Automated quality sampling to provide significant time savings
Dedienne Multiplasturgy Group, established in 1947, is one of the leading European specialists in the processing of technical plastics, high-performance polymers and composites. It currently employs 700 people in France, Romania and the United States and has an annual turnover of 65M€.
While manufacturing processes are highly automated, quality sampling is still performed manually in the Dedienne factory located in Gétigné, France. Every two hours quality controllers go through the injection molding shopfloor with a trolley and manually pull samples of the product parts. A 250-metre round takes about 30 minutes.
The goal of the L4MS experiment was to automate quality sampling, so that employees can concentrate on the quality control itself and other tasks with added value.
Connection to the ERP to increase OPIL based automation
The French solution provider Still designed a way to replace manual work by an AMR (Automated Mobile Robot) connected to the OPIL framework. Every two hours OPIL calculates the route based on data given by the quality control system and the ERP and sends it to the robot.
At a scheduled time, the robot loads the trolley and starts its round. While the robot is moving, OPIL sends a message to each workstation to get samples ready. When the robot approaches the workstation, it activates a green light via WiFi to inform the operator. The operator pushes a button at the workstation, receives a sample and places it in the trolley. Then the operator pushes another button to dispatch the robot.
At the end of the round, the robot unloads the sample trolley in front of the quality lab and goes to the charger. The quality controllers then take the trolley to their lab and control the parts.
“Besides OPIL framework, we also used Visual Components for 3D simulation to highlight potential problems in the process when automated. It also helped us estimate and demonstrate the time we can save by using a robot,” says Yann Rodrigues, Intralogistics Consultant at Still.
Full return on investment in one year
“We now have a clear vision on which flows we want to automate and which processes will be modified or improved. Based on simulations and tests, we can get a full return on the investment for the quality sampling flow in one year. This investment will be planned for next year,” says Guillaume Dubourg, Group Quality Manager at Dedienne.
Dedienne and Still invested together around 100 days to the experiment, and money was also spent on additional software design and robot rental. The cost of the solution was altogether around 64.000 EUR.
The benefit for the factory is estimated to be:
- time savings of a minimum of 6 hours per day, which is almost a full working day of one employee
- the opportunity for quality controllers to go deeper into root cause analysis which may lead to improvements of manufacturing processes
- improved ergonomics
“For us at Still, the experiment functions as a project reference. With this experience and these tools we can reduce time of evaluation, analysis and simulation and we can attract SMEs by decreasing the cost of consulting,” Yann Rodrigues says.
OPIL modules and other modules used in the Dedienne solution by Still:
- The core of the OPIL platform
- OPIL Task Planner module to calculate the route based on the data from ERP
- OPIL Human Machine Interface to first send tasks manually
- OPIL Sensor Agent Node to manage a warning light and information between operators and the OPIL server through buttons
- 3D simulation tool Visual Components to create a digital twin
Partners in the L4MS experiment:
- Factory: Dedienne
- Solution provider: Still
- Software provider: EWEN Energy
- Robot provider: HMI-MBS