New partition wall production lines with different automation and capacity levels
Different market areas mean different precast needs, and the natures of our customers’ businesses vary a great deal. Depending on the required level of automation or the optimal production capacity, there are three technology levels to choose from. A production line can now be designed for any investment size, due to easy and profitable manufacturing of the partition wall at either the SEMI, PRO or EDGE technology level. “A good starting point is often the PRO line. There is always a possibility to upgrade with new features and modules”, says Product Manager Jani Eilola from Elematic.
The SEMI line incorporates automated key processes with a capacity of 80 square metres per hour, and is operated by five to six operators. The PRO line has a higher automation level and has the capacity of 100 square metres, requiring personnel of two to four persons. Top-rate automation of the EDGE line allows a capacity of 120 square metres. The line can be operated with only two operators
Cutting the assembly time in half
Due to the numerous options to choose from, the production line can be equipped according to any need. Certain parts of the Acotec line can be prefabricated. The smart manufacturing process combined with an assembly time shortened by 50 per cent to just one month – primarily due to new automation technology – makes the new Acotec line appreciated by the leading precasters around the globe. “The quick commissioning gives our customers the competitive edge they are looking for”, says Eilola.
Improved safety and reliability
Improvements on safety and reliability have been introduced throughout the production line. Safety sensors and light curtains have been added. High-level reliability has been considered in, for example, conveyors and plate handling.
A remarkable improvement made possible by the modern automation system is that the pace of the plate handler can be speeded up. Developing this earlier challenging work phase has raised the capacity of the whole production line. “All in all, the level of automation is very high”, says Eilola.
Diagnostics and reporting made easy
One of the most important customer benefits of the new Acotec line is the bus technology with comprehensive diagnostics and reporting features. The new automation technology enables easy access to accurate data from the system, makes locating and correcting a possible process fault faster, and offers the possibility to run reports from the system.
The reports include information on the amount and weight of finished product types, mass used, and the hours of operation of the modules in the product line. The information gathered from the process can be utilised, for example, in successful preventive maintenance.
Technical challenges solved
“With the PRO line as a starting point, it was an interesting challenge to design the more basic SEMI line, a choice for precasters starting up the business. With the customers’ best interest in mind, the restacker, for example, was kept automated. Combining the restacker and the plate handler into one module in the SEMI line lowers the required investment cost, but keeps the capacity at a sufficient level.”, says Eilola.
The cost of a SEMI production line equals about 75 per cent of that of a PRO line, but the core of the line is still automated.
User experiences to the design table
“The design process of the new Acotec line with the three technology levels began with going through all of the feedback and development ideas received from customers”, says Chief Engineer Heikki Lehtonen from Elematic. The collected data was analysed and used as a basis for the changes and additions in the design of the production line. One of the greatest challenges was to get the same primary components, such as an extruder, saw and stacker, to suit lines with different automation and capacity levels. “Different design options were compared to each other. The best option was chosen according to the appropriate combination of operability, productivity and cost level”, says Lehtonen.
The Acotec production line can now be designed for any investment size.