RAC drafts in ABB to ease information access

21 May 2008

RAC Autowindscreens has simplified access to production information with a videographic recorder from ABB. At its Chesterfield, UK factory, the SM1000, with batch functionality, has eliminated the need for RAC to sift through paper charts.

When laminating windscreens, part of the process involves placing 270 units at a time into an autoclave and raising the temperature and pressure to 140°C and 11.5bar. The whole cycle lasts around four hours, effectively bonding the layers of glass together to maximise the toughness of the windscreens.

ABB’s batch-enabled videographic data recorders also include a lifecycle analysis function, which can be used to rapidly review records of every separate production process applied to a batch.

With the lifecycle analysis function, users can obtain records for every stage in the production process using ABB’s DataManager data analysis software. The recorder’s batch recording function enables the operator to enter essential batch information that is recorded alongside the process data. The recorded data is then archived for subsequent retrieval, with each batch being tagged with its identification data.

The data is then used by the DataManager software to provide operators with a complete production history for each batch.

Mark Gascoigne, shift manager, said a BSI inspector that visited every three months, had to look through 120 paper charts.

Gascoigne spoke of the new process and said: ‘Now we can just type in the batch number and the data comes up. We only print out the chart for a batch if there’s a potential problem with it.’

Gascoigne pointed out the company could look at data ‘in a new way’ and said: ‘We can pick out the temperature and pressure at any point in the cycle, which wasn’t possible before.’

‘It means we can check things like how long it took each batch to get up to the right pressure,’ he added.

For now, the data is stored on a memory card in the SM1000 before being transferred periodically to a PC. Gascoigne said the company may opt to download data straight to a plant-wide network in future as the site becomes increasingly automated. This would be easy to achieve using an Ethernet connection.

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