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HMIs streamline product flow

Published: 20 December 2011 - Michelle Lea

A UK-based machine builder has reported positive feedback from customers after installing HMIs from MAC Solutions on an industrial oven and food handling and conveyor system. Based in Haverhill, Suffolk, AMP Systems & Control specialises in the design and build of special purpose food handling and conveyor systems and stackers. “Four months ago, a local customer approached us and specified that he wanted two Beijer HMIs on his meat handling machine,” comments Richard Taylor, systems design engineer at AMP. “The iX Panel series in particular offered so much more control functionality and open connectivity than I had seen before.”

Another customer needed a control and automation system to help solve a critical issue surrounding its industrial ovens which are used for cooking meat products; these have a door on each side which operators use to enter and exit the oven.

As the ovens are located in the centre of production lines, operators were using ovens as a short cut to access other areas of the production line downstream. This was a problem because if two operators opened both doors of the oven simultaneously during the cooking process, there was a definite risk of meat becoming contaminated. A control and automation solution was therefore required.

“The customer supplies meat to major supermarkets, so it was absolutely critical that we helped them solve this contamination issue,” explains Taylor.

Robust solution

The solution provided by AMP included two Beijer iX Panel T60 HMIs. Offering high performance with a robust IP66 lightweight aluminium construction, the HMI has a 5.7-inch touchscreen colour display and includes Beijer’s iX runtime software. The 320 x 240 pixel display ensures excellent viewing in all conditions and a large viewing angle at all times.

The iX Panel offers three keypad models and five touchscreen models – providing a robust HMI solution for industrial environments including food processing applications.

Two iX Panel T60 HMIs are now installed on each door of the oven to control the locks and ensure that no operators can enter the oven at certain times during the cooking process.

“The operators now use the HMI’s touchscreen display to control the complete oven cooking cycle,” explains Taylor.

“Once the oven is loaded, an operator uses the touchscreen display to set up the cooking cycle. An alarm can be set on the high-risk side of the oven, preventing any operators from entering through that door while cooking is in progress. Alarms can be both visual and audible.

Once the cooking is completed, this information is again entered via the touchscreen.

“The primary benefit to the customer is eliminating the risk of contamination of the meat. However, the new HMIs have also helped to speed up the whole cooking process. Furthermore, when some representatives from a supermarket customer walked around the plant recently, they were very impressed by the look and feel of the new HMI control system.”

Higher throughput

AMP has also specified an iX Panel for a new development machine that the company is currently working on.

“We purchased an iX Panel T40 HMI for this job which involves the design and build of a servo-driven channeliser (conveyor) machine for food packs,” says Taylor. “Normally, the customer would use a pneumatic-driven machine but our servo-driven machine offers a higher throughput, from 140 to 160 packs per minute.

“Although we haven’t quite finished testing the new machine yet, the iX Panel T40 will even allow me to upload a photo of the complete channeliser machine and to then set certain zones of the machine as selectable on the HMI display. The interface is so intuitive and familiar to operators, which makes training faster, easier and more enjoyable.

“Rather than program through a PLC, I can now do this on the HMI itself, which saves time and is easier. The look and feel of the iX Panel is fantastic, the trending software is really useful and I will be looking at the remote access side of the HMI shortly, which will enable me to download updates for a customer machine or make engineering changes remotely from my PC or laptop.”

Industry Connections: MAC Solutions UK Ltd


 
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