We have articulated in past posts some of the benefits of configuring processing equipment in skid form. Generally, these advantages have to do with efficient execution, that is that a skid that supports a specific processing step is more thoroughly debugged at the OEM factory, installs quicker and is turned over to production faster with minimal interruptions.
Skid systems solve a wide range of problems for many industries. Even waste processing in a hazardous industry, like one that handles radioactive waste, can be aided by a skid system. This project profile is an example of how a modular fabrication & assembly process can be applied to solve a difficult problem.
At one point, Kodak continuously evaluated over two hundred thousand process and product parameters for all production orders in the worldwide film supply chain. The parameters being evaluated included: key process parameters, such as chemical reactor feed flows and temperatures; product release parameters, such as number of defects in a 10,000 ft master roll of coated film, and the condition of critical process components, such as pump vibration level, heat exchanger approach temperatures, motor current draws and control valve positions. Automatic alerts are generated to alert maintenance when parts need to be replaced or operations when a product just made needs to be held and not released to downstream operations. How did Kodak accomplish this level of aggressive monitoring in a global supply chain with flexible manufacturing systems and thousands of product recipes? In short, the answer is Process Monitor.
One of our core competencies at Optimation is in the development, design, fabrication and improvement of web-based, or roll-to-roll, processes. Optimation owns and operates a web development laboratory – we call it the Media Conveyance Facility (MCF). Many things you use on a regular basis are produced on a web, from aluminum foil to the thin glass used in cell phones.
In business, it’s been said, “you need to spend money to make money.” This axiom certainly applies to capital investing, where market demands can be exploited with increased production through the careful implementation of new equipment.
One of the most important factors for a successful project is being able to specify the requirements up front. Many times, the customer doesn’t know exactly what he needs. More preliminary engineering is required to get the project requirements specific enough for suppliers to offer a fixed price bid for the project. But often, clients don’t realize they need to budget for this and therefore don’t want to pay for this service.
Recently a team of Optimation’s web conveyance experts teamed up with a pair of Eastman Kodak’s IT experts to create a means to demonstrate the power of applying a process monitoring tool to a known but illusive problem. The demonstration involved using Optimation’s Thin Web Rewinder, one of the pilot machines located in our Media Conveyance Facility, and Kodak’ proprietary Process Monitor software. We elected to use roller traction as the parameter of interest, because it is a functional attribute that is subtle, making it challenging to measure and status over time.
Robots are beginning to show up everywhere. Of all the amazing technical developments that are part of Industry 4.0, the fastest growing sector is robotics. By 2020, over $100 billion a year will be invested in robots and this amount is projected to double every two years.
I recently attended the New York State Manufacturing Conference in Troy, hosted by the CATS center at RPI. The focus of the conference was advancing technology and manufacturing in New York. I had the opportunity to be part of the conference and gave a talk titled, “Building on New York’s Manufacturing Legacy in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0.” Industry 4.0 is an amazing step forward in technology and defines an exciting era for manufacturing which began just this decade.
Following up on my last blog post, I continue the discussion acknowledging that safety is not trivial or to be taken for granted. It is multi-level and is tied to the long-term success of each project and every client. The first three levels of safety covered were operator, consumer/customer, and product/process. This post covers the remaining two: equipment and environment.