Testing a new system or a new machine is an art. It requires experience and method, because we must remain in a perfect balance between speed and precision. In this article we explain how you can reduce testing times by 30% avoiding future problems.
We know, by experience, that speed is important: you are almost finished paying the new machine and you can’t wait to start it to speed up the business and earning money from the big investment you’ve made. But you would never want a superficial job caused by hurry, right? Because you know this would mean exposing yourself to future problems, with significant headaches and money losses.
The more things you leave without trying or feeling bad, the more the chances of a plant shutdown increase.
The golden rules for certain testing times and good works
Testing means trying all the parts of the system and machines, both from a mechanical and electrical point of view and of course from the software one.
There is really no more important part than the other. You have to try everything and do it methodically. But to have certain testing times and works done in a workmanlike manner we reveal to you what you should (or shouldn’t) do.
Watch out for the “turnkey”
Each additional test day has a considerable cost, between lost production and daily technical costs.
This is why many customers ask for “turnkey” formula, thus thinking about saving on these costs: you pay a fee when you sign the contract and everything that happens is included and you don’t have to pay anything else.
Unfortunately, you need to know that it doesn’t work that way.
If you have chosen the wrong supplier or you do not know how and what to check during the testing of your system, you may find yourself in a situation even worse than the test paid per day.
This is because if the supplier is not specialized and / or is not an expert in the type of process to be checked, he may have estimated a number of days not sufficient to do all the tests.
His problems, you will say.
Really the problems are yours too, because once he realizes the error, it will try to do as quickly as possible to limit the (its) costs. And what do you think is the consequence? He will omit to do some tests.
Even just an untested sequence (maybe because it is similar to another), may cause a system stopped due to a trivial typing error in the software. It also happens to the best.
So what’s the solution?
The solution, once again, is to rely on expert companies in what you do, which can prove to you that you have a great experience.
More experience equals greater ease in finding problems and less time needed to solve them.
Your electrician, who will also be very good, is certainly not an expert in rubber or plastic systems. Perhaps, he did a job similar to what you ask him but maybe ten years ago and for another sector.
Do your part …
It will surprise you to discover that even relying on the best is not enough. You also need to know what to check and how to do it to have certain test times and good jobs.
Regardless of the supplier, even if it is the best known on the market, you must expect to see the program in simulation at least a month before the test.
This is because, in doing so, you will immediately realize several things:
- If the supplier has actually completed the software, avoiding the surprise of seeing the technician finish it at the construction site;
- If the supplier knows the process and has included everything that can serve you; otherwise you would be forced to make him make changes during testing or, worse, later;
- If, even for your fault or error, there are changes to be made to improve the process or perhaps you need a particular function that was not initially requested or planned;
- If you like the software and it is simple enough to manage.
In short, you have to spend the right amount of time to check the program: the more the program is tested and matches what you need, the faster the testing will be.
… And do it with a proven method
MyFlexPlan is our innovative system for the realization of automation programs for rubber and plastic systems.
Since we created our MyFlexPlant system, we are not only able to guarantee effective testing days, but also to reduce testing times by 30% on average compared to our competitors.
But how does it work and above all, how can you apply it to testing other machines not managed by our software?
It is actually very simple.
Working always and only in a few specialized sectors and knowing very well the plastic and rubber production process, we have developed standard powerful and super-tested modules.
There is a module to manage the dosing belts; one to manage manual scales; another for those that load granules or dust through pneumatic transports and so on up to cover the entire production line, mixers and extruders included.
These modules are connected to each other by the main system and can be added or removed even after commissioning.
The result is a modular software that is 80% functional when it is finished being configured because it is based on already tested modules.
The work of the technicians will be to complete the remaining 20% with the personalized management of the utilities, any customizations or peculiarities of the plant and the complete test of everything realized.
There is no software (but not even an electrical panel) delivered if it has not been fully tested in our offices, here in Multi Data.
And that’s where you come into play.
We try everything, but we expect the customer to come and see the software in person while we test it.
When the tests begin at the construction site, you must verify that they are carried out according to the following schedule:
- Test of all electrical and mechanical components;
- Test of all movements and sequences WITHOUT product;
- Test of all sequences with product.
Test of electrical and mechanical components
This test is used to check that there are no trivial mechanical or electrical errors: do not take for granted the fact that if 30 valves are well wired, the 31 is well wired as well. You expect to see the sheet that the technicians use to mark the items already tried and those that still have to be. If this sheet does not exist, check how they make the tests.
Test of sequences without product
The test of the sequences in theory is a formality if you have had the opportunity to test the program in the office; nevertheless it is very important.
When you simulate the plant or the machine, you can’t know if any sequence or movement is not synchronized in the right way. This is because with the simulation the answer you get at the software level and almost always goes well. Everything is different in the field.
You have to pay attention to particular noises of the pneumatic air used for transport or air puffs caused by an incorrect opening of the valves, to give examples.
Test of sequences with product
The last test is the most important one. If you have entrusted the design and construction of the plant or machine to a professional firm, it is at this stage that their technicians will demonstrate their experience by adapting the software and the mechanics to obtain the best performance of the plant or machine.
Just think about testing an internal mixer: without a product, it’s always good, but it’s when you need to make your compound that it’s important to know how to improve the whole.
At this stage the only important recommendation we want to give you is to really try every case with as much material as possible.
Probably the material will not be good and everything will be discarded. But really to save 2 or 3 thousand euros of raw material you want to risk the quality of a job that, if not done in a workmanlike manner, could cause you much more serious problems and much more expensive to solve (and without anyone with you to help you)?
Finally, it is essential to do a complete staff training. The half day of the last test day is not enough. We need to dedicate the right time. And the more complex the system or the machine, the more time you should give your operators and technicians to become familiar with the system.
If you don’t, the first few months will be a nightmare.
One last tip. If the automation company has finished the famous days included in the contract and the work is finished for them, it is a pleasure to pay 2 or 3 extra days so that they are with you to see some production.
If they have worked well they will not have much to do, but they will give instructions to the operators and make them confident; while if they have missed something they will immediately notice it and solve the problem before it is too late.
Do not understimate the quality of assistance
For all these operations, Multi Data has developed a testing method based on twenty-five years experience. We follow exactly the lineup that we have indicated to give you a truly tested and ready to produce plant.
For this reason, our tests have a reduced duration compared to our competitors but with a guaranteed result.
And what if some problems remain?
You must expect to have remote assistance with the automation offices, and you must expect maximum response times in the event of problems.
It is not correct to wait 1 day with the plant stopped because whoever has tested everything now is in China to do another job, do you think?
We guarantee maximum response times of 2 hours, but in 99% of cases within 10 minutes we have a technician ready to connect.
We can do this because we only deal with a few specific sectors and all our technicians know perfectly the plastic and rubber production process.
Moreover, thanks to MyFlexPlant, the software is made with the same criteria by all our technicians and therefore each of them is perfectly capable of getting their hands on it as if it were the programmer who tested the system.
There would be much more to look into, but the basic rule is always to rely on specialists. And we are the specialists in the rubber and plastic sector.
If you want to know more or if something is not clear to you, contact us: we will be happy to give you all the information you need.
Call +39 059 537902 or fill out the form on the web www.multidata.it