Advanced Automated Controls

Turn-key Automation Solutions in "3D"

Conceptual Design • Project Management • Automation • Controls
Electrical Construction • Mechanical Fabrication

Industry: Plastics Thermoforming
Project: Data Acquisition System

Overview: The Data Acquisition and Control system utilizes Allen Bradley Process Logic Controllers to interface with and program control of all production equipment. The Process Logic Controllers are networked to a systems computer that uses Rockwell software to link the production information with Oracle systems using the existing customer plant network. The production area is now essentially linked to the customer Oracle system providing an entire systems view of the business process.  


Data Collection and Analysis: All production data can be viewed on a website available to all with appropriate security logins. This allows instant access to the data from any computer. This enables all employees to view their process and identify continuous improvement projects. All improvement projects now have an accurate measurement of improvement.
Examples of available date:

  1. Shift data including cycles, cycle time, total downtime, yield ET.
  2. Downtime cause data
  3. Reject cause data
  4. Order setup time (Down to operator level)

 Control: Since the system is able to read information from Oracle we can now scan the information for each individual order to control the pressing of the order. The system will take the order information from Oracle and adjust the pressing amount based on the yield of the machine running the order, the amount of over pressed units desired and automatically shut down the press upon order completion. This feature removes operator variation in the Molding process resulting in a reduction in over pressed units and remold occurrences.

Potential Capabilities: The system has the capability to automate many of the customer’s manual systems and to use automation to eliminate manual errors. This will lead to labor and material cost reductions. Some examples:

  1. Automatic scheduling – Data could be fed live from the shop floor to an automated scheduling system. The schedule could then be optimized based on real time equipment performance. The system currently has the ability to allow you to view what is running in every press, how many units are made, how many units remain and the time remaining to mold the order. The control system could be expanded to the Printing and Finishing areas allowing you to see order status throughout the entire process. This would then automatically calculate WIP levels and could feed this data back to the automatic scheduling system to adjust order routing based on order priorities, constraints and equipment utilization.
  2. Additional data analysis and information – Ability to analyze information based on order size, number of colors etc. Ability to determine the cost of individual orders.

Club/Third Party Plant Results:

  1. Greater than 75% reduction in over pressed units. The plant baseline was .6% over press for N-ticketed units produced. The plant is currently running at a .14% over press since control system implementation. 
  2. A steady improvement in order setup time at mold. The plant began to publish the average order setup time by operator in June to focus on reducing this time. The plant also has a monthly “Road Runner Award” for the operator with the lowest average setup time during the month. The award is published in the plant newsletter. Since the establishment of these initiatives the average setup time has steadily declined from 5.57 minutes to 4.62 minutes. The average setup times for several days proceeding these initiatives had exceeded nine minutes on occasion.
  3. The true plant yield has improved .9% from a baseline of 93.5% to 94.4%. The true yield is currently calculated by obtaining number of discs by job N-ticketed and comparing to the total press cycles completed on each job captured in DACS.
  4. Plant N-ticketed units has increased approximately 2% from a baseline of 418,190 disc per day to 425,891 discs per day based on actual days worked. This is a result of the above improvements and the increased operator awareness through real time data and established goals.

System Documentation: A web site is available that explains the detailed operation of the system and all of the functions that currently exist. The site also contains network layout, reject codes, program operation and plant layouts.