Learn how the tissue industry equipment maker created an open and scalable software platform that easily integrates with hardware to monitor overall equipment effectiveness.
Pulsar Srl, founded in 1989, is based in Castelmaggiore, near Bologna, the heart of Europe's “packaging valley.” The company engineers, produces and creates conveying and transportation solutions. It also produces specialized automatic machinery for use in the tissue sector, including feeding, packaging and sorting machines for rolls and packages of toilet paper and paper towels; equipment for processing and packaging folded paper products; and product movement units. Pulsar has built more than 230 systems and 18 complete plants for major tissue manufacturers.
The company's engineers also work to improve production line management by creating hardware and software combinations that manage, optimize and integrate entire lines of machinery..
For instance, the company's Layout Simulator software can design new systems by comparing process machinery on the market and then simulating its productive capacity. Users can see various options aimed at specific production needs in real time and then evaluate the true value of their investment.
Recently, Pulsar developed the Reds Platinum System, a platform for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems designed to measure overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) in the tissue converting industry. The system uses various elements of the FactoryTalk® software suite from Rockwell Automation.
According to Angelo Bertini, general manager at Pulsar, “The measurement of production line efficiencies in the manufacture of consumer goods is a major factor towards increasing competitiveness. The tissue industry does not escape this logic; so the provision of a platform dedicated to the converting industries will give users a facilitated approach to measuring these all-important OEE figures.”
These measured variables, upon which the efficiency figures are calculated, include basic machine availability, product quality compared to overall production volumes, and machine downtimes and transition times — either between production runs or between events, such as unplanned downtime and stoppages.
“The primary issue faced by the tissue industry is the niche nature of its operations — with limited manufacturers and limited machine and service suppliers,” says Bertini. “If companies in this industry want to implement efficiency platforms, they have to ask for the services of industry experts and then apply standard platforms to gradually develop the structure of the data collection and analysis required. These experts then, in turn, have to be told by the manufacturer which parameters are to be monitored, where they are generated and how to record them.”
He continues, “The process of creating such a platform requires a series of cross‐functional skills which are rarely in place within the software houses that normally develop these types of platforms, especially the bespoke skills and knowledge relating to the unique facets of the tissue industry. In addition to IT and data analysis skills, the developers also require knowledge about process, automation and IT infrastructures.
“Besides the identification of the data to be monitored, one also has to identify the availability of this data along the line, the methods of extraction and the subsequent communication to the analytics platform.”
Integrated Hardware and Software
Combining its knowledge of the tissue production process, including automation and the different machines and equipment currently used, Pulsar has developed the Reds Platinum System, a dedicated OEE measurement platform for monitoring tissue converting lines, leaving the integrator only simple adaptations for specific applications.
To calculate the OEE of the lines, the system takes into account the process steps to be controlled, the machines involved and the parameters that must be collected and monitored.
“We appreciate the worldwide presence of the company and the support possibilities no matter where we are. Of particular importance is the fact that all of the FactoryTalk software platforms we are using have been specially developed for each of their individual purposes: FactoryTalk View for HMI development, FactoryTalk Metrics for OEE measurement, FactoryTalk VantagePoint for information delivery and reporting and FactoryTalk Transaction Manager for transaction integration and management,” Bertini notes.
Pulsar also sees the benefits of tightly integrated hardware and software.
“We have seen much easier integration of the supervision platform with the automation components from Rockwell Automation, with no need for conversion cards or translation software,” he explains.
Smart Machine Strategy
By developing and deploying a system based on the FactoryTalk suite from Rockwell Automation, Pulsar has created a platform for business improvement.
The use of FactoryTalk software and its tight integration with Allen‐-Bradley® control products means the solution is easier to install and can start delivering data quickly after deployment. The system is capable of integrating hardware from other vendors, but this requires additional hardware and software for communication, which ultimately increases complexity and costs.
“Within this development,” Bertini adds, “we have defined a strategy in the area of smart machines and tools and we have already seen dramatic developments occurring within the realms of the IIoT [Industrial Internet of Things]. We strongly believe in this evolution, which is why we have developed this system. With the help of Rockwell Automation and its commitment to The Connected Enterprise, we see the collection of data and subsequent interrogation and disbursement of information as the norm rather than a luxury.”
Rockwell Automation OEM Partner Pulsar S.R.L is an Italy-based global provider of engineering and manufacturing solutions for major industries including packaging, tissue, food, pharmaceuticals, and automotive. Machinery includes conveying and handling systems, wrapping machines, and inspection machines.
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