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19 June, 2021

Safety upgrade safeguards wet-wipe production

15 March, 2021

The soaring demand for hygienic products for use in the fight against Covid-19 means that machine utilisation and uptime are a critical to the global wet-wipe manufacturer, Nice-Pak. When the company needed to upgrade a converting machine at a plant in Wales, it had to install a safety system within a strict timeframe.

Machine utilisation and uptime are a critical KPIs for the wet-wipe manufacturer, Nice-Pak. When the company needed to overhaul a converting machine at its production plant in Flint, North Wales, it was essential to minimise downtime. Its engineering teams were given a short installation window to undertake a significant refurbishment project with the aim of producing a more reliable and intuitive machine.

Because wet-wipe production machines operate at high speeds, they require high-integrity safety-related control systems. Nice-Pak worked closely with the safety equipment supplier Euchner to design and manufacture a bespoke Industry 4.0 ready safety system. Nice-Pak’s risk assessments determined that the safety equipment needed to meet PL d/e (in accordance with EN-ISO-13849), as well as being reliable and providing high levels of diagnostic coverage.

Nice-Pak based the installation on Euchner’s CTM interlocking switches with IO-Link interfaces. The switches’ internal monitoring allow up to 20 to be connected in series and still achieve safety integrity up to Category 4/ PL e. The ability to connect the switches in series reduced the amount of field wiring needed on the machine.

As well as the safety signals, the wiring also carries diagnostic data. Most conventional safety systems require extensive additional cabling to obtain diagnostic data but, in this case, a single core in the interconnection cable carries data for all of the switches in the group. The safety chain is monitored using an Euchner ESM-CB safety relay which transmits the status of the individual switches to a higher-level Rockwell Automation control system via IO-Link.

Using the diagnostic data, Nice-Pak can now identify potential faults on the machine, including switch misalignments caused by wear-and-tear or potential manipulation, and correct any issues before the machine might fail. This information is shown on the machine’s HMI, presenting operators with real-time information to allow them to make informed decisions.

Up to 20 of Euchner’s CTM interlock switches can be connected in series while maintaining PL e safety integrity

It was essential that the new system was installed and commissioned as swiftly as possible. Euchner pre-assembled the interconnects and Nice-Pak carried out the installation in less than half the time that it would have taken using a conventional approach. Not only did this cut the installation costs, but it also allowed the machine to get back into production sooner than planned.

According to Nice-Pak’s group EC&I engineer, Gareth Roberts, a major benefit of the new safety system is its “ability to retain the diagnostic coverage, hence the performance level, while utilising multiple connected locking door switches wired in series, saving time and money”. It was also “extremely quick to install and is performing exactly as expected without any issues”.

“Nice-Pak wasn’t looking for just a switch, but the whole solution, and all to be implemented around very tough deliverables to ensure Nice-Pak continues to retain its world-class productivity achievements,” says Euchner’s UK&I country manager, David Dearden. “I’m very proud of our sales and engineering teams for meeting what was a very strict deadline in delivering this bespoke safety solution.”

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