Case StudiesFood and BeverageHMIPLCProcess Control

Conveyor Speed Sync for an Energy Bar Packaging Facility

By June 16, 2017 August 8th, 2019 No Comments

Project Drive

An energy bar manufacturing facility’s processing line used eight standalone pieces of equipment with conveyor belts and the speed of the conveyors needed to be synced across all of the machines for optimal operation.

The speeds were previously synced by adjusting potentiometers on each piece of equipment leading to unequal speed variations throughout the line.

We worked with the staff to implement a PLC-based system with an operator interface HMI to set the speeds for the line, as well as select which speed should be used at any given time.

Solution

The client’s existing process line consisted of 8 stand-alone machines taking raw ingredients, forming them into bars, enrobing in chocolate, and drying them prior to entering the packaging line.

Each of these machines had a conveyor with a locally configurable potentiometer  to adjust  the given speed for each piece of equipment. Operators were spending a signficant amount of time adjusting the speeds for each piece of equipment when changing products, resulting in issues when the speeds were not exactly the same.

We implemented a system using an Allen Bradley CompactLogix PLC and a Panelview Plus HMI to communicate with Powerflex 4 and 5 VFDs installed on each piece of equipment.

The local control capability for each machine was replaced by a screen on the Panelview Plus. This allowed the operators to set a desired speed from the screen, which communicated with the PLC to calculate the required values for each drive based on its conveyor properties and gear ratios. The operators were also given the capability to configure speeds for various products, giving them a drop-down menu to cut changeover times to essentially zero with respect to adjusting the speed of the line.

Benefits

  • Stand-alone equipment now integrated with a PLC to provide the capability for full-line automation
  • 8 pieces of equipment with local control can now be operated from one operator interface
  • Recipe management capabilities enable operators to configure speeds for various products
  • Increased productivity
  • Decreased production fluctuations
  • Decreased maintenance overhead

Project Details

Industry
Food & Beverage
Location
Carson City, NV
Services
HMI & PLC Programming, Technology Migration

Technology

  • Allen Bradley Powerflex VFDs
  • Allen Bradley CompactLogix PLC
  • Allen Bradley Panelview Plus

Focus

  • Decrease production fluctuations
  • Update equipment to modern standards
  • Incorporate recipe management
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