- United Converting was commissioned to build a tissue converting machine that not only addressed its own design philosophy, but also catered for the needs of its US customer and the US market
- A Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture Solution
- Allen-Bradley ControlLogix Programmable Automation Controller (PAC)
- Allen-Bradley GuardLogix Controller for Safety Infrastructure
- Allen-Bradley Kinetix 6500 Servo Drives and Allen-Bradley PowerFlex Variable-Speed Drives
- Significant Engineering Support from Rockwell Automation in Italy
- Automation solution that addresses the company’s simplification and ease of use philosophy
- US market ready solution
- Connected Enterprise capability
- Enhanced changeover process – faster by a factor of four
- Greater export potential – “Rockwell Automation opens doors”
New machine delivers performance improvements and data capabilities that move it and the company into the Connected Enterprise
Founded in 2004 with the aim of developing and manufacturing equipment for the tissue converting industry, United Converting Srl now satisfies the needs of a globalised market with respect to the growing demand for machinery and services capable of meeting modern production requirements.
The company supplies a complete service, from the design and development of new machinery, to the upgrade and optimisation of existing lines, through paper manufacture and processing, ultimately increasing the final value of the products. Despite still being a young company, it has successfully built and installed a number of converting lines deploying the latest technologies. The company has also developed new converting systems that are patented worldwide.
Thanks to the extensive experience of its technicians, it is able to supply an extremely customised engineering service, using the latest technologies available on the market and is able to respond to unique requests for product customisation to enable tissue converters to achieve exact and innovative product specifications.
In a recent project, a leading US customer needed a new converting line for it production facility. For this application United Converting chose Rockwell Automation as the primary automation supplier in order to develop a machine that would leverage the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture® in addition to exploiting the market-leading position that Rockwell Automation enjoys in the United States.
United Converting required a solution that not only addressed its own design requirements – ease-of-use and simplicity – but would also adapt to different machine formats and sizes. It also needed a solution that would provide pertinent and timely manufacturing data, not only for machine and process parameter optimisation, but also for sharing with a wider connected enterprise.
For this customer and for future export potential, it also needed an automation supplier well placed in the US market and with in-depth knowledge of both the machine, its operating principles and the unique demands of the tissue industry.
The line, based on the United Converting Nexus C line, can be used for kitchen roll or toilet paper and comprises multiple individual modules, which are then interconnected to act as one production solution.
At the heart of the machine is an Integrated Architecture solution from Rockwell Automation running over an EtherNet/IP™ network. The primary automation control components comprise an Allen-Bradley® ControlLogix® programmable automation controller (PAC), which works in tandem with an Allen-Bradley GuardLogix® controller for the safety infrastructure. The main motion and rotational axes are controlled by both servo and AC motor solutions driven by Allen-Bradley Kinetix® 6500 servo drives and Allen-Bradley PowerFlex® variable-speed drives. Completing the control solution is a variety of Allen-Bradley POINT I/O™ modules and an Allen-Bradley PanelView™ Plus 6 HMI, which delivers the means for operator interaction.
The first module has three unwinders, which take large paper reels, unwind them and layer them before feeding them into a lamination unit. The three-ply paper structure is then embossed and glued together before a rewinder takes paper off the line and onto a final out roll. This roll is then transferred to a sealing unit where a line of glue is applied to seal the last part of the roll. The three metre long roll then reaches an accumulator, after which a saw is used to cut it into small rolls, which are then sent to a packing line. Next to the primary converting line there is also a machine that makes the cardboard cores for the centre of the rolls.
By using EtherNet/IP as the primary communication protocol, United Converting has given itself the opportunity to more easily offer its customers remote monitoring and maintenance, while also having the option to connect the machine into its customers Connected Enterprise. The Connected Enterprise, an approach manufacturers are adopting to leverage the use of connected machines, supply chains and customers, allows them to establish manufacturing processes that are data/information rich, supported, secure and future ready for market demands.
Ultimately, a Connected Enterprise approach for manufacturers and their suppliers will create a more competitive, innovative enterprise that can deliver insights to improve productivity, sustainability and economic performance through faster time to market, lower total cost of ownership, improved asset utilisation and enterprise risk management. Other benefits of access to real-time, contextualised information include minimised downtime, improved technology and process optimisation, greater workforce efficiency and smarter expenditure. Because EtherNet/IP is based on standard, unmodified Ethernet, it means that there is very little that needs to be done for these connections to be established; and full security solutions are also available for user
control and to prevent unwarranted access.
According to Gianluca Giometti, Vice President at United Converting: “We always look to try and simplify our systems in terms of hardware and software and by using EtherNet/IP and Rockwell Automation hardware and
software we were able to achieve this regarding the initial programming and the subsequent user interactions. We also benefit from the solution’s scalability, so we can adapt it for other machines with far less engineering effort.
Data exchange was also simplified, as was the ability to share the software development between multiple users simultaneously. EtherNet/IP also delivers a single-network solution for data, motion, safety and I/O and plays a prime role in our big focus on the Connected Enterprise, giving our customers the ability to expand the communication possibilities both within their own factory and for any remote support we can provide from either Italy or from our recently establish US office.
“The machine is now at the customer site and is performing as expected,” he concludes. “From my point of view, the customer service we achieved from Rockwell Automation in Italy was extremely good especially with regards to the engineering team, who, in addition to providing better service than we get from other suppliers, also had a lot of knowledge about our processes.
Finally, thanks to a special I/O card that we developed for the ControlLogix PAC, we were able to significantly enhance one of our patented roll-changeover steps, speeding it up by a factor of four due to the greater precision on offer!”