We often say that we take away our client's pain - we solve problems for them, often complex ones. That can sound kind of vague, but that's because of the vast variety of problems we solve. Industrial clients have used us to solve problems such as machinery that requires safety guarding, or even a much larger problem like desalination of brine at a salt mine. The following example is a solution we came up with for a client with a very sensitive product produced on a roll-to-roll machine. To protect the client's confidentiality, their name and product are kept generic.
A manufacturer of nanomaterials for composites had a product that needed to be produced without being touched or disturbed. The company’s product is manufactured continuously on a roll-to-roll web. The end result is a coated wound roll of a delicate powder, which if touched would abrade off and release into the air, becoming a health concern. The manufacturer came to Optimation to help solve the issue of how to produce the rolls without damaging the coating.
Optimation came up with a solution that uses three winders in one – the winder for the product, and two interleavers that provide a gap that keeps the product from touching. This machine winds the product concurrently with the two interleaved strips on either edge. The machine maintains the tension of the product and the two strips simultaneously. Steering also needed to be considered – the machine steers the product on the winder and steers the two interleaved strips onto the product. Measurement equipment on the winder detects the lack of the presence of the coating and maps for defects.
This was a concept to completion solution from machine engineering and design to fabrication and controls.
Because this winder was a module that coupled into the existing production line, Optimation did a fair amount of collaboration on environmental and process conditions. The required solution was further complicated by having to operate in a clean room environment.
Optimation’s controls and our hardware and logic had to be compatible with existing technology in the plant. Working within their platform, Optimation provided the control logic and software to be integrated into their system.
Optimation skilled tradesmen built the skid based winding module in Optimation’s shop using a combination of purchased components, fabricated parts, and assembly tools and expertise. The machine was set up and temporarily wired for a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) in Optimation’s facility, which involved powering the machine up and confirming motions and actuations before the skid was delivered and installed at the client’s facility.