The latest smart automation, control and safety technologies can help improve productivity and safety for building and construction material manufacturers
Building and construction materials form the foundation for our homes, schools, hospitals, roads and shopping centres. A recent report has estimated that the volume of construction output will grow by 85 percent to $15.5 trillion worldwide by 2030, with three countries, China, US and India , leading the way and accounting for 57 percent of all global growth.
As construction projects increase so too will the requirement for high quality building and construction materials. Boral is a leading provider of construction materials and building products including cement, aggregates, concrete, asphalt, bricks, roofing, masonry products and timber.
Boral works to maintain an engaged and reliable workforce and minimise environmental impact. In keeping with this mission, Boral recently invested in an industry leading motor control solution for their Charlton quarry which is located in Victoria, Australia. The key focus of the project was to improve uptime and leverage the longevity and compliance provided by the latest motor control technology.
Smart Motor Control Technology
Motor control technology has come a long way as a result of the advances in IIoT technologies. Connecting motor control devices over Ethernet allows operators and maintenance to realise the benefits of The Connected Enterprise by monitoring and analysing operations from anywhere at any time.
Boral engaged SS Electrics, a progressive electrical contracting business based in Ballarat, Victoria, to implement a solution to modernise the electric equipment at the quarry.
“We have worked with Boral on projects at their other quarries previously and therefore understood the importance of minimising downtime onsite during commissioning. The Rockwell Automation MCC was the most appropriate choice for this application because it is a fully designed and integrated system that is essentially 75 percent commissioned upon arrival. This really helped reduce engineering time and helped meet the tight commissioning timeline for this project,” explained Chris Nunn, Director, SS Electrics.
The Allen-Bradley CENTERLINE 2500 Motor Control Center (MCC) offers optimal safety, performance and reliability to help meet Boral’s production requirements. It was important for the new motor control system to be able to integrate with existing systems and provide advanced diagnostics capabilities. The CENTERLINE 2500 meets these requirements with premier integration and reduced engineering time.
SS Electrics worked with Rockwell Automation and their distributor NHP Electrical Engineering Products to select the smart components which are at the heart of the 12 column MCC including the E300 Electronic Overloads, SMC Flex soft starters, POINT I/O modules, Guardmaster safety relays, Stratix switches, ControlLogix control system and PowerFlex 525 variable speed drives for the crushers, conveyors and processing equipment.
The MCC also features IntelliCENTER technology, which enhances the intelligence of the MCC by using built-in networking to capture information that can be used for predictive maintenance, process monitoring, and advanced diagnostics.
Boral’s Charlton quarry is now benefitting from the new smart motor control solution which provides key diagnostic information that optimises performance with real time access to operation and performance trends. As the quarry moves towards a more Connected Enterprise, this increased visibility into the system and real time diagnostic data can be transformed into actionable and insightful information.
Safety First at Winstone Wallboards
Safety is a key priority for building and construction material manufacturers. As such, Winstone Wallboards, New Zealand’s only manufacturer and marketer of gypsum plasterboard, drywall systems, and associated products and services recently implemented an industry leading solution to meet their palletising requirements and assist with growing the company’s production capacity.
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.
Given the safety hazards associated with the materials handling equipment at the plant, it was important to provide appropriate guarding between the hazard and operators so the machine could be accessed in safe mode if required. Guardshield® POC Safety Light Curtains provided zone separation for the mill, and the latest Guardmaster® 442G Multifunctional Access Box (MAB) provided an ideal solution for this application. The 442G MAB gate access lock has Ethernet/IP connectivity, avoiding the requirement for hardwiring the system.
“The installation and commissioning time was reduced significantly using the MAB. We had approximately 14 days during a planned shutdown to remove the existing system and have the safety upgrade installed and commissioned. Using an integrated safety solution enabled us to achieve this, otherwise we would have struggled to complete it on time. In addition, we integrated the system with other processes onsite and everything was done easily through digital communications,” said Shaun Sanders, Manufacturing Safety Engineer at Winstone Wallboards.
As a result of the solution, downtime due to safety system failure has been reduced. With the old safety system, fault events could take several hours to diagnose; now, with the new Guardlogix based smart safety system, diagnostic information on the state of the safety system is immediately available to the operator and maintenance teams. This facilitates rapid repair and production resumption, resulting in an OEE improvement of 0.3 percent. This means that the safety system provides increased equipment availability to produce for an additional 24 hour period during the year.
Furthermore, the system provides the tools for Winstone Wallboards to drive compliance, while ease of use provides the operator with safe operating procedures whilst enhancing productivity. By incorporating safety information into Environmental Health and Safety management systems, day to day discrepancies between policies and operating procedures can be identified – improving insight into worker behaviour and compliance.
Previously, to gain more diagnostic data, traditional safety devices required more complex wiring solutions. Using a smart safety solution enables greater access to diagnostic data and simplifies your wiring system. An integrated smart safety solution provides the information needed to create a comprehensive picture of the status of the machine or production line.
In addition, enhanced visibility into safety-system performance and stoppages can help determine the root cause of shutdowns. Safety and production data also can be combined to understand the frequency, duration, time and location of safety-related shutdowns.
“This project is the first step towards building the communications infrastructure for the entire plant. Having a platform like GuardLogix lays the foundation for where the future of the plant will lie with integrated safety. The success of this project has given Winstone Wallboards the confidence to use newer technologies and invest in further upgrades at the plant,” said Adam Kane, Technology Specialist – Safety & HAE, NHP.