Papermaker cuts downtime with remote monitoring, diagnostics

Continuous production requires continuous support because sudden machine failures can damage products, disrupt deliveries, increase labor, shrink revenues, and make customers very unhappy. Independent papermaker Finch, Pruyn & Co. Inc. (Glen Falls, NY) is especially aware that reliable equipment and uptime are crucial because one of its four machines, which produces bonded specialty paper, ...

12/01/2003


Continuous production requires continuous support because sudden machine failures can damage products, disrupt deliveries, increase labor, shrink revenues, and make customers very unhappy. Independent papermaker Finch, Pruyn & Co. Inc. (Glen Falls, NY) is especially aware that reliable equipment and uptime are crucial because one of its four machines, which produces bonded specialty paper, accounts for 55% of its output and revenue. Founded in 1865, Finch produces more than 240,000 tons of paper per year.

To prevent unplanned downtime, Finch initially implemented TeamSupport reactive telephone support service from Rockwell Automation. TeamSupport provides around-the-clock, direct access and troubleshooting via a dedicated phone number to specialists armed with Finch's design and engineering specifications. TeamSupport helped solve problems more quickly, but the program relied on Finch's ability to discover a problem, call TeamSupport, and send maintenance personnel to the downed process line. This could add 30-60 minutes or more of downtime, and cost up to $10,000 or more per event. The papermaker needed to prevent problems before they occurred.

Rockwell recommended that Finch switch from reactive troubleshooting to its In.Site Continuous Support proactive, real-time, remote monitoring and diagnostics service. Besides providing troubleshooting similar to TeamSupport, In.Site allows Rockwell's off-site process engineers to continuously monitor the control system on Finch's bonded paper line, proactively watching for trouble signs that may lead to unplanned downtime.

To monitor the bonded paper machine, Rockwell's engineers installed a network communications kiosk on Finch's plant floor. This device connects each intelligent device in the paper production process, such as controllers and drives, to the In.Site service. The kiosk's wide area network (WAN) gathers plant-floor data, puts it in electronic packets, which are sent to a data warehouse at In.Site's command center, near Cleveland, OH.

Engineers at the command center continuously assess production status using proprietary software that compares real-time and historical process data, such as line speed, yield and mean, to a predetermined optimal range. If a parameter deviates outside the range, the center notifies plant-floor staffers, often before they realize a problem exists, and then troubleshoots to learn the cause, corrects it, and restores normal operation.

In its first six months at Finch, In.Site prevented numerous potential downtime events, including:

  • Inconsistent speed control, which could have caused 10-24 hours of downtime and cost $120,000. After tracing this problem to an older, defective drive that was heading for failure, the command center recommended replacing it. Because maintenance staff at Finch didn't have a precise replacement and were unsure if they could use a newer, larger drive that was in stock, In.Site's engineers performed in-depth calculations, and determined that the larger drive could be used, but would require considerable programming to function within the paper machine's operating parameters. Finch installed the drive on the plant floor, and Rockwell's engineers remotely configured it.

  • Communication network fault, which could have caused one hour of downtime and cost $9,000. In.Site detected a communication network fault that prevented distributed I/O inputs from being received by the main processor. The problem was fixed during the next scheduled shutdown.

  • Dandy roll pulse tachometer fault, which could have caused one hour or longer downtime and cost $9,000. The command center identified a pulse tach fault on the machine's dandy roll Automax chassis, and determined it was likely hardware-related. The plant floor checked the connections on the resolver module, found a high-moisture situation, and replaced the resolver.

  • Clogged filter alarm, which could have caused one hour or longer downtime and cost $9,000. In.Site informed plant personnel of an alarm on a clogged hydraulic filter; plant personnel corrected it, and restored normal operations in 15 minutes.

So far, In.Site has helped Finch save an estimated $200,000 in production and labor costs by reducing unplanned downtime events by nearly 50%. "Unplanned downtime used to be a constant concern, but now we're confident the specialty paper line will remain in operation, and, if it does go down, duration of the event will be minimized," says John Zak, Finch's drive system specialist. "In fact, In.Site has already paid for itself three times over."

jmontague@reedbusiness.com

For more information, visit www.rockwellautomation.com





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