A client in California had purchased a previously commissioned prepeg machine from a manufacturer’s storage, where it had been idle for several years. Pacific Blue Engineering was hired to re-commission the machine, but the initial investigation revealed that an operator interface had not been included in the original purchase. It then became necessary to reverse engineer an operator interface into a new Quick Panel+ Operator Terminal using the existing PLC programs.
The project involved several modifications to the equipment including de-contenting, repurposing of servo drives, integration into additional equipment, as well as making changes to the operating conditions. In addition, the equipment was relocated and reinstalled, which required a lot of wiring that needed to be verified, validated, and corrected. To accommodate requests from the client several programming changes were necessary. The approach that was adopted allowed the client to use the prepeg machine in production, with minimal investment when compared to the purchase of a new machine.
The most challenging part of the project was working with IndraWorks for motion control. This particular program is text-based, not widely used and it is difficult to reverse engineer programming in its’ style. The machine was not purchased with operating manuals so that, without the operator interface it was challenging to establish exactly how the machine operated and what information and tools were needed to run it successfully.
This project, upon completion, provided a functional machine with an operator interface modeled after the other equipment in the facility. With experience, the operators would quickly be able to use the machine to produce a variety of products. The original purchase of the machine included a stacker machine which may be integrated at a later date. It is anticipated that with operating experience additional features will be identified that, if implemented, would help the operators or allow the collection of data for manufacturing metrics.