Making food packaging processes more flexible
Quality and the multifunctionality of packaging lines is important, and in addition they must meet the highest requirements in terms of productivity, flexibility, reliability and absolute safety.
Nestlé Purina Petcare, based in Aubigny, France, is a worldwide manufacturer of dog and cat food; its priority is the quality of its products. Packaging lines were upgraded during a comprehensive retrofit of its production facilities to serve the rapidly growing business. The aim was to achieve a highly flexible, safe production process as the factory manufactures round the clock with production facilities running seven days a week, involving a variety of product and packaging cycles.
These continuously changing production cycles demand an automation technology that can be tailored flexibly to the respective packaging process. That's why Nestlé Purina Petcare opted for the PSS 4000 automation system from Pilz, which can be used to implement standard as well as safety-related automation tasks simply and above all flexibly, as changes in the packaging process are continuously repeated. Before the upgrade, the packaging line was controlled via a relay-based solution, which assumed control of safety functions such as emergency stop, light beam devices, door locking devices, etc.
The necessary rise in production meant that this technology had reached its limit. The modernisation work on the packaging lines comprised a full upgrade of the control components; the PSS 4000 automation technology was easy to integrate into the plant's existing basic structure. The PSS 4000 automation system allows the hardware and software design to begin immediately as they are developed independently of each other meaning that the required hardware can be defined faster because the system and hardware development run in parallel.
The selection criteria included absolute flexibility, easy operation, simple diagnostics via the corresponding software platform PAS 4000 and data transfer via the real-time Ethernet SafetyNET p, which enables all data to be transferred safely. The real-time Ethernet adapts to the existing data transfer structure and uses the existing Ethernet - Modbus TCP to communicate with the distributed remote stations PSSuniversal I/O and the automation system's higher level control systems PSSuniversal PLC. Safety data from the individual stations and the installed operator terminals is transferred in real-time, as is the data from the packing stations.
PSS 4000 also enables all data to be managed on a decentralised basis: if one of the seven areas on a packaging line has to switch to a safe condition in the case of danger, the other areas will continue production, so that the overall process is not interrupted. "Standstill times were reduced significantly thanks to the improved diagnostic function", says Thierry Jouval, project manager at Nestlé Purina Petcare. PSS 4000 offers simple installation, programming and the added benefit that the software can be created independently of the hardware via the corresponding software platform PAS 4000. With many of these applications, the focus was on potential expansions to the plant and therefore on a very high degree of flexibility.
As a result of ongoing developments in the automation system PSS 4000, such as a new Editor in accordance with EN/IEC 61131-3 for standard and safety and the control system PSSuniversal multi, even greater scalability is possible, again enabling increased flexibility.
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