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The CORTICEIRA AMORIM SGPS, S.A. is the largest company of cork products in the world and also one of the most international Portuguese companies, with clients in dozens of countries on all continents.

The AMORIM CORK COMPOSITES, S.A. is one of the units in the group. Located in Mozelos - Portugal, this unit deals mainly with the following business areas: noise control solutions for subfloors, floors and wood panels integration; sealing joints for the automobile industry, transformers and power distributors, gas measuring devices and water heaters; expansion and contraction joints; home and office accessories; and footwear components.

Project developed during the years 2006/2008.

Challenge

ACC's agglomerated cork lamination area
As the result of the existing cooperation history between EGITRON and AMORIM CORK COMPOSITES, a challenge was launched by the latter: the development and implementation of a broad system intended for ACC's agglomerated cork lamination area (9 machines). The solution had to integrate the following aspects: command of the lamination machine that were on the agglomerated cork area; production supervision of agglomerated cork laminates; development of devices to automatically control the laminates thickness and the blocks moisture; statistical process control software; and integration with a previously ACC implemented machine, the ERP AS400.
The situation before the project
Before EGITRON's intervention with this project, the situation was as follows:

Each lamination machine was individually commanded by an operator through a console that was connected to the machine PLC; the information about the production that was made (quantities, stops, non-conformities) was saved on the PLC memory that allowed the viewing on the console but didn't allow the exportation to other digital formats, or to any medium at all; the information related to the pending orders were given to the operator in paper form, generated by the AS400, with manual corrections and notes; the quality control and related records were made manually and with the help of devices that did not guarantee independence from the operator that made them; the statistical process control was implemented but didn't have any tool to allow records or information in real-time.
Difficulties and problems
The difficulties and problems were multiple and quite different from one another, the following being the most distinct:

There was too much information being transmitted by paper, which resulted in errors, delays and unnecessary costs (on the production maps, on the quality control records, etc); deficient supervision on production, this being a result of the difficulty in taking advantage of the information present in the machines' PLCs, making impossible the task of generating indicators of production management; statistical process control was almost unproductive, since there was no tool to inform the factory operators of a certain line of conduct or offering important feedback in real time (alarms); information was scattered.

Solution

EGITRON's intervention occurred in all the areas previously stated and that were part of the project requirements.
Hardware
Industrial PCs: The command consoles were completely removed and replaced by industrial PCs.

Thickness Control Stands and Connection Interfaces: For the quality control, it was installed in each lamination machine a Thickness Control Stand (MCE), developed and built by EGITRON and a KPM Interface to connect the AquaBoy moisture meters, based in ADAM module.

Software
Standard version of EGITRON SPC Pro : A standard version of the statistical process control software, EGITRON SPC Pro, was implemented, and could be accessed in each industrial PC via Terminal Service. It could acquire data automatically from the MCEs (Thickness Control Stands) and the AquaBoy moisture meters;

Custom software:A specifically built software was developed to control and supervise the production in each lamination machine, ensuring all command functionalities that existed on the previous consoles and adding quite a lot of new ones. It also provided a wide range of indicators of production management and communicated directly with the PLCs that remained.
Integration mechanism
Integration mechanisms for multiple systems and modules were implemented the following way:

Pending Ofs importation from the AS400 to EGITRON's supervision software;

Exportation to the AS400 of the information related to the production and managed by EGITRON's supervision software;

Information sharing of orders in process, between EGITRON's supervision software and EGITRON SPC Pro.

Applicability

The AMORIM CORK COMPOSITES project illustrates in an exemplary way, the integrating side of EGITRON. The SPC Pro is a tool that can be (and has been) implemented on other industries and with EGITRON help and intervention will always have the possibility of integrating different quality control devices, supervision systems and production control systems (developed by EGITRON or by others).

The complete implementation of this solution, gave EGITRON the opportunity of strengthening and built up knowledge about supervision systems, ERPs integration, PLCs communication, etc, knowledge that can be used in future similar projects, even if the business areas are completely different.

 

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