Case Study: Controllogix Control System Saves Masterfoods 12%

21st February 2014 | Posted by Charlotte Miskell

Masterfoods is a large private company that produces food and produce for some of the world’s most well known brands including Mars, Snickers, Twix, Uncle Ben’s, Whiskas and Pedigree.

The challenge Masterfoods faced involved their flow wrapper, a machine used for the primary packaging of bars in different shapes and sizes. This means product not only require varied packaging film sizes but also different machine configurations, meaning speed profiles require adjustment for all of the servo motors and frequency inverters. A typical flow wrapper has several separate axes and has the potential to process hundreds of snacks per minute.

To ensure this runs smoothly, quickly, flexibly and with maximum efficiency, the correct choice of control system and architecture must be employed. In recent years, the Masterfoods control engineer has explained that a major improvement has taken place on the flow wrapper control thanks to the Allen Bradley Controllogix platform.

Following this Controllogix implementation, Masterfoods realised a considerable amount of savings, as well as the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture providing their system many technical benefits. In light of these savings, Masterfoods then ensured the Controllogix was then standardised for all future flow wrapper machines.

The engineer explained that a the flow wrapper machine requires lots of signals to process extremely rapidly, which is where the Controllogix unit worked wonders – courtesy of its very fast CPU. In Masterfoods’ prior control system, two controllers and very specific hardware were required to capture fast interrupt signals. Their ControlLogix unit does it all with standard functionality, without programming required for communication between multiple parts. All of this means that significantly less space if required to implement the unit, meaning a more compact, considerably less complex system.

Motor Control

Masterfoods noted that the major advantage they saw in this system was the scale to which it could be integrated. Both motor control components and variable speed drives, for example, are driven by modular local networks and controlled through the Logix operating system. A personal computer can then be used to to program all the granular components.

Speaking of the ease of integrating software, the engineer at Masterfoods said: “When the operator of a flow wrapper needs to change the configuration because another product variation is to be packaged, he or she can now just select a ‘wrapping recipe’ from the menu. A key element in this is the tight integration of controls, motion and drives. Mechanical configuration is also much easier. Formerly, we had to swap machine parts if we wanted to process different formats, but the system is now much more flexible. It’s also easier to integrate the wrapping process within the overall chain of production and secondary packaging.”

In conclusion, the installation of Allen Bradley products have been extraordinarily cost-effective for Masterfoods. Overall system costs have dropped thanks to 7% savings on hardware costs and 5% savings on manual work e.g. 6 days of installation were saved solely down to the fact that less wiring was required inside the control unit cabinet and of the machine itself. Testing and tuning were also shortened, by two person-days out of 10.

Controllogix Control System

At Proplas we supply a range of Allen Bradley Controllogix Control System solutions and parts. Amongst our huge array of products in stock is the Controllogix 1756-A13 – featuring a high-speed communication path between modules via the backplane and slot guides and snap-in retention for easy and secure fit for any type of 1756 module, this component  accommodates direct mounting for any 1756 power supply.

Allen Bradley control systems set the benchmark. From the original Programmable Logic Control designed more than 30 years ago to current technology such as Programmable Automation Controllers. There are several types of controllers and Controllogix components to suit all needs. For more information on how these products can work wonders for your application, contact us via our online enquiry form.


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