Operational efficiencies in the form of reduced downtime, increased production capability and lower costs are just some of the key benefits being enjoyed by paper and paper product manufacturer Romiley Board Mill following a recent automation upgrade project on a critical production line.
Siemens Industry and Wakefield-based machine builder, Spiraltech Ltd have combined to address concerns around inefficient performance, ongoing maintenance issues and product quality on an existing spiral tube winder and knife unit, used as part of the production process at Stockport's Romiley Board Mill.
The existing production line facility had experienced problems in its operating environment, was slow to cut and lacked the power to manufacture heavier walled products. Though modifications had been made to the machine over a period of time, it was nonetheless causing issues that were affecting production performance and placing an increasing burden on the company's maintenance team. The management at Romiley agreed new investment was required to ensure the company maintained its prominent competitive position in the industry and called in specialist machine builders, Spiraltech Ltd to assist.
Steven Belwood, managing director of Spiraltech comments: "Spiraltech employees have a proven track record and long background in the converting industry. Our dynamic new team brings together experience with fresh ideas to design a range of powerful new machines. We chose Siemens as our primary technology partner as it offers high performance with excellent reliability and support, which are two key elements for today's competitive market place."
The automation option identified by Spiraltech, working with Siemens, has involved the complete design of a new generation of machines and the associated creation of state-of-the-art technology. A combination of Siemens HMI, S7-1200 Ethernet switches linked via Profinet to DC S120 Servo drives and Simotion D425-2 Motion Control now provides a highly effective and efficient production capability through a new STW320 Spiral tube winder and an Edge 320 In-Line Servo knife cutter.
Andrew Nel, sales director at Spiraltech Ltd, says the new machine design is now delivering real benefit for his end customer in terms of product quality assurance and efficiencies, cost savings and better use of internal staffing resources. He says: "As a result of the new machine design, production has increased fourfold which enables Romiley to meet market demands for its paper products and the desired product quality standards to be completely satisfied. Product repeatability and quick setup and changeover times are also key factors for the company, and improvements to these too have now been enhanced by the new machine technology in place."
He continues: "In addition, with the removal of any machine downtime during the busy production periods due to its reliability, the maintenance team can be redeployed to tackle other areas of the production process requiring attention. One other key benefit is the significant reduction in material waste during the setup of new jobs on the machine - cost savings also reflected in the tooling for the machine that now lasts up to three times longer and is also less expensive to procure initially."
Important considerations around the safety and operation area have also been satisfied. Issues such as guarding and placement of safety wiring have been carefully thought through with, for example, the tunnel guarding to the knife unit adjusting automatically for the programmed diameter, thereby keeping the moving parts out of reach from personnel without the need for them to think about making the adjustments manually. Guaranteed speeds on the machine have been delivered so that production planning can be undertaken far more accurately, while impressive product tolerances are maintained to within plus or minus 0.1mm, meeting the high quality threshold Romiley demands.
Finally, ease of operator use has also had a significant impact on the day-to-day running of the production line. With automatic adjustments made when setting the programmed diameter during product changeovers via saved data on the HMI - information which can be speedily retrieved by the operator - production operators can set up and change to new production requirements without any undue delay.
The Sales & Operations Manager at Romiley Board Mill is very happy with the improved efficiencies the new machine design and its automation technology have delivered. He comments: "We are delighted with the Edge 320 machine. The design and build quality from Spiraltech is truly excellent whilst the performance in the production environment is very encouraging. The line is now extremely versatile within its range allowing us to meet the standards and demands set by our customers."
To learn more about the possibilities of automation upgrades, please go to www.industry.siemens.co.uk.