Retrofitted Solvent Coater
As we’ve said before, skids come in all shapes and sizes, for many applications and industries. Take this solvent coater we retrofitted for the New College Institute.
New College Institute wanted to train the local workforce in Martinsville, VA in web handling technology. The local economy was primarily textile and furniture manufacturing related. At the same time, two local film manufacturers, Commonwealth and CP Films, were struggling to have enough qualified resources for their facilities. New College Institute approached Ralph Schultz of Commonwealth to tackle the problem. They determined that a machine was needed to demonstrate the principles of coating and web conveyance (both essential processes in film making), in addition to a classroom setting to teach the principles.
While other companies offered solutions that New College Institute couldn’t afford, Schultz brought in Commonwealth’s longtime supplier, Optimation. Our team was able to offer a creative solution that met New College Institute’s budget constraints.
Optimation’s internal estimates showed that it would be too difficult to build a new machine and meet those budget constraints, and so our team came up with a solution that involved a retrofitted machine, locating a used machine in England that met base requirements. Using our in-house fabrication skill sets, the machine was modified to include a web guider module and a web take-up module, wrinkle module and a traction module.
New College Institute needed the machine to do aqueous coatings; however, the machine was a solvent coater. To modify, our team removed the solvent equipment, rebuilt the coating equipment and brought the machine up to code. Our team used the web conveyance unwinders and added a conveyance teaching module right on the machine, designed as an accessory to be used for teaching.
In retrofitting, we used technology similar to that in both factories so that students could learn they’d be using on the job. All of the old controls were stripped out and new motors and actuators were installed. Software engineers made the GUI screens as similar to the Commonwealth and CP facilities as possible. A Control Logix PLC Processor and Flex IO provided for many of the point connections. The drives were Integrated Power Flex. The main interface was designed using Wonderware, which also included two smaller operator interface units which were Rockwell PanelView Plus. The system has data logging capabilities to use as a part of teaching and record data for future student assessments.
Optimation also offered web conveyance training courses on the retrofitted machine, taught by Optimation’s web handling expert Dr. Kevin Cole. Classes are held on each section of the machine to address various topics. Because the machine is modularized, they can have three classes going on at one time on different parts of the machine. Mounting all of the air systems and skids on the ground level gives students access to the burner controls and air system maintenance and controls, as well as the supporting systems, such as drying, a large part of the coating process.
After retrofitting was completed in Optimation’s shop in Rochester, NY, our team disassembled, crated, and shipped the finished machine down to Martinsville, VA. We put in all of the wiring and connected all of the services for the machine, and oversaw the installation, which was performed by local resources. We also performed the commissioning of the machine, training Ralph Schultz on how to operate the modules.
Optimation continues to provide offsite support as needed. Dr. Kevin Cole continues to teach conveyance principles.