Automated Readings Save Dollars

(Sidebar to "Smart Safety Boosts Productivity" from the April 2007 issue of Automation World)

Productivity gains from safe technology can come from simple improvements such as automating the collection of data. Improvements can also come from using the collected data to show trends that affect plant performance. The C. A. Lawton Co., in De Pere, Wis., experienced both of these gains when it switched to automated collection of pressure data.

The company produces gears and other parts for machinery in the paper mill industry. The company’s casting facility has a dust collection system to regulate air flow. In the past, the company took pressure readings by hand and submitted reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA doesn’t specify how the pressure readings must be taken, but the hand-gathered data was labor intensive and provided little help in predicting potential breakdowns in the system. Plus, the manual data collection was often interrupted by other needs on the plant floor. “Guys would get pulled onto the floor and miss the reading,” says Mark Koza, maintenance superintendent at C.A. Lawton. “We needed a reliable system.”

The company decided to automate data collection using a system of Advantech ADAM modules, supplied by Advantech eAutomation Group, Cincinnati, that measure air flow. “That brings the data online to a computer,” says Koza. “That gives us reliable document readings.” The system also automatically sends the report to the EPA.

In addition to saving on the manual readings, the company benefits from gaining trend analysis. “We can see how each of the blast machines is doing over time,” says Koza. “With that data, we can perform analysis and predict problems. That allows us to do maintenance on down time rather than production time.”

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