Pharmaceutical Bottler Upgrade
The Benicia Branch of Bio-Rad Laboratories operates a monoblock bottling machine for their product (control blood for medical testing). The monoblock was constructed in the 80's with several apparent revisions and additions since then. It contained legacy components, predominantly unlabeled/mislabeled wiring, and no system documentation. The control box for the monoblock contained some controls that required the operator to open the cover and reach into live wire to modify. Function of the monoblock is critical as Bio-Rad must rely on manual bottling should it go down.
To document as-built of the system all wiring for the monoblock was traced. Program settings were recorded from the current OMRON controller and part numbers were obtained. It was found that the controller components were no longer in production. Spares for the controller and accessories were located and purchased from third parties (OMRON Controller, programmer, sensor controller card, program transfer unit, fiber sensor amplifier).
The as-built of the system was evaluated and redesigned to eliminate unnecessary equipment and poor wiring practices. A new control box was designed which organized and moved all controls outside of the control box. Documentation of wire termination and system interconnect was produced to allow future troubleshooting and support.
New system installation began with removal of all wiring and confirmation of the as-built. The mounting panel was then removed, cleaned and re-mounted with the new system layout. Labeled wiring was then terminated and a custom fabricated control box was installed.
Testing and verification included the extraction of the program settings from the old controller and swap-out of the new controller. The program settings were injected into the new controller and tested to confirm functionality. All controls and operation were also tested and verified.
Conclusions and Future Recommendations
Work done for on the monoblock has made the control system supportable and extends the life of the machine. Replacing the old wiring and production of documentation allows troubleshooting and any future modifications. Backups of the program settings and spare controller components will protect against controller failure. Relocating and organizing controls makes operation easier and eliminated the need to repeatedly open the control box to make adjustments and any associated problems.
The monoblock requires considerable adjustments to the mechanical components to operate properly. Even when properly adjusted it periodically crushes bottles scattering glass and sometimes blood. Additional Emergency-Stop pushbuttons can be located around the monoblock to insure one is always within reach of the operator should they see a potential problem. Alternatively, a sensor can be added to the system and control program modified to shut off the monoblock if a jam is detected before shattering a bottle. If the monoblock is to be operated by inexperienced operators CSE recommends some additional protection be added to prevent shattering bottles.