Cerulean was recently took on a major contract to design and install an automated closed-loop filter control system at a major US tobacco manufacturer. They entered into a development partnership with Automated Tooling Systems (ATS) of Ontario, Canada to assist in some of the automation required to make the system work.
The new system automatically samples product alternately from each maker (a 2:1 sampling system) then transports these to a single test station for measurement of weight, circumference, ovality, and RTD. The sample measurements are analyzed by maker-dedicated PLCs which compares results against control limits. The resulting process control data is used to automatically adjust the filter controls on the maker on a continuous basis within an automated feedback loop. The PLCs communicate on the customer network to provide measured data to - while also receiving system data from - the maker network system that provides operator information, quality analysis, and data storage.
There are several benefits to the new system: controlling the quality of the finished product to stricter limits; a significant decrease in a productís variability with increased control on optimum settings, resulting in consistent quality while minimizing waste of materials; automatically adjusting the filter makers via a network, allows for the reduction of manpower.
The measuring stations themselves take advantage of Ceruleanís newest measuring technology. They utilize auto-calibration to eliminate the need for continual manual calibrations and use long-life silicon sleeves in the PD unit that last up to three months. So, in addition to the benefits of auto-sampling and closed-loop control, the customer benefits from decreased non-productive time and maintenance costs. Cerulean was able to show that the the systemís cost of ownership, over a 10-year period, will be significantly lower than other systems on the market.
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