Learn how integrating EtherNet/IP into its redesigned control architecture helps a glass-wool-insulation machinery maker meet rising demand while reducing wiring and maintenance costs.
Given its northerly latitude, it comes as no surprise that Norway is home to Glava AS, one of Europe's biggest producers of glass wool insulation products for the building and construction industry.
But along with the buoyant local market, Glava's insulation products are playing a central role in Europe's strategy to curb CO2 emissions and global climate change, ensuring a rising demand for glass wool products.
Coping with increased demand effectively means ensuring more efficient production methods. Askim Mek Verksted AS (AMV), a subsidiary of Glava AS, is one of only a handful of manufacturers supplying cold-end glass wool production machinery, and manufactures specialist machines designed to package difficult-to-handle glass-wool insulation products.
Company leaders knew that to keep up with demand, it would need to ensure its production machines met all the requirements for accuracy, efficiency and supportability.
A Complex, Multi-tasking Machine
AMV's unique Battpacker system (see photo) completely automates the entire cold-end process of glass-wool production, transforming raw material into a palletized, ready-to-ship product. The packaging process is a complex one, involving numerous operations, all of which have to be carried out with a high degree of precision and repeatability.
AMV has built up considerable expertise in this specialist area, and has seen its Battpacker system gradually evolve as technologies improved. For its latest version, however, AMV took the more radical step of completely re-evaluating Battpacker's control architecture.
Battpacker comprises eight separate stages, each one requiring numerous sensors and valves to maneuver the glass wool through the process. Accuracy and repeatability are vital for efficient operation, minimum wastage and maximum product throughput.
The machine also has to be flexible enough to cope with different types of products and different "recipes" with minimum disruption of production.
Comprehensive system monitoring and diagnostics functions also were vital in ensuring maximum efficiency and uptime.
To achieve these objectives, AMV's engineers looked to replace Battpacker's Profibus architecture with an EtherNet/IP™ solution supplied by local Authorized Allen-Bradley® Distributor Triple-S Industry Automation AS.
EtherNet/IP Opens Up New Possibilities
With a growing number of manufacturers offering EtherNet/IP-compatible products, using EtherNet/IP provides greater choices for AMV's engineers.
In this case, AMV was able to employ the latest Allen-Bradley ControlLogix® programmable automation controllers (PAC) from Rockwell Automation. These, in turn, manage Rockwell Automation Encompass™ Product Partner Festo Corp.'s latest EtherNet/IP plug-in pneumatic valves.
ControlLogix controllers are ideal for use in complex applications such as Battpacker, which requires the fast processing of sequential, motion and process instructions. The ControLogix multi-tasking operating system supports 32 prioritized tasks. Every task can have as many as 100 programs, each with its own local data and logic, allowing virtual machines to operate independently within the same controller.
The ControlLogix PAC provides a scalable solution capable of addressing a large amount of I/O points, making it ideally suited to managing complicated processes.
Allen-Bradley PanelView™ Plus human-machine interfaces (HMI), also connected via EtherNet/IP, provide operators with comprehensive system monitoring from a number of strategic vantage points. Recipe changes can be handled directly from the PanelView Plus, minimizing changeover time and lost production.
The plug-and-play connection of controllers, actuators and I/O devices from a growing number of manufacturers is just a small part of the benefit that EtherNet/IP delivers to machine builders like AMV. EtherNet/IP from Rockwell Automation adheres strictly to the Ethernet standard, allowing users to take advantage of the low cost of Ethernet hardware and cabling.
Meeting All Requirements
The adoption of the standard Ethernet protocol, rather than a modified version of it, delivers maximum flexibility for machine builders to choose the best components for their application. Because everything from controller to actuator shares a common, single connection, the direct costs of wiring are reduced greatly.
The dramatic reduction in wiring bulk delivers significant secondary benefits, such as minimizing the need for cable management and reducing wiring time.
Alongside the tangible cost benefits of a decentralized control architecture, EtherNet/IP allows greatly enhanced functionality. With EtherNet/IP, virtually every aspect of Battpacker can be monitored for effective maintenance and rapid fault diagnosis, from the operation of the Festo pneumatic valves to the operating temperature of the motors.
The engineers also designed the new Battpacker with Allen-Bradley E1-Plus overload relays that continually monitor motor temperature and generate a pre-trip warning alarm in the event of an overload. Full alarm and fault condition information is provided via the PanelView Plus HMIs, allowing a rapid response. All alarms are logged for later analysis.
EtherNet/IP also allows comprehensive remote diagnostics and machine management over the Internet via a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Thanks to EtherNet/IP, Triple-S and AMV were able to create a highly flexible, yet highly efficient decentralized solution that met all the requirements for accuracy, efficiency and supportability.