Flying Changeover

Konolfingen in Switzerland. Home to Nestlè’s Competence Centre for infant and health foods. As part of a comprehensive facility expansion project, Krones was given full responsibility for installing two identically designed filling lines to handle special powdered milk for baby food. This overall responsibility, however, was not restricted to the machinery being deployed and its technical harmonisation, but also subsumed the IT used for optimising the lines concerned – a complex task involving the coordination and integration of all machines and the associated software.

In each of the two canning lines and the two pouching lines, Krones installed an order management system and a line documentation system, each of which exchange data with Nestlé’s superordinate MES (Manufacturing Execution System). One of the major challenges involved was to coordinate the large number of machines from other manufacturers (OEMs) and to support them in providing the requisite data. Here, Nestlé quite deliberately put its trust in Krones as the sole interfacing contractor, and in our filling and packaging competence, thus avoiding any interfacing problems in the event of faults or defects. Krones IT-S was thus not only the supplier of the package concerned, but also the consultant when it came to the challenges involved in terms of filling and packaging technology. This successful consultancy work has already contributed towards follow-up orders from the Nestlé Group.

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Nestlé’s specific IT concept: what’s behind it?

Krones has developed and technically executed an IT concept specifically tailored to the client’s requirements, designed to ensure maximised availability for the machinery involved. In addition, implementing a high-performance order management capability has ensured that rejects are minimised and that operator prompting is efficient and at the same time easily comprehensible. All of the Nestlé Group’s standards have been complied with, of course, e.g. the requisite OMAC standard (Open Modular Architecture Controls).

This high-performance solution is based on a Wonderware platform. Nestlé’s MES manages the entire content concerned, with the order-specific parameters involved in each case. Krones IT-S implemented the requisite interface to the order management system all the way up to the MES, for example, enabling the order parameters to be distributed to the individual machines on the shop floor, the machinery level. Krones is thus responsible for visualising the parameters, for the current orders, and the following order inside the line, and simultaneously responsible for the plausibility checks, These verify whether the right program numbers have been set at the individual machines, and in the event of discrepancies the operator will be requested to carry out appropriate remedial action.

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Functionalities and advantages in detail

The order management system offers a series of interesting functionalities. A container infeed system geared to precise target quantities saves both material and time. Container-accurate production ensures that in the case of an order with a specified target quantity of 10,000 cans, precisely these 10,000 cans will be produced and container/product infeed will then be promptly halted. Tank-accurate production runs on the same principle: here, the line continues to run in production mode until the powder tank has been emptied completely. The “Midnight Change-over” function provided ensures that the date labelling on the can is identical to the subsequent dating on the carton when the date changes at midnight. For flawless labelling with subsequent automatic text monitoring, different printing systems have been integrated. Ultimately, the individual operator is supported and guided in his/her daily work, which raises the internal production operations to a maximised level of efficiency.

“Flying Changeover”

One of the real highlights, however, is the subsequently implementedbatch change on the fly”. Before this was introduced, Nestlé had always been compelled to run the entire production line empty – with concomitantly high losses of time and production output.

Now that this specialised solution has been enabled, a small gap between two sequential products suffices for automatically changing over the parameters at the correct moment at the machines involved, and for logically separating the two orders concerned. This means that a scenario where two orders are active simultaneously on the same line is common practice. With direct effects on both the time and the costs involved.

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Up to 2 hours saved each day

The holistic solution is supplemented by a high-performance production data acquisition system (Line Documentation System – LDS), which is used not only to visualise the line, but also to let Nestlé reap the benefits of efficient malfunction cause analyses and reader-friendly reporting. “Nestlé’s decision to have Krones execute part of the MES/IS has really paid off”, says Hans-Joerg Weisskopf (Project Manager MES/E&A, Nestlé AG, Switzerland). “This has saved us a lot of time, and we have profited throughout from Krones’ long decades of experience in the field of filling and packaging. We now possess a system that enables us to obtain a whole series of additional, data on specific machines.”