DS Smith in safety push

01 October 2007

At DS Smith Converters’ sheet feeding plant, located in Louth, Lincolnshire, two complete corrugaters produce a range of corrugated board for the packaging market. The automation of a paper reel handling process provided an ideal opportunity to push forward a new approach to safety from Omron.

With the movement of large, heavy paper reels and automatic handling processes, the production area at DS Smith can be hazardous to employees. Therefore, the company decided to follow recommendations from the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) that suggested the use of Electro Sensitive Protection Equipment (ESPE).

Plant operations manager, Neil Osborne, commissioned integrator S Tech UK Ltd to lead the development of a safety system. It needed to allow the free flow of paper reels and the general movement of the automated process, but shut down immediately if an employee mistakenly entered a restricted zone.

Sean Scott, managing director of STech UK, proposed an initial pilot focused on installing a safety system onto one reel stand and contacted Omron.

“Two senior members of Omron’s safety team visited Louth and after a wide-ranging consultation we agreed on the implementation of Omron’s SNC (Safety Network Controller) in conjunction with a dedicated DeviceNet Safety network.” said Sean Scott. The pilot scheme focused on a single reel stand with the installation of an Omron SNC contained in a master control unit. Wiring ran to a local I/O box close to the reel stand and Omron safety light curtains (F3S-TGR-KXC), positioned either side of the conveyor transporting new paper reels into the machine, coupled with the use of mirrors, created a protected area.

During the six months pilot Scott said he noticed many benefits. Omron’s safety curtains had an in-built ‘muting’ facility, enabling a paper reel to pass through the safety curtains, but shutting the system down if an employee passed through.

Once the safety curtains are triggered during automatic machine mode, the safety system needed to shut down the process. S Tech therefore needed to ensure the safety system networked into the wider automation process. DS Smith uses a total of twelve Omron PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) which communicate via a DeviceNet network with the DeviceNet cabling linking to local I/O boxes positioned along the production line. STech used a SNC linked to an Omron CJ1M PLC, which communicated with the wider DeviceNet network. Scott teamed up with Frank Bauder from Omron’s Sensor and Safety business team to integrate the SNC. When an operator switches to automatic mode, the machine interlocking and safety curtain functionality are checked to ensure they are in an active state and if there is any discrepancy the machine will go into emergency mode. At the end of the automatic process, the safety system is deactivated allowing the handler to feed in the next reel.

After the pilot, DS Smith integrated the system to the remaining four reel stands.

Mike Nichols, managing director of DS Smith concludes: “We are not afraid to push for the very best systems in our plant if they support safer, as well as higher quality and quantity of product.”

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