Innovation has been a primary business driver for the industrial equipment group of Premier Tech Chronos since its founding in 1989. Headquartered in Quebec, Canada, the company delivers bag packaging equipment and complete end-of-line packaging solutions. The company's broad product portfolio meets both rigid and industrial flexible packaging requirements for diverse applications worldwide. Recently, the company called on Rockwell Automation to help improve the maintainability of its SPLX Compact palletizer. Premier Tech Chronos standardized on Rockwell Automation control and information solutions in 2001 and collaborates with the company on machine system designs. “Our SPLX Compact palletizer leverages the functionality of our popular SPLX models in an even smaller footprint,” explained Chakim Belrhali, marketing manager, Premier Tech Chronos. “It's an ideal solution for applications that require high throughput rates with minimal floor space.” While the SPLX MKII is both cost- and space-effective, the compact model saves approximately 30 percent in length and 20 percent in width. The completely automatic machine palletizes up to 50 cases per minute, depending on size and stacking patterns.
The compact model's control system is based on the Allen-Bradley® CompactLogix® controller, Allen-Bradley PowerFlex® 525 AC drives, and PanelView™ Plus 6 graphic terminals. For machine safety, the system incorporates Allen-Bradley safety light curtains and Allen-Bradley Guardmaster® safety relays. The information-enabled palletizer is integrated on an EtherNet/IP™ network.
“Over the years, we've relied on the scalability of the Rockwell Automation platform to optimize the
performance of all of our machines – large and small,” Belrhali explained. “Now we turned to the company to help us improve our ability to monitor our equipment in the field.” While Premier Tech Chronos prides itself on its customer support, much of their aftermarket services were reactive in nature. “Typically, a customer would alert us to a performance issue, and we could access their equipment online and
troubleshoot the problem,” said Louis Brochu, engineering aftersales manager, Premier Tech Chronos. “But we wanted to provide a service that would be more proactive – and better maintain the health of their system.” Working with Rockwell Automation, Premier Tech Chronos developed a cloud-enabled remote monitoring solution that could be applied not only to the SPLX Compact palletizer, but to all the company's equipment.
Leveraging the Rockwell Automation cloud-based software platform, the wireless solution allows Premier Tech Chronos to share vital diagnostic information with customers to enable predictive and preventative maintenance activities. It also provides Premier Tech Chronos customers with mobile access to machine status. “Through the cloud-enabled solution, we can continuously monitor a wide range of performance parameters regarding machine components and overall cycle times,” Brochu said. “Based on the results, we can determine the optimal time for maintenance – and also improve overall equipment eff ectiveness (OEE).” The most important outcome of a cloud-based solution is making relevant data quickly and easily accessible to the people who need it. In addition to triggering proactive maintenance activities, the system can also provide users with required part numbers – and even fulfill a part order and schedule the required maintenance.
The solution is engineered to modular cloud information integration (MCCI) standards and powered by Microsoft® Azure™ cloud services, which stores and processes the collected data. Microsoft is a Rockwell Automation strategic alliance partner. Exceptionally flexible and scalable, the MCCI system can be configured to an end user's security standards – and data collection preferences and priorities.
For Premier Tech Chronos, the cloud-based system means they can provide their customers with an optimal level of aftermarket service. “Now, our customers will be able to monitor equipment parameters both on the plant floor and through mobile technology,” Brochu explained. “And we will be able to offer equipment monitoring services designed to better maintain the health of their machines – and improve