RidgeTech was asked by a machine build client to design and program a control system that could integrate the production equipment and material handling for a high speed Intravenous (IV) Bag production system. The line was designed to produce a wide variety of products in varying bag sizes and operate at speeds of up to 240 bags per minute. The challenges with this system were:
- Balancing production speeds between the different machines and the almost 200 conveyors needed to move the intravenous bag through the system
- The ways in which the bags had to be presented to each of the 27 different stations performing a variety of production and inspection processes
- Integrating the many control platforms that each of the individual machines operated on into one unified system.
The list of equipment included form/fill/seal machines, sterilizers, leak detectors, metal detectors, vision systems, inspection stations, over wrappers and case packers. The project included equipment manufacturers from 6 different countries and encompassed a multitude of control platforms.
RidgeTech began by engaging the end user, along with the various machine builders and mechanical designers from around the world to determine an order of magnitude for the project. By determining the overall process, the I/O counts, the motor counts and the signals required to/from each machine we were able to establish the baseline requirements for the control system. As this was a pharmaceutical application we had to consider GMP compliance and the various regulatory requirements placed on the designs and software.
We utilized a Rockwell Automation control platform based around multiple 1756-L83S processors and distributed I/O utilizing 1734 Point I/O. Motor control was managed using a combination of PowerFlex 525 VFD’s and Kinetix 6500 Servo Drives. FactoryTalk View SE was selected as the operator interface and screens were displayed on a total of 11 IPC’s throughout the facility. PlantPAX was used to standardize visualizations between all of the equipment and to collect and display OEE data. We utilized PackML to standardize signals and machine states across the various types of equipment on the line. Using PackML as a template proved an efficient way to organize a project with multiple machine builders speaking different languages and utilizing a variety of control platforms and programming styles.
The entire project was completed in 29 months from design to site acceptance and validation. The result was a highly robust control system that proved capable of running at the demanding speeds required by the client. The system seamlessly managed the signals to and from each of the OEM machines and provided complete visual overviews of the entire line for the operation and maintenance teams. Management had transparent views of all data with the ability to produce up to the minute reports including production counts, reject counts, down time and overall equipment efficiency. We were extremely proud to be a part of such an important and rewarding project.