Case Studies

Production Line Automation

Customer: Exopack Inc.

Exopack Inc. in Tomah WI produces many types of plastic bags for numerous markets. A gusseted bag produced from pre-printed rolls of plastic stock is one of Exopack’s products.

Project Scope:   The existing bag production was a conglomeration of equipment and islands of control that had evolved into a production line over time. Setting up the line was extremely difficult, time consuming and wasted a lot of stock. Running the line required constant operator attention. Industrial Automation was contracted to automate the line and simplify the bag production operation.

Project Design:  Two Automation Direct PLCs were employed in the production line. A PLC mounted near the stock in-feed end used to control the in-feed tension, the seam forming sealers, and the pleat forming equipment and heaters. Infrared sensors monitor the seal quality and bag temp at various stages of production. The second PLC is located near the gusset and vents forming areas and controls the registration and timing of the gusset and vent forming equipment.  It also integrates the bag seal and cut off machine and handles the exiting bags shingling conveyor. The two PLCs share data via serial communications. Line operation is controlled at two locations via color touch screens.  A 6 inch touch screen is at the in-feed end of the line; this allows limited operation features and monitoring at this end of the line. A 10 inch screen is located near the exit end of the line.  It can control the line and has access to all zone temperatures, feed rates, tensions, and timing variables in the production line. Product variables can be saved in memory and recalled at will.

Project Results: Efficiency, Quality, Productivity

The completed bag production line now operates as one machine. Setup is fast easy and minimal scrap is created. The production line no longer requires constant operator attention and tweaking. The finished product quality is constant and much improved.