Streamlining Machine Controls Automation in the Disposable Products Industry

Posted: January 15, 2010 in Press Releases, Siemens General Motion Control
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Fine tuning equipment at Joa

Seamless integration of Siemens drives, automation and controls products enabled faster startups and improved system productivity with Curt G. Joa, Inc. production machines in the nonwovens industry.
by Bill Gilbert, Application Engineer with Siemens Energy and Automation

In the market of baby diapers and personal hygiene products, competition runs high.  Major players in this market know that the slightest changes in product features can yield huge profits for those manufactures that are first to reach the market with a more absorbent, comfortable or easier to use product.  Behind this high-stakes competition, however, is another player, Curt G. Joa, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of machinery for the production of disposable products including baby diapers, sanitary napkins, incontinent pads and related single-use items.  Before these products can come to market the production machines that make them need to be designed or retooled.  The machine re-design process is frequent as product changes are ongoing.  Additionally, there is tight security surrounding these machine design developments.  In a first-ever move, however, Joa has allowed a rare glimpse into its manufacturing facility, spotlighting machine automation and a solution developed in concert with Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc.

Curt G. Joa, Inc.

Since 1932, Curt G. Joa, Inc. (Joa) has earned a worldwide reputation for leadership in the design and manufacture of quality equipment for converting non-woven’s, plastics, paper, films, foil, tape and elastics.  The company has machinery operating in over 55 countries throughout the world.

It has created an engineering environment that provides the utmost confidentiality and personalized service.  The company maintains a fully-staffed team of mechanical and electrical design engineers representing a complete range of machine-building disciplines.  SolidEdge, AutoCAD and EPlan are the drawing standards it uses.  The company builds machines to meet a variety of worldwide codes and standards.

Joa goes beyond process design, however, providing rapid prototyping of complete manufacturing processes.  Using a broad array of existing converting modules, it builds, tests and verifies the processes for its clients.  The company’s multiple test stands are capable of performing a wide variety of web processes at speeds of more than 450 mpm.  Its machines can be configured to slit raw materials, apply adhesives, weld web layers, apply discrete patches of one material onto another and perform complex product folding.  With this approach, Joa can efficiently provide shortened machine delivery schedules and validated process concepts to its clients.

From engineering and design through installation, Joa provides a complete web manufacturing solution to its clients for new systems and equipment upgrades and improvements.  It is one of few global designers in the industry that does not outsource key manufacturing and assembly operations.  It does, however, closely collaborate with qualified solution providers, such as Siemens on machine controls automation.

The company’s machines feature modular designs that reduce product changeover times and make future upgrades simple.  The modular design drives the configuration of automation, human interface, operations and maintenance.  Optional process features permit high-speed production of a wide array of product configurations.  Depending on product type and machine design, maximum process speeds can range up to 1200 products produced per minute.  Projects can range in technology from a simple rotary cut-off unit to major converting machines over 50 meters long, each using upwards of 150 servo axes.

Product testing at Joa

Product testing at Joa

“A disposable products manufacturer recently contacted us about customizing a piece of equipment to go into its primary production line,” says Kevin Zeinemann, manager of Electrical Engineering with Joa“The company was adding a new feature into one of its existing products.  We began building a 8-meter machine section for them at our location.  We were having some difficulty translating their machine’s existing program because we were attempting to cut and paste our new functionality into our client’s existing machine core functionality.  Since this was not working we decided to put a stand-alone Siemens PLC into our machine section, bringing in Siemens techs to guide us through the process.”

“It worked out so well that when it was time to marry up the new machine section with our client’s existing machine at their location, they decided to move all of the information out of their main PLC and put it into the Siemens PLC that we had built,” continued Zeinemann.  “The Siemens controller slated for use on the new 25-foot machine section, started as a tag-along and then eventually took over full ownership of the entire machine process because it had better functionality.”

The PLC that Joa integrated was Siemens SIMATIC® S7-400.  An established platform, the S7-400 controller provides the highest performance in the Siemens SIMATIC S7 family.

A strong feature of the S7-400 is its modularity that is optimized for high-performance machine and factory automation, facilitating integrated and economical system solutions in centralized and distributed architectures.  It has a CPU with integral I/O and integrated technology functions and integrated communications interfaces which create efficient processing speed for short machine cycle times.

“Our clients have different control configurations in place, and different comfort levels and preferences with their automation systems,” adds Zeinemann.  “So, we work within their control specifications.  I will say, however, that Siemens PLCs have excellent speed and performance.  Our client has been quite happy with their functionality as well.”

“The Siemens processor also has an embedded safety functionality,” Zeinemann says.  “Instead of having hard wired devices we were able to do a lot of safety interlocking via the PLC itself, and then network to our many different devices with a simple ProfiNet connection.”

The S7-400 controllers with safety integration provide the highest level of safety for humans, machines and the environment.  They are used to prevent accidents and damage resulting from improper operation.  The safety integrated controllers monitor themselves, detecting faults automatically and immediately.

Single Master Drive with Cascading Motion Commands

For the drives, one of the features uniquely designed into the system is the Siemens FM458 drive controller module within the S7-400 PLC.   This controls a single master drive that cascades multiple virtual masters to control subsequent groups of drives.  Instead of making a synchronized speed change, gear ratio correction or phase advance to each virtual drive, just one change to the master is needed, and every drive in that group will follow.

