries. Some companies are pushing for better operational and maintenance procedures on the floor, while most manufacturers are moving toward better data visibility within the plant and enterprise.

The days of manufacturing silos are fast disappearing due to the promise of and relatively inexpensive investment in open industrial network standards to move data just about anywhere in the enterprise.

A new case study from Wisconsin-based Teel Plastics Inc. (Teel), a manufacturer of extruded plastic tubing and profiles, reveals a new initiative to implement an IIoT gateway solution that allows the company to use existing plant hardware while providing a new operations and maintenance roadmap.

The Baraboo, WI, plant has 10 manufacturing lines that produce multiple products at various times throughout the day. Each line requires a custom recipe for every product, i.e., material inputs, equipment, heating components, and other variables. Recipes can change several times in one day, and some that haven’t been used in months can resurface when new orders are received.

The other challenge involves the multiple types of programmable logic controllers (PLCs)—from multiple vendors—controlling different product lines. Teel turned to the OPC UA based-KEPServerEX product to communicate recipes to different linesand lessen operator complexity.

“We’ve been able to take something that previously required memorization, 30 to 40 clicks, and bring it down to a single click of a button for the operator,” explained Owen Gwynne, senior programmer, Teel Plastics. The server solution receives data from disparate plant devices and leverages OPC UA technology protocol—an industrial networking standard—to produce a single-source for industrial data.

Besides operational efficiencies, Teel is now able to access more machine run data and analyze mobile web-based devices, including parameters such as motor load, speed and process temperature, from mobile devices.

“The in-depth plant floor data enables engineers to test different variables, which has led to decreased downtime,” Gwynne noted. “The setup now provides us the ability for our extruders to contact operators via email based on run-time for preventive maintenance.”

In addition to a more responsive preventive-maintenance process, Teel is working on connecting machines directly into its Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) for more condition monitoring. The current hybrid approach is a good fit with the company’s total-preventive-maintenance (TPM) routines, where operators play a critical role in scheduling machine maintenance.

As Gwynne pointed out, “We have connected our equipment database to the line setup and will be able to pull more accurate records of wear on specific items shortly.” EP




Grant Gerke

Grant Gerke

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