BW Papersystems’ Falcon Gets an Automation Upgrade

Oct. 13, 2023
To centralize the control and automation functions in an updated version of its Falcon sheeter machine, BW Papersystems used Siemens Sirius pushbuttons, Simatic controllers and Profinet communications.
BW Papersystems, a division of Barry-Wehmiller, is a supplier of industrial paper machines and equipment. The company’s 11 brands are well known in the sheeting, packaging, stationery, book binding, security documents, corrugating and finishing markets.

In 2018, BW Papersystem’s introduced the Falcon, a high-performance, folio-sized sheeter for paper mills. Now in its second generation, the Falcon is fully customizable and designed to handle market-required sizes and paper board grades.

The Falcon combines such components as Jagenberg winders, E.C.H. Will stackers, Bielomatik paper technology and Marquip knife control. Pete Forster, senior controls engineer at BW Papersystems, said this combination of sheeting technologies delivers the industry’s highest levels of folio-sized cut quality, cleanliness and accuracy. The production speed of the Falcon is up to 350 m/min.

“The Falcon is special because it is a full-speed, continuous discharge sheeter,” Forster said.

“Every time it makes a load of paper, the Falcon will not reduce speed to eject the old load. It keeps building, 24/7. When we load new pallets, it continues building stacks. The operators just keep loading paper rolls and pulling stacks off the exit conveyor. It just produces a lot very quickly.”

Pushbuttons, controllers and communication

In 2020, BW Papersystems decided to centralize the control and automation functions for an updated version of the Falcon, sometimes referred to as Falcon II among company employees. David Little, the company’s digital technologies control champion, said the upgrade has brought the Falcon to new levels of efficiency.

“Before we moved from Falcon I to Falcon II, it had two control systems—one for the stacker and the other for the other functions,” Little said. “There was a lot of traffic going back and forth [between the systems]. When that happens, you lose the context. Bringing everything into a single Siemens platform made things much simpler. Now everything, including the stacker control system, is running on the same physical computer.”

The first components used in the upgrade were Siemens Sirius Act pushbuttons. “We call them smart buttons because they use Profinet to connect to the head button,” Little said. “The rest of the buttons on each console are also connected by Profinet cable.”

Sirius Act is a modular system of pushbuttons for front plate mounting and rear-mounted electrical modules. Commanding and signaling devices are connected directly via Profinet to a Simatic S7-1500 controller and HMI devices, including safety functions. Proprietary HMI software is supplied in-house.

By switching from traditional pushbuttons to Sirius Act pushbuttons connected by Profinet, BW Papersystems is streamlining the Falcon production process, said John Walter, BW Papersystems’ senior vice president of global operational excellence. “We save an hour or two per HMI console in wiring,” he said. “Considering there are 10 consoles per machine, and labor comes in at about $80 per hour, this is a significant assembly time and cost savings.”

Little agreed that switching to smart, addressable buttons from an old, hardwired system was a significant labor savings that includes troubleshooting costs. “A lot of times, wiring errors caused very difficult to troubleshoot issues. So this was a big win,” he said.

He added that, because the pushbuttons and other Siemens control products are available around the world and over the counter, field service and repair times have been shortened.

Today, each Falcon control console is connected by Profinet and/or Profisafe to the S7-1500 failsafe controller, as well as compact Sinamics S120 drives with 1FK7, 1PH8 and Simogear motors, Scalance unmanaged Ethernet switches and Sitop standard and uninterruptable power supplies.

Profinet was chosen as the network for the Falcon for its versatility, including the ability to connect the push buttons to high-speed servo drives. Now, BW Papersystems has one network to view all devices and as well as perform diagnostics.

Every component, including a Simatic IPC427E industrial computer and panels, are integrated through Siemens TIA Portal engineering software. This engineering tool reduces the number of tools BW Papersystems technicians are required to learn. It also reduces engineering time and commissioning.

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