System Integration and Line Automation

Our company is derived from family of fruit growers. It is from there that our the work ethic and understanding of the unique characteristics of fruit and vegetable production come from

We support fruit growers and packing companies by providing and implementing high-end technology solutions for years. We focus on proven, technically advanced solutions that measurably optimize production, reduce costs, and increase the quality of the final product. Thanks to our experience in this field, we know the importance of proven and reliable technology in fruit and vegetable production.

Taking into account these two points of view –grower and supplier’ perspective- we know that integration of different machines and constant supervision over production processes and products quality is crucial.

The holistic view on the packhouse operations lies in the foundation of our approach. Even the fastest machines will not perform if they are not integrated in one system. Taking the step further while always being close to our customers and their needs, we are expanding our offer with automation of the production line.

MILBOR PMC offers solutions for the automation of the production process in fruit and vegetables industry. It allows to expand and upgrade the customer’s current workflow of the machines. Our Automation team can provide solutions to optimize various line systems including both equipment provided by MILBOR PMC as well as 3rd party equipment providers.

The latest technologies significantly improve production efficiency. Thanks to line automation, all the important information about machines are available to monitor remotely or through a single HMI panel of the control cabinet.

These solutions are based on PLC programming and customised software.

Line Control System (MPLC) Management of the entire line at one finger tip

The line control system is designed according to the customer’s requirements. It makes it possible to manage the entire line from a single location using an operator panel (HMI) that has access to the diagnostics and status of each line component and continuously displays the production progress. The control machine displays the causes of stops, faults and errors, and is responsible for controlling, navigating, and monitoring the machine workflow, thus saving the operators’ time. The Line Control System can be purchased together with individual machines or the entire packing and/or sorting line. Our automation department can integrate the system with your existing equipment.

An integrated line control system based on a PLC

  • Management of the entire line from a single HMI panel
  • Conveyors speed control from one location
  • Management of signals from individual devices. Ability to adapt control signals to desired actions for smooth production
  • Overview of packing line status from one location
  • A diagnostics menu showing the current status of all machines signals and parameters
  • OPTION: GLOBAL E-STOP – Emergency stop for all machines via certified STO (Safe Torque Off) inputs. Ensures that all packing line drives are stopped at the same time in order to comply with CE regulations
  • OPTION: REMOTE CONTROL – Remote access to the HDMI Screen in order to have overview on current machinery work

Benefits / Why is it a good idea to implement it?

Saving Operator Time
Production Performance
Safety
Saving Operator Time
  • A single place for production line management, which saves the time spent on starting individual machines
  •  Time savings on the set-up with pre-programmed profiles
  • Fast troubleshooting of problems
  • Remote access for line managers and maintenance
  • Availability for continuous improvement
  • Product protection – signal automation prevents product collision during the possible failure of individual machines
Production Performance
  • Safety – the emergency stop function allows you to stop the production line with one button
  • True compliance with CE regulations (GLOBAL E-STOP)
  • By creating a safety place to work, employees can feel more comfortable during performance of their duties
  • Hazard mitigation and control, as well as security risk identification
Safety
  • Communication and signal management for more efficient production
  • Faster changeover
  • Optimized conveyor speed depending on the product
  • OEE improvement
Line Reporting & Diagnostics (MLRD) A production process supervision and performance diagnostics

Shortage of employees, the low efficiency of the production process and rising production costs remain the main problems faced by producers and growers. Constant supervision of machines performance, as well as employees would enable managers to better control the production lines, thus increasing process efficiency and reducing production costs.

Being aware of many aspects which are important in a production process, we constantly work on tools that enable accurate production supervision and process performance diagnostics. The MLRD system is responsible for collecting data from all production lines. Thanks to it, operators or line managers have constant access (also remotely) to the current production status.
The purpose of the MLRD system is to increase production performance. Its main functions are:

  • collecting and visualising current data from the production line,
  • controlling the production process
  • remote access to the line status,
  • alarms and shift reports.

Examples of information presented:

  • For individual profiles, one can determine their default performance and then compare it with the current performance of the production line
  • Visualisation of line throughput using indicators.
  • Visualisation of current data and historical data.
  • Reports summarising production line downtime showing the percentage of interruptions caused by a given machine
  • Production reports as percentages compared with the assumed performance.
  • Possibility to send shift reports by e-mail
  • Presentation of other key performance indicators (KPI), depending on the customer’s requirements

THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF MLRD is to provide the operators and line managers with insight on what’s happening on their production lines in order to increase the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). Implementation of the system significantly improves the comfort and productivity of line operators. Operators and line managers can remotely manage their operations and diagnose the causes of process downtime and delays.

  • Remote control of the line operators work
  • It provides a real-time picture of production line performance – identification of risks of delays in the production process
  • The diagnostics function makes it possible to identify the causes of downtime and bottlenecks and thus provides the possibility to plan actions and optimise production.
  • It informs the operator about errors and alarms, thus enabling a quick response.
Robotics Integration and End-of-Line Automation

The final stage of the production process is packaging the products into a secondary packaging. Like each of the earlier stages of production, the palletizing stage is also time- and labour-consuming. Bearing in mind the increasing demands of consumers and problems with finding employees, we also offer our customers solutions, which automate this stage of production.

Special palletizing robots take over the human role in packing and placing goods on pallets. Among the most important benefits the company achieves after implementing this solution are increased process efficiency and greater accuracy and repeatability of operations. Growers’ biggest problems consistently are seasonal production and shortage of employees – our proposed solution minimizes those issues.

Benefits:

  • Labour savings – the Customer replaces people with robots or can move them to more added value tasks
  • Nowadays it is more difficult to find people for physical work in hard conditions – People don’t have to lift heavy cartons, and robots are more resistant to low temperatures in the packhouse.
  • Repeatibility of the process – lower risk of human error and thus the claim for wrong packing format
  • Higher throuput of the packhouse – with end-of-the line automation you can pack more with less people increasing the sales capacity.
Custom Applications and Control Cabinet Prefabrication

We implement automation projects according to the customer’s requirements and needs. We are close to our customers at every stage of cooperation. Good communication is the key to creating a top quality solution. Our projects are tailored to the current needs of the client. We understand our clients’ goals and concerns. We are their partners. We can listen to them, but can also correspond and convince them about the best solutions. We focus on the quality and functionality, because a well-designed and manufactured control system will ensure trouble-free operation, reduce downtime and minimise potential risks as far as possible.

Case Study

UK Fresh Produce Packer

Business context

The customer’s business is to pack and repack fresh produce for leading UK supermarkets. The production is characterized by short production runs which results in multiple line changeovers during the day.
Furthermore the Customer is challenged by lack of skilled line managers/operators and is seeking to optimize their time.

Our company supplied tomato weighing equipment with conveyors and Line Control system. The Customer requested us to manage the integration with 3rd party labelling and tray sealing equipment.

Scope of Services

  • Integration of the entire tomato packing line within one Line Control System
  • Management of the communication between all elements of the line including 3rd party equipment
  • Providing remote access to the machine HDMI
  • Installing Global E-Stop for entire line to ensure safety of the production process
Benefits

  • More time for operators – 1 line operator can efficiently manage 2 lines
  • Faster identification of the stops in order to reduce the downtime
  • Enhanced product protection due to upstream and downstream communication between the machines
  • Quicker changeover time between production runs
  • Compliance with machine safety regulations
    OEE improvement

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