Few manufacturers have escaped the massive disruption of COVID-19. Despite the impact on operations, supply chains and people, companies involved with producing critical protection and medical treatment devices have had to find ways to respond quickly.
The need for agility and resilience has required manufacturers to think in new ways about how to solve immediate challenge while considering systems that address future opportunities, demand changes and workforce challenges.
In any disruptive environment, learning what works, and what’s possible, creates opportunities for companies to protect operations and support employees during a crisis, and then create a future competitive advantage.
Lanco Integrated, a custom design and build company, is a great example of how flexible, advanced manufacturing, and managing complex supply chains, allows a company to pivot manufacturing and stay ahead of rapidly changing global conditions.
Flexible, Faster Manufacturing
Lanco, a custom design and build company, is accustomed to carefully managing a full pipeline of projects with quick turns. Business disruptions – in this case, a global pandemic – created even tighter timelines.
Lanco’s end user was developing rapid result kits to test for COVID-19. The faster Lanco could create that machine, the faster that machine could be deployed to potentially save lives.
Signing on to the project would require Lanco to hit new productivity levels, push flexible manufacturing boundaries, and test the supply chain in new ways.
Lanco’s agile engineering team relied on Rockwell Automation for the machine’s control standard because:
- Proven performance and speed of PLCs improved production speed and output
- Ability to properly calculate motor size for peak power performance in high force applications to improve efficiency and energy use
- Product durability reduces unplanned downtime
- Use of standard products reduces workforce training requirements
Lanco has programmed machines with Rockwell Automation® software and hardware for more than 30 years – each one a custom creation.
Because of the tight timeframe, project engineers relied on CompactLogix controllers for many reasons – most importantly, it was the only solution that would allow two programmers to collaborate online and work on a single PLC simultaneously.
Additionally, due to long history and success with Rockwell Automation, Lanco developed a library of Add-On instructions, a prepared solution for RFID tag reading and writing, and commanding servo motions – reducing project time by as much as 50%.
Standard Programming Cuts Design Time
Many project elements contributed to time savings that allowed Lanco to deliver a typical 16-week project in less than eight weeks.
Rockwell Automation MP-Series™ servo motors with a linear ball screw press actuator provided the form factor with adequate force for the size, with easy mounting. The package design, ensuring that the ball screw and actuator worked together, saved Lanco significant design time.
To increase simplicity and seamlessly configuration, program and maintain control system devices, Lanco also relied on:
- Studio 5000 Logix Designer® software to manage controllers and design the system with confidence. Software provides a common environment for users programming CompactLogix™ controllers in standard and safety configurations.
- PanelView™ Plus 7 graphic terminals to build the application and help simplify configuration. These terminals included Ethernet connectivity and enable users to monitor applications from remote locations.
- CompactLogix™ 5370 controllers, with higher performance, increased capacity, improved productivity and enhanced security.
- Kinetix® 5500 EtherNet/IP servo drives to minimize machine footprint and simplify system wiring.
- Standard templates worked together to create a consistent experience for programmers and end users, as many of Lanco’s machines have maintained a consistent look and feel for decades.
“Based on past performance we could make assumptions before we had the solution in hand – I knew what the team was delivering would operate as intended,” said Chris Burton, controls program manager, Lanco. “Anything that reduces risk and the learning curve – for our engineers and for our end users – is valuable. This, and the durability and reliability of the solution, gave us the confidence that we could deliver.”
For Lanco, the long-time relationship reduced guesswork and rework.
“Rockwell Automation and Authorized Distributor Horizon managed potential issues to move parts quickly,” added Nate Passmore, mechanical engineer, Lanco. “Everyone in the supply chain did their part to reduce lead times. We were working for the greater good, and we applied that focus to everything we did, every day.”
See what else Rockwell Automation is doing to support our employees, customers and communities in response to COVID-19.
The results mentioned above are specific to Lanco’s use of Rockwell Automation products and services in conjunction with other products. Specific results may vary for other customers.
Allen-Bradley, CompactLogix, Kinetix, MP-Series, PanelView Plus, PowerFlex, Rockwell Automation and Studio 5000 Logix Designer are trademarks of Rockwell Automation, Inc.