PC-controlled conveyor enhances productivity, customer service

To improve productivity and customer service in meeting the demands of its $1.3 million, 4,000-order-per-day business, Kennametal Inc., a global supplier of metal cutting tools, wanted to consolidate eight regional distribution facilities into one, state-of-the-industry, automated North American Distribution Center.


To improve productivity and customer service in meeting the demands of its $1.3 million, 4,000-order-per-day business, Kennametal Inc., a global supplier of metal cutting tools, wanted to consolidate eight regional distribution facilities into one, state-of-the-industry, automated North American Distribution Center.

Kennametal also sought to improve customer service with a one-order, one-shipment, and one-invoice system, at its 125,000 ft2Cleveland, Ohio, facility.

Implementing a computer-controlled 4,800-ft conveyor system has improved inventory management, order entry, and material handling systems.

Exceeds initial target

Kennametal facilities manager Tom McNamara says, "Our operating performance proves that, while technologically sophisticated, the system is easy to use. Our initial target for efficiency was to get 94% of orders out the door on the same day. We're already at 97%, and we see the opportunity for ongoing significant gains, because of the control system's flexibility."

The control system's open platform, incorporating Cutler-Hammer's (Milwaukee, Wis.) PC-based DeviceNet solution, provides flexible information flow, and allows real-time automated updates of product movement through the warehouse, from arrival on the receiving docks until departure from shipping. It also provides order status updates to management. In conjunction with smart distributed controls, Kennametal's PC-based system moves products through the facility and to customers with increased order processing speed and accuracy, according to those involved with the project. PC-based controls ensured the system's ease of installation and start-up, reduced wiring costs, and provided diagnostics to reduce downtime.

Kennametal's distribution center has a 30-ft ceiling and uses a mezzanine system with eight bays and 16 zones. The conveyor system uses Cutler-Hammer's NetView, which provides DeviceNet addressing; Steeplechase Software's (Ann Arbor, Mich.) PC-based control, which handles tote control and motor control; and NetPoiNT, which provides HMI screens of process overview, tote management, motor and network diagnostics. The system also uses Advantage enclosed control on DeviceNet, Prism photoeyes, touchscreen monitors, and other Cutler-Hammer products.

The control system tracks more than 32,000 variables, in addition to information to control the conveyors, such as timers, inputs, and counters.

A key requirement of the conveyor control system, Mr. McNamara says, was the need for linkage with Kennametal's SAP system, an Oracle-based, inter-enterprise software system that tracks each step while fulfilling orders. The link with the SAP software was created quickly, allowing a SAP server application to run in the same PC.

Using the connection, orders are sent via multiple order entry locations to the North American Distribution Center, where fulfillment begins. Kennametal has already tapped into the informational resource created linking SAP system and Steeplechase PC-based control.

Mr. McNamara says the new system exceeded initial expectations. "Even though we're still technically in start-up, we track errors using Six Sigma criteria, calculating the number of errors per million lines shipped. Our target is 500. While we are not there yet, we have consistently been over our goal, which is 99.9 percent accuracy," he says.

For more information from Cutler-Hammer, www.ch.cutler-hammer.com , from Steeplechase Software, www.steeplechase.com , ; or visit www.controleng.com/freeinfo .

System improvements at a glance

Kennametal's new 125,000 ft

Gets 97% of 4,000 daily orders out the door same day;

Allows real-time automated updates of product movement;

Provides order status updates to management;

Lowered wiring costs;

Provides diagnostics to reduce downtime;and

Tracks more than 32,000 variables.

Source: Control Engineering with information from Kennametal

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Intelligent, efficient PLC programming: Cost-saving programming languages are available now; Automation system upgrades; Help from the cloud; Improving flow control; System integration tips
Smarter machines require smarter systems; Fixing PID, part 3; Process safety; Hardware and software integration; Legalities: Integrated lean project delivery
Choosing controllers: PLCs, PACs, IPCs, DCS? What's best for your application?; Wireless trends; Design, integration; Manufacturing Day; Product Exclusive
PLCs, robots, and the quest for a single controller; how OEE is key to automation solutions.
This article collection contains several articles on improving the use of PID.
Learn how Industry 4.0 adds supply chain efficiency, optimizes pricing, improves quality, and more.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again