RF Gevers Sawmill - IS³ - Industry Software Solutions & Support

Optimising throughput and WIP at RF Gevers Sawmill

MANUFACTURING

Goals

  • An accurate, real-time and comprehensive production information system with web access for all qualified personnel

Challenges

  • Having to derive accurate volumetric values from warped timber with variations in timber and sap colour

Results

  • The system cost 25% of that quoted by the original OEM
  • Identification of losses even before cutting the logs
  • Actual losses reduced by more than 6%
  • System payback in two years or less
  • Overall 8-10% improvement in accuracy
  • More choices available to clients
  • Semi-automatic reporting reduced manual reporting
  • On-demand production monitoring is now available anywhere
  • Identification of reasons for stoppages
  • OEE, plant throughput and the identification of bottlenecks
  • Increased uptime

“The true business benefits of the new system only became apparent after its implementation. RF Gevers now have the control over their production process they were looking for but the system is capable of offering them much more in the future.”

Sabin Nair, sales and marketing director for PCS Global

Vryheid, Kwazulu Natal

RF Gevers converts logs into a variety of usable timber formats for industry. But raw timber doesn’t have the predictability of steel or other manufactured materials with the result that wastage is the costly result of non-optimised log cutting due to their variability and other factors.

Background

The previous system at the sawmill was bespoke and consisted of a stand-alone PC with the responsibility of measuring the volumes of the incoming logs. “Something which it was doing quite inaccurately,” says Sabin Nair, sales and marketing director for PCS Global. – the Wonderware-certified system integrator RF Gevers selected for the project. “The consequence was that, because of inaccurate and insufficient information, the cutting machines could not optimise the cutting pattern for the logs which resulted in wastage.”

Any information was only accessible at the lone PC with reports available in PDF format, which weren’t helpful for analysis purposes. “All calculations such as throughput and wastage were done manually and with reports done the same way, there was no readily-available on-demand information or visibility into the plant,” says Nair. “This lack of information also meant that the reason and duration of downtimes (i.e. OEE) was unavailable as was historical data for management reports, trends and analyses.”

To give them the intelligence they were looking for, RF Gevers decided on an industrial IT solution that would bypass all the limitations of their legacy system and give them the required flexibility and scalability they would need in the future.

This led them to draw up a list of objectives that included:

  • Accurate reports to calculate plant throughput and ultimately recovery and wastages.
  • On-demand, real-time reporting with web-based management access to production data
  • The availability of historical data for analysis purposes
  • Plant visibility from a central SCADA system
  • No software installed on clients – which meant “thin” clients for centralised software maintenance
  • A customisable and expandable solution
  • The identification of plant bottlenecks.

This would mean choosing an integrated solution that would comprise HMI/SCADA, web information portal and historical data components while providing the flexibility and scalability required. “Wonderware’s System Platform, InTouch SCADA/HMI, Historian Server/Client, Information Server and DA Server satisfied all these requirements perfectly,” says Nair.

Implementation

The implementation was done between December 2015 and March 2016 with the old system running in parallel for comparison. “System Platform was used as the integrating central hub with InTouch used to visualise the real-time process information while thin clients were deployed in the field,” says Nair. “But once management saw what was possible, more and more requests were submitted for a variety of different and customised reports.”

PCS Global used an integration algorithm to calculate more accurately the volume of the incoming logs. Together with laser sensors in the cutting section, this provided a far more accurate picture of what was coming in and what was going out.

“Warped timber created reading problems as did variations in timber sap and colour,” says Nair. “Oddly enough, the new system proved to be too accurate and highlighted far greater losses than were previously thought. So, the process was improved before the first reports were issued to management. The Historian Client / Excel plug-in tool made it possible to pull information into Excel for analysis. This proved to be an extremely useful feature as it presented information in a familiar form to existing users.”

Results

  • The system cost 25% of that quoted by the original OEM
  • Identification of actual losses even before cutting the logs due to better log volume calculations
  • Actual losses reduced by more than 6% – this alone means a system payback in two years or less
  • Overall 8-10% improvement in accuracy
  • Better cutting patterns on the smaller logs improved recovery and made more log classes available to clients
  • Semi-automatic reporting reduced manual reporting
  • On-demand production monitoring is now available anywhere
  • Identification of reasons for stoppages
  • Information is now available for OEE calculation, plant throughput and the identification of bottlenecks
  • Increased uptime due to predictive maintenance
  • Universal solution allows for expansion based on infrastructure upgrades

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