Machine retrofit reduces scrappage and improves quality

Machines in food and beverage production must be dependable, safe, fast, and maintain production quality over years, if not decades. For older equipment, a machine retrofit to update the control automation provides a cost incentive to improve performance.

High-speed production machines need continuous maintenance, and must also meet the latest standards, specifications, and requirements of the user. Older machines may need replacing. Yet, if the mechanics are sound, updating the controls system is far cheaper than replacing the machine. Many automated production plants operate with outdated control systems that would benefit from such a rejuvenation.

When Swiss food ice cream cornet producer Delica AG had problems obtaining spare parts, they needed outside help.

Unobtainable spare parts and system software updates that were no longer available were leading to serious production losses. They were also experiencing increasing failures of drive systems and long mechanical spare parts delivery times and soaring prices.

Resolving this meant rethinking the complete control system, but with it came the opportunity to increase both reliability and productivity. Selecting a machine retrofit specialist in control automation overcomes most challenges. For this, they turned to experienced automation partners Staveb and Omron Automation.

Bringing productivity benefits

The focus of every project is to make the work of operators and those responsible for maintenance easier. Modern control systems help in other ways, like better diagnostics and by enabling the integrator to provide remote intervention and diagnosis. System improvements can result from faster data acquisition and using human-machine interfaces (HMIs) to improve machine handling for operators. Modern energy-saving drives and software support greater flexibility during product line changes and speed up processes.

Single-source benefits integration

Their new control system provides continuous integration between the Omron NX/NJ machine controller software and the OMRON S1servo drives. Furthermore, the Sysmac software supports seamless integration and networking of PLC functions, motion, robotics, HMI, safety, and camera systems.

“Sysmac is more open compared to other suppliers and makes production adaptations easier” says Omron’s Reto Stenico. “The flexible platform allows users to react to changes, control incorrect entries, and adapt faster to new market requirements. It also simplifies the line set up.”

Product variation was a key factor due to the changeover times needed. In addition to different flavours, there are up to 30 different ice cream toppings and up to 20 different shapes. In the past, it could happen that up to 30,000 waffle ice creams could not go on sale during changeovers.

Machine retrofit delivers positive results

Following the machine retrofit, production changes take place without any rejects. Furthermore, the packaging processes are now between 10 and 20 per cent faster. It also improved logging times, and energy efficiency, and introduced predictive maintenance functions.