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Manufacturer glad of equipment monitoring system

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AS with all production lines, unplanned equipment downtime wrecks scheduled throughputs. Clorox, which makes Glad Wrap among many lines at its Padstow plant in NSW, knew that to reach production targets it needed to better understand the cause of equipment downtime.

Clorox’s original manual data-gathering method attempted to record and report on all downtime and the causal factors involved. But, according to Clorox operations manager Doug Welch, manual systems do not capture every stoppage, or identify every reason behind the stoppage.

“What we wanted to achieve was a new level of understanding via a system that would capture every stoppage and be able to tell us vital information,” Welch said. “Things like time lost due to each stoppage and the number of times stoppages occurred as a result of any particular component or procedural malfunction.”

The company selected a solution with a real-time plant operations information tool called Iview from Itech Corporation.

Itech Corporation project manager Jasse Chawla said Iview was developed to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) such as production rate, production efficiency, asset yield and asset utilisation in real time.

“Iview shows the reasons for downtime and individual downtime-event duration, as well as product changeover times, performance in terms of throughput of product manufactured, performance in terms of yield, productivity per shift analysis and overall equipment effectiveness,” Chawla said.

The Clorox premium wrap production line consists of identical pieces of equipment that produce standard width wrap in various lengths. These units deliver the wrapped cores to a packaging line which boxes the individual rolls and then cartons the rolls for warehousing prior to customer delivery.

The production line runs three shifts a day and each shift is allocated a target throughput as it takes over from the previous shift. This information is fed into the system and monitoring and reporting commences instantly.

Every time a machine experiences downtime, whether for a second or an extended period, downtime information is recorded, and the data displayed and stored.

According to Welch, this is invaluable information for each new shift. “As a new shift commences, the personnel are presented with a concise record of the line’s performance during the previous shift. They can readily see if that shift met its production target and if not, can see exactly what factors caused the production shortfall. This obviously allows them to more effectively plan for their shift’s production target.

“Of particular benefit is the ability to isolate downtime in relation to particular components within a piece of equipment. Although some downtime events may only last for a brief duration, repeated stoppages due to individual component malfunctions can add up to a significant percentage of overall downtime. With Iview we can now accurately capture these events,” Welch said.

The system consists of one workstation performing as a database server, operational node and reporting facility. It is located on the plant floor within the product line’s environment.

In all, seven PLCs are used in the application, one as the workstation, one as a stand-alone unit and five networked across the production machines and the packaging line.

Customisation and modifications of the standard product was undertaken over three months, with configuration, installation and commissioning taking just under four weeks. The project encompassed site surveys, writing the operation specifications, system design, configuration, installation, commissioning and training.

The completed application at Clorox is capable of generating a variety of information including production schedules for the total weekly throughput and the monitored results of actual production based on this schedule.

From data collected, reports can be generated analysing production line performance against KPIs, downtime monitoring, plus functionality enabling time and frequency sorting to suggest the most frequent causes for downtime.

Following the success of the application on the premium wrap line, Clorox is now looking at installing the system on similar production lines within the factory.

Itech Corporation 02 9558 2700.

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