System Integrators

Packaging automation integration advice from Stone Technologies

Packaging, records, raw materials, were updated and integrated and automated across eight facilities.
By Robbie Kerfoot October 8, 2019
Packaging, conveying, printing, and palletizing were integrated with networking, controllers and human-machine interface in an eight-facility project. Hardware, software, and communications integrated with various local and enterprise resource planning solutions. Courtesy: Stone Technologies

Automation and controls can help packaging implementations, and Stone Technologies offers advice by answering questions from Control Engineering.

Question: Can you please describe the packaging-related project?

Answer: This project consisted of hardware, software, and communications with various local and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to ensure that finished goods from eight productions facilities located throughout North America were automatically labeled for distribution, all raw materials accounted for, and records updated for track and trace purposes. At the local level, we directly interfaced with the existing packaging equipment to ensure the accuracy of automation was leveraged to decrease any human data entry errors.

Q: What was the scope of the project and goals?

A: The client’s goal for the project was to standardize end-of-line (EOL) labeling/reporting across a variety of its sites.

Q: What types of automation, controls, or instrumentation were involved?

A: For this project, we provided some new hardware (labeling equipment and servers), wrote the interface coding that was required to interface between the new hardware and the existing control systems, and in multiple cases modified the existing control system to be more efficient due to the new systems put in place.

Q: What were particular challenges outlined in the project?

A: One of the largest challenges was working with a corporate team to develop the solution then deploy that solution to a variety of local sites that each had its unique obstacles to overcome while still achieving the corporate team solution.

Q: How were those issues resolved?

A: The key to overcoming this particular challenge was ensuring all expectations of stakeholders, both corporate and local, were always communicated, discussed, and resolutions derived early when there were differences.

Robbie Kerfoot is client engagement manager with Stone Technologies Inc. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Packaging automation, case study

Track and trace consistency across eight production facilities was needed.

Hardware, software, and communications, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions were used.

Records needed to be updated, raw materials accounted for, and track and trace implemented, while integrating with existing packaging equipment.

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Robbie Kerfoot
Author Bio: Robbie Kerfoot is client engagement manager with Stone Technologies Inc.