Project Description

Wireless technologies have revolutionised manufacturing. Electronic tags coupled with production databases mean that detailed information about a product and its specific production-line parameters can be available in an instant.

The Project

At the time of the project, workers on this product line manually filled figurine mould casts using an expensive resin compound. They might over- or under-fill the moulds, resulting in splashing and wastage.

The resin compound is an irritant, prior to chemical reaction with the hardening agent in the mould, and can provoke an allergic reaction after long-term exposure.

Our client, a leading manufacturer of role-playing games, wanted to reduce wastage and employee exposure to this resin compound.

They needed a solution which would automate the cast moulding process on a specific figurine line.

Our Role

We worked in partnership with Ethical Solutions, an innovative firm specialising in bespoke casting and moulding systems, to develop an automated RFID-based dosing system for the moulds.

Using  integrated logic controls and the associated higher-level software logic, we automated Ethical Solutions’ mechanical spin-cast moulding machinery and resin pump system. We modelled the new system, from the top-level business processes and objectives all the way down to the production line operatives’ process interactions.

Each mould station on the line could identify the mould type using an RFID tag in the mould and pump the exact amount of resin and hardening agent into the mould from a dedicated tank and pumping system.

An end-of-dosing sequence was put in place to keep the nozzles clear and ensure the smooth operation of the system.

Resin and hardener levels, ratios and temperature were continuously monitored within the system.

Alarm events could be raised to the appropriate authority when alarm conditions occurred.

We made real-time production and management information, with different data views, available to both the factory and management.

We undertook the full software life-cycle development of the system, including a clean integration of the system within the existing infrastructure at the end.

The Technology

We developed the ladder logic for the PLC controlling the production system.

A C#/.NET graphical Windows application interfaced with the PLC using Open Platform Communications Data Access (OPC DA), and an SQL Server database containing mould recipes and the unique RFID tag details of resin dose and cast cycle.

The Benefit

The solution revolutionised the client’s production of moulded figures. Our software has resulted in:

  • greater throughput
  • consistent quality
  • a reduction in the wastage of the raw materials to almost nil
  • higher re-use of the moulds
  • lower management overheads, with up-to-date production and management data from the factory floor
  • ease of use by production staff, and a reduction in the number of production line operators required to achieve a production target

Subsequent returns on investment positively impacted the business overall in terms of:

  • supply chain planning, and
  • greater synchronisation of business and production targets, allowing the business to react quickly to peaks in demand

What our client said

“James and his team at LeoTel were brilliant, going above and beyond when we needed someone to work with us on an electronics and software solution to provide a bespoke highly-accurate liquid dosing and spincasting mould production line.

This was a turnkey system, so selecting the right people to work with was fundamental to this being successful, and the results were stunning. The new system delivered immediate returns to the client, both in terms of production throughput and in minimising raw materials wastage to almost nil.

Following the exceptional abilities of LeoTel with that project, we have continued to work with them on further machines and systems.”

— Ewan MacPherson, Technical Director – Ethical Solutions Ltd

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