Benefits in Black and White

World-leading Ilford Photo chose PlantRun to track their 35 mm film productionIlford casette

Now that everyone with a smartphone has a camera in their pocket, you might find it surprising that black and white film is still being made in the UK. Harman Technology manufactures the ILFORD PHOTO brand and is the only manufacturer in the world to provide a full range of black & white film and darkroom products.

The manufacturing process for their black and white film uses complex, aging machinery and when the company looked to improve production efficiency, rather than upgrade it they chose to install a PlantRun System from Tascomp of Billingham.

Harman’s Senior Design Engineer, Adam Marsland, sums up his company’s requirement…

“Here at Harman Technology Ltd, we wanted to automate the gathering of performance data on our automated cassette line. The line consists of ten unique interdependent pieces of equipment that each had its own rudimentary data log. Piecing together the performance data of the whole line was a laborious, labour-intensive task that often struggled to pinpoint the asset responsible for periods of lost time. We needed a system that could interface with all the equipment simultaneously and make intelligent decisions about the root stop causes, along with product and material data that might contribute to downtime trends.”

And PlantRun does just that. Based on four decades of software and hardware development it enables manufacturers to maximise output capacity and for just a fraction of the cost of buying new equipment.

PlantRun continuously monitors all of the assets that make up the line that spools film into the 35mm cassettes, and provides real time production data, reasons for stoppages and key performance indicators including OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness).

Using its standard tools, PlantRun can combine automatic measurements with manual entries and eliminate the need for paper-based data collection. Minimising lost production and understanding the reasons for stoppages is crucial to improving manufacturing efficiency. Adding custom rule-based logic to automatically determine which part of the line was the root cause of each stoppage means it could be set up to match Harman’s requirements perfectly.

When asked why Harman chose PlantRun, Adam commented…
“We chose the PlantRun System because of its wide capacity for integration with all our equipment and what seems like an endless scope for customisation.
Its ability to automatically assign stop reasons to periods of downtime by logically interrogating the line assets has helped us pinpoint our biggest losses and increase productivity whilst minimising the need for operator input.”

The system was fully integrated so when Harman’s planning system generates Works Orders, they are automatically made available to the operators on the shop floor. Touchscreens deployed at key locations on the line make the operator interactions and experience as straightforward as possible.

“One of the biggest factors in our decision to work with Tascomp was the open nature of the software, which meant that after some Developer Training, we could add and modify signals, data and reports ourselves, to adapt to changes in production and to focus on new areas as we narrow down on performance losses. Until you start really digging into the data, you just don’t really know where it will take you, so the ability to continually adapt as you learn through the system is vital.”.

Based on the benefits that Harman have already gained, they are now planning to expand the system to the previous stage of the production process – the line that forms the cassette bodies.
Adam concluded…

“Working with Tascomp to realise our vision for a bespoke OEE reporting system has been a pleasure. The finished product goes above our expectation with fantastic ideas flowing from their team’s experience and passion to get the very best out of the system.”

PlantRun is used across all manufacturing sectors and with users reporting a payback of just weeks or months it offers a highly cost-effective way of improving operational efficiency.

The benefits are in “black and white”.    Visit the Harman Technology web site.
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