Develop an innovative solution to optimize an existing chocolate production machine.
In order to configure and produce different chocolate recipes, a chocolate producing company used an old pneumatic cam-driven machine, which resulted in a high and not optimal setup time, thereby reducing the speed of production.
Rotalec was therefore mandated to create an IIoT solution aimed at designing a centralized and automated system, optimizing the setup time of the existing machine.
Challenges and Issues
- Centralize sources of control | Over time, the company added local controls to the machine, which controlled the various additions but did not work seamlessly together. Operators must continually walk from station to station, all around the machine, to operate it while having limited overall control over the process. The machine lacks a centralized control system, both in terms of physical location and HMI program.
- Automate the setting of each recipe | The setup time for each different recipe is time-consuming and tedious, requiring maintenance personnel to enter the system and manually adjust valves and timers.
The optimal solution is the design of a centralized communication system allowing the automation of the various components of the machine, regardless of the chocolate recipe to be produced.
More specifically, the existing chocolate machine has been retrofitted with new technological solutions.
- Centralized control system | At IIoT level, with the implementation of a new TrioMotion controller, MC405 model, all controls and communication have been centralized in one location, due to a single Red Lion G310 HMI program with a 10-inch color touch screen. The operator can now select a recipe from the main controls and the machine automatically adjusts itself for this recipe.
- Automatic adjustments | In terms of motion control, new Emerson servo-actuators and servo-drives replace the existing actuators. This technology allows to automatically adjust the levels required to produce the desired recipe, no longer requiring the intervention of an operator to set valves and timers.
- Precise timing | In terms of automation, the new TrioMotion controller allows precise timing in the synchronization of valves to create specific chocolate recipes. For example, it can synchronize the valves to begin pouring the chocolate into the mold, introduce caramel at the right time, close the caramel valve, then close the chocolate valve shortly thereafter.
The company now benefits from an ideal solution in order to count on optimal setup time, as well as a centralized control system to produce various chocolate recipes.
The proven solution was greatly appreciated by the company, which simplified the chocolate production process, on top of controlling all aspects from a central location, automatically selecting the right recipes and to monitor the whole process. The optimized machine meets the requirements well since it is better automated and communicates effectively to all the other components which are now fully connected to it.
Key benefits of this customized engineered solution
- Time savings and increased efficiency with automatic settings and minimal setup time for recipes.
- Additional reliability and reduction of human errors in the machine configuration for recipes.
- Operators gained significantly more control over the machine, as everything was adjustable through one HMI.
- Better control and enhanced ease of use for operators assigned to the machine since everything is adjustable by an HMI with centralized control.
- Obtaining a very precise controlled timing.