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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Máquinas Fix Develops Industrial Solution for the Manufacturing of Ecological Bricks

Friendly Interface, Flexibility and Remote Maintenance, the Perfect Combination found at InduSoft Web Studio by Máquinas Fix


  • The Brazilian company Máquinas Fix developed a complete solution for the manufacturing of ecological bricks

  • InduSoft Web Studio was chosen because of its friendly interface, flexibility and easy integration with a variety of hardware platform

  • Máquinas Fix estimates a 50% improvement in production time due to the ability to analyze data in real time

Figure 1: Brick press loaded for the final step



 

Background


Awareness is growing globally for the need for more ecologically sustainable methods of production. One company in Brazil, Monteiro Tijolos, produces ecological bricks that have a much smaller carbon footprint and can be used in sustainable architecture instead of resource-heavy traditional fired bricks. Monteiro Tijolos’ ecological bricks are produced with a mixture of gravel and cement, and adhere to the standard NBR10834. Monteiro Tijolos contacted Máquinas Fix to develop an industrial solution for the manufacturing of their ecological bricks.

 



Figure 2: Synoptic equipment – automated factory version

Figure 3: Production and setting screen


The Challenge


When Monteiro Tijolos approached Máquinas Fix with the project, they had several challenging specifications that had to be met as part of the project.  They required a great deal of flexibility for future hardware and software additions, as well as supervisory software capable of offering a graphical interface for the process, and the ability to add remote maintenance functions as the project expanded. Monteiro Tijolos also required that the final interface offer easy configuration for engineers working with the project in the future.

 


Initially, Máquinas Fix explored several supervisory software platforms for this project, but found that they lacked required features, or the flexibility required for the process. They did not offer easy integration with a variety of hardware platforms, and were difficult to configure.  Máquinas Fix then explored InduSoft Web Studio as a possible solution.

 


Because InduSoft Web Studio can be easily configured, offers remote access capabilities, and includes over 240 native drivers for easy integration, it was the perfect HMI solution for this project. InduSoft Web studio offers native TwinCAT communication, which would enable quick integration of the Beckhoff CP6207 Máquinas Fix employed in the hardware solution.

 



Figure 4: Produced bricks data screen


The Solution


The process itself includes three main stages in creating the raw material; batching, mixing, and moistening. Once the material is ready, the blocks are compacted and shaped to final specifications. The final product must adhere to the Brazilian standard NBR10834, which regulates ecological brick standards.

 


The Máquinas Fix solution includes a local HMI on the compressing machine that feeds the ecological brick mixture into the machine and then compacts the material. The HMI provides quick and easy reference for process data on a Windows CE touch screen embedded into the machine. The small footprint of InduSoft Web Studio enables the application to run efficiently on Windows CE devices, enabling Máquinas Fix to offer real-time process information to the machine operator.

 


The HMI relays data from the PLCs to show operators the current status of the brick press, the pressure of the compactor, and the current status of the product, including information about whether it conforms to standards or must be rejected. The production screen shows a detailed account of total product accepted or rejected, and detailed information about the composition and density of the bricks. This screen enables operators to understand total production efficiency at a glance and offers basic OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) capabilities.

 


The application also includes a maintenance screen that offers operators manual control of the machine, as well as enabling maintenance tasks. Operators can manually turn on or off the motor or pumps, change the pressure of the compactor, or move the machine cylinders.

 


Alarms and messages can also be sent at every stage of production to alert operators if the product is not conforming to standards or the machine needs to be adjusted for better efficiency.

 



The Results

This pilot project had the main objective of demonstrating a solution for the manufacture of ecological bricks in order to share the technology and demonstrate the superior results that could be achieved using equipment provided by Máquinas Fix as opposed to other solutions available on the market. The successful implementation of InduSoft Web Studio enabled Máquinas fix to provide quantifiable data to demonstrate the efficacy of their technology.

 


The HMI embedded in the machine makes it possible to quickly check the overall efficiency of the machine, and evaluate the product to ensure that it complies with necessary standards. The HMI offers manual machine control, maintenance capabilities and a quick overview of status notifications. The addition of alerts enables operators to react quickly to problems. These combined benefits mean that it’s possible for Monteiro Tijolos to make a large quantity of high quality ecological bricks as efficiently as possible. Máquinas Fix estimates a 50% improvement in production time due to the ability to analyze multiple data points using charts and objects in InduSoft Web Studio.

 


More importantly, machine operators are able to react quickly to the information and stop the machine, change the pressure of the compactor, or perform maintenance to see why blocks are not conforming to spec. This enables Monteiro Tijolos to save time and money in the production of their product.

 


The addition of these supervisory functions directly to the HMI in the form of small-footprint software means that this HMI can stand alone or be integrated into a larger SCADA system for a complete overview of the machine performance. InduSoft Web Studio is scalable for future improvements, including remote web access or communication to and from SQL databases.





Figure 5: Manual commands screen




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