Schneider Provides Interfaces For Nicholl Food

Schneider Electric has supplied its Magelis HMIs to Nicholl Food Packaging after the company recognised the need for open connectivity so that HMIs could be integrated with existing PLCs. Nicholl Food Packaging is a specialist manufacturer of aluminium foil containers and catering disposables for all sectors of the food industry. At its 10-acre Cannock site, production is handled by a large number of electronically controlled presses.

The old HMIs and existing PLCs were installed a number of years ago and because the new HMIs would need to provide the vital control and monitoring capability, they had to be completely compatible with these existing PLCs. It was the need to replace these unreliable HMIs that led engineering manager Joe Taylor to Schneider Electric. 'We were experiencing ongoing problems with failure of our existing HMIs, some apparently caused by machine vibration,' he said.

'We spent a long time trying to rectify the problem but were eventually left with no alternative but to look for replacements. 'A key consideration was the need to integrate the new product with the existing systems and the open connectivity of Schneider Electric's Magelis HMI range met this need,' he added. The Magelis HMIs also offered flexible programming that provided a seamless transition between the old HMIs and the new ones.

'Our previous HMIs had physical function buttons whereas the Schneider Electric products have touch screens,' said Taylor. 'However, we were able to configure the screen to exactly match the layout that our operatives were familiar with, which meant that we did not have the time or inconvenience of re-training to the new models,' he added. Production at Nicholl Food Packaging is organised on a three-shift basis with operations running continuously from 10pm on Sundays to 10pm on Fridays.

Using the Magelis HMI's web-gate feature, Taylor is able to log onto the production system from any computer remotely to monitor operations and check on any faults reported by the system. The Schneider Electric range of Magelis HMIs offers a choice of touch-screen options in panel sizes from 3.8in to 15in. The accompanying Vijeo Designer configuration software enables fast processing of operator dialogue projects developed around six configurable windows, as well as offering comprehensive application management tools.

The Magelis HMIs are said to be providing a reliable service at Nicholl Food Packaging and have reduced downtime. To date, 18 Magelis XBT GT4330 HMIs have been installed, including one that has been built into a machine made at the Cannock site for the company's site in France. Taylor plans to roll out the replacement programme to all 46 of the pressing lines in Cannock.


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