“Our client also needed 34 additional servo drives to be installed into their new 25-foot machine module,” continues Zeinemann.  “They already were using 300 to 400 Siemens Masterdrive® servo motors on the equipment in their plant, so we specified Masterdrives into our new section as well for compatibility.”

The Masterdrives offload much of the performance that the PLC would normally have to handle.  It puts it into the drive enabling the processor to pick up speed.  The S7-400 PLC communicates to all 34 of servo drives and parameterizes them to send information back and forth.  The drives follow at whatever speed they are told to run.

Siemens Masterdrive servo motors are ideal where high dynamic performance and intelligent motion control functions are required.  They can handle the most complex motion sequences.

 

Joa and Siemens’ technicians setting up a machine on site.

High-Speed Communications Link Improves Performance

As the demand for performance increases, automation networks used to control drive systems have become a limitation to quality and throughput.  While open networks have been developed to control, configure and parameterize drives, they are limited by the overhead required to carry out non-control functions.  To remedy this, Siemens developed SIMOLINK® designed to be a 100 percent control bus with none of the bandwidth stealing functions that could be carried out over a standard fieldbus.

 

Integrated into the Siemens control systems used on Joa machines, SIMOLINK provides the high-speed communications link required to synchronize set points from a single external master.  It enables peer to peer data transfers between drives, and synchronizes the processor time slices of multiple drives and controllers.  While operating at 11 megabits per second with very little overhead, 100 pieces of 32 bit data can be transmitted in 0.63 milliseconds.  A high-speed synchronization pulse ensures that the data is acted upon in every drive at the same time.  SIMOLINK provides Joa equipment with the high-speed communications required to reduce process variance and increase quality.

Totally Integrated Controls Automation – Faster Start-Ups and Improved Productivity

The Siemens automation solution that Joa employed is based on a concept called Totally Integrated Automation (TIA).  TIA is characterized by its unique continuity, providing maximum transparency at all levels with reduced interfacing requirements.  Its influence covers everything from the field level and production control level, up to the corporate management level.  It also provides maximum interoperability, including everything from the controller, HMI and drives, to the process control system.  This reduces the complexity of the automation solution in the plant.

Working closely together, Joa engineers and Siemens were able to develop this project in only a couple weeks.  The commissioning was extremely short.  Joa sent the machine over to its client and it operated flawlessly when it arrived at the plant.  This was one of eight similar machine kits that Siemens jointly produced for this particular Joa client.

“Siemens was closely involved with us on this project from beginning through the final installation,” says Zeinemann. “They spent many hours with us on location, training us and ensuring we were comfortable with the system and their infrastructure and architecture.  With Siemens programming assistance, we were able to do the initial bench testing.  Additionally, when the project was installed, Siemens was with us at our client’s site working to ensure the installation went smoothly.”

The net result of the project was reduced machine design time and lowered total project costs, realized through faster startup and commissioning, as well as thorough testing, diagnostics and debugging prior to shipment.  After observing the results of the first machine, the end user requested that eight other machines in its plant also be upgraded to match this solution design.

Machines in this aspect of the converting industry are very complex, requiring a comprehensive solution.  Siemens and Joa were able to deliver a total controls automation solution, providing seamless integration of drives, automation and control products that enabled faster startups and improved system productivity.

To find our more about Curt G. Joa, Inc. visit its website at www.joa.com.

About Siemens
Siemens Industry, Inc., Drives Technologies, Motion Control is a division of the Siemens operating company in the U.S.  Headquartered in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, Ga., Siemens Industry, Inc. manufactures and markets one of the world’s broadest ranges of electrical and electronic products, systems and services to industrial and construction market customers.  Its technologies range from circuit protection and energy management systems to process control, industrial software and totally integrated automation solutions.  The company also has expertise in systems integration, technical services and turnkey industrial systems.

 

Siemens AG (NYSE:SI) is a global powerhouse in electrical engineering and electronics, focusing on the three key sectors of healthcare, industry and energy.  Founded 160 years ago in Germany, Siemens AG reported sales of $96.6 billion in fiscal year 2007 (ended September 30).   Siemens today employs more than 470,000 people in some 190 countries.  In the United States alone, Siemens had sales of over $25 billion (including export sales), fueled largely by infrastructure projects and innovative solutions in the industry areas of medical, automation and control, power, transportation and lighting. Headquartered in New York City, Siemens in the U.S. employs nearly 72,000 people in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.  The U.S. is also home to the global headquarters of nine of Siemens’ worldwide businesses.  For more information on Siemens in the United States, go to http://www.usa.siemens.com.

For more information

SIEMENS INDUSTRY, INC.

GENERAL MOTION CONTROL

390 Kent Avenue

Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

Phone: 847-640-1595

Fax: 847-437-0784

Web:  www.usa.siemens.com/simotion

Email:  SiemensMTBUMarCom.sea@siemens.com

Attention:  John Meyer, Manager, Marketing Communications

by Bill Gilbert, Application Engineer with Siemens Energy and Automation.

 

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