Circuit Design Case Studies

Airlane are specialists in pneumatic circuit design for new projects, process improvements and health & safety legislation compliance. Find out more about our past projects here. To find out how we can help you, visit our pneumatic consultancy page.

How A One Hour Consultancy from Airlane Pneumatics saved a Manufacturing

Company £10,000, and Improved Reliability and Production Uptime.

What was the Problem?

When Faltec, the Sunderland-based manufacturing company was having issues with the production control systems on one of their lines, they reached out to Airlane Pneumatic’s  MD Gary Conlin to come up with a solution to the problem.

The one hour consultancy resulted in Faltec making savings of over £10,000, by changing their proposed control system of choice – formerly a choice of electronic or electro-pneumatic control – to a system that deployed full pneumatic control.

What was our solution?

By using full pneumatic control, this not only kept the integrity, safety and the CE marking of the machine intact, but made the installation and deployment of the control extremely straightforward.

The simplicity and reliability of the system ensured that checking and demonstrating that the machine was working correctly could be done immediately, with no complex procedures involved.

Future-proofing the system was also catered for by using colour-coded pipework, facilitating ongoing tooling changes with simple recommissioning.

To support the project and to ensure engineering changes could be carried out in-house if necessary, schematic drawings of the circuit where supplied to go alongside the machine handbook and operating instructions.

Where?               

After-market filter element manufacturer.

Issue?               

Vegetable oil, although not harmful to health, was used as an aerosol to monitor the filtration level of each product during development and production.  Customer needed to contain the aerosol and provide a more accurate test environment.

Solution? 

Airlane designed and manufactured an enclosure into which the elements were placed, held and tested accurately.

Result?                

No more airborne vegetable oil contaminating the surrounding area.  A stable and accurate testing environment.

Where?

PPG Industries, Shildon, Darlington, DL4 2QP

Issue?

PPG’s Parent company shipped a moth-balled capping machine across from plant in Europe.  The machine arrived with no operating instructions, no circuit diagrams and no idea whether or how the machine actually worked.  The parent company expected PPG to install the machine, connect an airline and begin automatically fitting caps to filled solvent cans.

The machine, obviously, didn’t work.  The control system was an overly complex logic circuit that filled two large enclosures and was impossible to fault trace.  Trip switches were damaged or missing, piping had been removed without identifying where it came from, the emergency stop circuit was damaged and ineffective, vacuum components were missing and actuators were worn beyond use.

Solution?

Airlane took the machine into our workshops, worked through each individual actuators’ motion to fathom out a sequence of operation.  From the new sequence we designed a new control system based around a 3-Group Cascade system of pneumatic control.  These types of circuits are highly reliable and cannot go out of sequence.

Once this was complete we stripped out all of the control logic, removed all pipework, identified and replaced all actuators, removed unnecessary trip switches and replaced all of the trip switches required to run the circuit.  The vacuum generator and cup were also upgraded to give a more reliable service during operation.

We built the pneumatic valves into only one of the two existing enclosures before piping up to the newly replaced pneumatic actuators and trip switches.  Extensive testing of the emergency stop circuit, control sequence and vacuum lift was completed as the machine worked exactly how it was designed to.  Minor adjustments to trip switch alignment and the holding gate set-up ensured that the machine was delivered back to site in full working order.

We included a new circuit diagram and parts list with the machine.

Result?

Machine was delivered, put into production and has ran constantly now for several years without breaking down.

Only glitch?  A trip switch was inadvertently knocked, stopping the machine.  A quick call to us and a check of the control circuit immediately pointed to the culprit.  Once the switch was repositioned the machine worked perfectly again.

Where?

Horizon Products, Blaydon, Tyne and Wear

Issue?

Repetitive Strain Injury risk putting lids onto tins of wax polish.  Alternative solutions, included using rubber mallets, caused damage to tins leading to damaged tins and, subsequently, increased scrap rates and costs.  Production runs were short and infrequent so did not warrant the expense of a fully automated process but something had to be done to ease the operator strain the process generated.

Solution?

Airlane designed a simple semi-automatic pneumatic circuit to operate a single tin lid press.  Utilising the readily available compressed air supply the press was very simple to install or move to different locations to suit the changing production environment.  A very simple trip switch arrangement triggered the guided cylinder to depress the lid.  The cylinder returned automatically after a short time, allowing the tin to be removed and replaced quickly and easily.

By keeping the gap between the lid and the press to a minimum we kept the possibility of operators’ hand entrapment issues to a minimum.

Result?

Removed RSI cause.  Damage to product reduced.  Throughput increased.

Where?

Ravendale Foods, Leadgate, Consett.

Issue?

The filling of pots with goose fat, pork fat and beef dripping was labour intensive, inefficient and unreliable.  Most machinery was of single use design which meant that the production process was highly labour intensive.  As business increased, to keep up with production, a number of old machines were recommissioned but were unreliable and, again, labour intensive.

Solution?

Airlane were called in to evaluate the production process and improve the reliability and efficiency of the existing machinery.  By utilising the customers existing conveyors to help the automation and speed of the process Airlane designed new control systems for each filling station based around the ‘Cascade System’ of circuit design.  These allowed the filling machines to run semi-automatically.  We added features like interlocked gates and product sensors to hold the jars in place, automatically fill to the correct volume and release to be capped, labelled and packed.  The food product hoppers were fitted with remote fill switches that triggered pumps to fill the hoppers from a central storage area.  A multi-head machine with high output was fitted with an automatic level sensor that kept the hoppers filled without the need for operator involvement.

Result?

Increased production.  More reliable machinery reducing downtime.  Reduction in labour costs.

We have also supplied pneumatically operated automatic lid press machinery to further reduce production time and increase efficiency.

We recently completed the installation of the compressed air ring main in the new factory using the Transair aluminium tubing and fittings.  This resulted in a more efficient and leak free airline giving a substantial saving in electricity use from their compressors.