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Packaging 4.0 - Belgian company modernizes its packing process with Siemens automation
Wijnegem, Belgium. The Belgian firm Rockfon manufactures fire-proof, acoustic system ceiling tiles and panels. Until now, the metal ceiling profiles were manually packed. This highly manual approach meant the packing process was extremely demanding for employees. Because of legislation around lifting and hoisting movements rockfon needed a smaller packaging solution. Therefore Rockfon decided to modernize the whole process and to install Siemens automation technology. This use of automation in the packing process also allowed Rockfon to reduce costs in this area and to make the process more ergonomic for the employees, and therefore less physically demanding.
Rockfon’s own analysis showed that it was time to modernize the packing process from the bottom up. The objective was to reduce the size of the plant, to scale down the manual component, primarily for ergonomic reasons, and to make the process more efficient and more manageable. The solution was obvious: The process had to be completely automated, from end to end. One of the most significant challenges in this respect was the complexity of the tasks which were easy to do by hand but often not so easy to achieve mechanically in a machine-led process. Furthermore, Rockfon wanted one supplier whose portfolio already contained a complete technology package for the whole project and whose solution could accommodate integration of the existing infrastructure. The system integrator ACE Ingenieurs- & Adviesbureau chose Siemens, not least because Rockfon is already familiar with Siemens technology.
It was clear to ACE right from the start that the project was to be engineered in the TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal. The PLC of choice was the Simatic S7-1500 together with ET 200SP and ET 200AL distributed I/Os. A single Simatic is used as a higher-level control to control all the other components, such as motors and sensors. Production reliability is ensured by the ET 200SP 1512-F safety PLC using profisafe protocol to integrate the Sinamics S120 drives. Newly installed comfort panels provide a clear display of the production line as a whole. Rockfon chose S120 booksize motor modules with Simotics servo motors . A Sinema Remote Connect unit, which runs on a Siemens 3G router, provides easy-to-use and secure remote access.
More efficient, more straightforward and more reliable
The new packing machines run continuously through all three shifts and reduce the overall manufacturing costs considerably. They also make life easier for personnel deployed on the packing station. The automation reduces the number of false alarms and the associated downtime which also increases productivity.
The prototype machine soon outgrew its teething problems. ACE recently bought the virtual commissioning software from Siemens called NX Mechatronics Concept Designer and the PLCSIM Advanced”. ACE will use this software for the next 2 production lines to predict the behaviour of the profiles at critical points along the packaging line.”
Based in Wijnegem, Belgium, Rockfon manufactures fireproof, acoustic system ceiling tiles and panels. The ceiling profiles roll off the conveyor belts in Wijnegem.
Previously, the metal ceiling profiles were packed in a manual and extremely demanding process; this has now been modernized using Siemens automation technology.
A Simatic S7-1500 together with ET 200SP and ET 200AL distributed I/Os provides the control, and engineering is carried out in the TIA (Totally Integrated Automation) Portal.
End-to-end automation not only simplifies employees’ work considerably but also reduces the number of false alarms and the associated downtime.