Automated materials handling
The materials handling equipment has the challenging task of handling the two incoming streams – the dry and wet product, packaged in different mediums – simultaneously. The finishing compounds area is divided into three sections; the dry mix section: end user is required to mix the product which is packed in a variety of different sized bags from 5kg to 20kg; the wet mix station: ready to use products are packed in pails of varying sizes from two litres up to 15 litres and also a 14 litre box; the third section merges both the wet and dry mix on the robot palletising system. Safety is therefore a key priority for the system operators.
While reviewing these materials handling zones, Winstone Wallboards had conducted a risk assessment which identified areas of the plant that required updating to meet new standards.
“The initial scope of the project was to replace an aging palletising robot that was no longer meeting capacity,” explained Shaun Sanders, Manufacturing Safety Engineer at Winstone Wallboards. “We decided to upgrade the safety in the joints and finishing area to comply with the standards for palletising cells and implement a new safety system – from control through to devices – in that area,” he said.
Smart safety solution
The functional safety specification helped identify the products and solutions that would best meet Winstone Wallboard’s safety requirements. “We decided to use the full spectrum of Rockwell Automation products to deliver a completely integrated and connected safety system,” said Sanders.
Integrated control and safety for the materials handling equipment was delivered by the Allen-Bradley® GuardLogix® programmable automation controller (PAC). The control system was programmed using Studio 5000® Logix Designer software over Ethernet/IP – for seamless integration and providing time-savings in design, engineering and project development with simplified validation and verification through minimized hardwiring tests.