Design and Build Case Studies

Our control panels are built in-house to your specification. This page showcases some examples of our previous work. To find out more about this service click here.

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?               

Tube drawing, grooving, finishing and handling equipment manufacturer.

Issue?             

Part of plant needed to accurately load copper tubing into a forming machine and hold it there during the forming process.

Solution?

Airlane designed and manufactured both holding & lifting fixtures and the feeding unit as one integrated package.

Result?                

Fully automated, stable loading fixture.

Where?      

Polymer Products manufacturer

Issue?            

After 12 months a further part of the batch-processing plant needed upgrading with a new electro-pneumatic control panel.  After the success of the first project, the customer asked Airlane to build two new panels.

Solution?            

Airlane manufactured the new panel to the exact specification provided by the customer.

Result?                

Fully upgraded line meeting both machine reliability and production targets.

Where?               

Polymer Products manufacturer.

Issue?  

A batch-processing machine needed upgrading with a new electro-pneumatic control panel.

This actually started with a call into Airlane enquiring about Univer ISO1 solenoid valves.  The manifold make-up was very similar to a previous manifold we’d installed in a panel for a previous company.  When asked if Lucite would like Airlane to quote for the valves to be built into an enclosure they asked for a meeting to discuss previous work we had done and to go through the specification for their panel.

Solution?

After demonstrating our capabilities, showing we understood the full technical remit of the project, Lucite placed an order for Airlane to build the panel.

Airlane manufactured the new panel to the exact specification provided by the customer.

Result?           

Prior to delivery, the customer visited site to test the panel.  The tests were 100% point to point wiring tests, checked led indicators on the front of the panel lit up correctly, all solenoids operated the valves correctly and that there were no air leaks in the panel.  The panel Airlane built passed all tests 100% first time.

The customer no has a fully upgraded line meeting both machine reliability and production targets.

Where?               

Suspended ceiling grid manufacturer.

Issue?  

Old and worn electric drive units needed replacing as they had worn and their accuracy and reliability had diminished.  This made the production process liable to breakdowns and higher than expected scrappage rates.  A minimum 10% increase in production was required to cover the cost of the investment to upgrade the plant.

Solution?         

Despite having little knowledge of electric drive cylinders Gary Conlin at Airlane had enough knowledge and experience to be able to ask the correct questions about the application and the parameters within which the machine was to operate.  This immediately put the customer at ease, which gave us the opportunity to recommend Parker Origa OSPE Electric drive units coupled with their gearbox, motor and controllers.  With the help of Parker the correct units were specified and supplied.  Airlane assembled the motors and gearboxes onto the linear drive units.  Parker attended site and helped with the initial installation and programming of the control units.

Discussions surrounding shaft-coupling solutions, over travel limits, tolerances and set up parameters were answered to the customer’s satisfaction and the results proven during installation and subsequent production cycles.

Result?                

Highly reliable actuators helped the production process reduce both downtime and scrap rates.  Easily achieved 10% production increase.  Further analysis found that the actuators were operating well within their limits of capability.  After 12 months, we stripped the units out to check for signs of wear and tear.  None found so actuators re-installed.

A further two machines have since been upgraded using the same actuator/gearbox configuration.  None has needed servicing yet and all have operated problem-free since installation.

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?

Brewery, Newburn, Newcastle upon Tyne

Issue?

As beer brews the temperature increases. If it gets too hot the yeast is killed off before the brew is complete and ruins the beer.  This, obviously, results in both wasted time and materials increasing costs drastically.  So controlling the temperature of the brew is of paramount importance

Solution?

The brewing vats had cooling jackets built into them.  These were filled with glycol pumped from a central reservoir.

Airlane designed a new control panel and specified a thermocouple to monitor the temperature.  As the temperature increased the pre-programmed monitor/indicator turned on a solenoid valve, which, in turn, piloted open an angle seat valves to switch on the flow of glycol coolant to reduce the temperature.  When the temperature dropped the glycol flow was switched off.

After the brew was complete the temperature was then allowed to rise to kill off the yeast, finalising the brewing process.

Result?

No wasted beer (Wasted beer?  A travesty!)  Increased production yield.  Reduced costs.

Where?

A Food Packaging Company, 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 was 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.

Where?

Quarry, Coxhoe, County Durham

Issue?

As the abrasive stone material was transferred to the batching plant along steel pipework it caused localised wear of, in particular, a ‘Y’- piece transfer tube.  The tube would invariably fail at the angle where the material was switched from one line to another.  The resultant hole caused loss of product, dust contamination issues and inaccurate batch weights.

Solution?

Airlane designed, manufactured and supplied a new ‘Y’ – piece.  After measuring the original pipework installation and sourcing flanges to match the existing installation we had the new piece manufactured to suit and ensure minimum downtime during the installation.  The original weak point had an additional box fully welded around it.  As the product eventually wore through the original pipework weak point the stone product filled the box forming a barrier inside it against further wear and tear.

The pipework was supplied along with new pneumatically operated knife gate valves to complete the upgrade.  The knife gate valves were supplied with position sensors to give the control room operators feedback as to which valves were open or closed.  If the sensors weren’t signalling as expected it gave the operator some indication as to a fault or problem with the process.

Result?

Wear issues due to the abrasive material eliminated.  No more waste product through holes and more accurate batch weights.  Downtime replacing the pipework also currently eliminated.

Where? 

Bitumen plant in quarry near Bowes, Barnard Castle.

Issue?  

The customer supplies bitumen products to local contractors carrying out major roadworks in the area.  Deliveries need to be very frequent and on time to avoid the possibility of any penalty payments.

The pneumatic control panel that operated the bitumen processing plant is 30+ years old.  The doors of the panel were damaged and open to elements so, in the summer it gets hot and dusty, in the winter cold and wet or frozen.  The control valves are old technology, expensive, on long lead times and difficult to replace.  This made the plant very unreliable and causing damage to very expensive heavy duty cylinders.  These cylinders, again, are on long lead times and difficult to replace easily.

Production loses and possible penalties, due to increased down time, were all too frequent.

Solution?

Modern control panel fitted with smaller, more efficient valves.  The valves are an ISO type valve, so are readily available from numerous sources.  They also had higher flow rates than the older valves, allowing us to use a smaller size.  The valves were a less than a quarter of the cost of the older original units.

The enclosure was kept to the same size as the original to match existing mounting holes.  The panel doors now locked with an IP6:5 rating, stopping the ingress of dust and water.  We included a thermostatically controlled panel heater to prevent freezing during the winter months.

The bulkhead outlets we are also matched to the original enclosure to keep the installation time to a minimum.

Result?

Downtime virtually eliminated.  No nasty bills to repair damaged cylinders.  Cheaper, readily available spares.  Production efficiency improved.

Another two control panels were then commissioned to control other parts of the quarry processing function with similar improvements to plant reliability and efficiency.

Furnace Door Upgrade and Installation

An obsolete Furnace Door Control System needed replacing. Airlane was asked to manufacture and install a modern, robust upgrade. The control system for the furnace door it is operating is now very old, parts are obsolete and the operation is now unreliable. Airlane was asked to provide a modern, robust replacement. Not only were we asked to build a new panel but also remove the old controls and install the new panel. The new panel turned out to be one of five we replaced. Each one fully tested before installation and then the full door operation tested after installation.