German Manufacturer of Labeling Solutions connects PLC Systems with ERP
The labeling specialist HERMA in Filderstadt, Germany, makes use of direct communication processes between various programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and its SAP enterprise resource planning software (ERP). The company employs inray’s OPC Router for reliable and secure connectability and automation of the entire manufacturing process.
Since 1906 HERMA has produced adhesive labels for industrial and office applications, as well as for domestic use. For years, the internationally successful enterprise has been making use of inray’s OPC Router for controlling manufacturing and packaging processes of adhesive labeling products. A variety of labeling materials, adhesives and backing materials undergo a manufacturing process that in the end result in coated jumbo roles of 2 meters width and twelve kilometers length.
More efficient production and operating data storage
Manufacturing details regarding formulation and production speed are transmitted from the company’s SAP system to the PLC-driven machines via the OPC Router. During production, all flawed areas are identified, and then this data is transferred back to the SAP system with the corresponding roll number. If customer-specific narrow rolls are cut – as additional step in a semi-manufacturing process – the OPC Router passes the information on to the manufacturing station by including the product’s age, feasible processing speeds and various customer-specific order specifications.
Due to the information contained in the data transfer, the machine stops at the flawed areas so that a skilled worker can remove the irregularities one by one. „In the beginning, we started out with simple status requests for machines but in cooperation with inray we were able to change the configuration over the years to totally action-controlled production processes,” explains Hardy Schwenke, project manager for data processing at HERMA, „This is how we control production much more easily and more efficiently. We also have less rejects. Production outages due to systemic problems hardly ever occur anymore either.“
Automated OPC data transfer for transport and packaging orders
If customer-specific packaging and palletizing of ready-made narrow rolls are necessary, a technical co-worker issues a transportation order directly at the roll cutting machine. Via the OPC Router, the system sends a notification that enables the transportation process of the roll via a transportation vehicle to the company’s central packaging station – which is the information point to which all necessary data for automated packaging, palletizing and shrink-wrapping is being sent. An industrial balance is also part of the information network so that the respective weights are also transmitted to SAP ERP, through which the loading papers for further transportation, including possible customs information, are generated.
14 Machines with PLC-to-SAP communication
Overall, the OPC Router interconnects various tasks relating to pre-production, roll cutting and packaging as well as predictive maintenance management. Altogether 14 machines and 35 PLC systems are cross-linked with SAP ERP via inray’s industrial middleware solution. With the OPC Router, short data processing intervals below 15ms allow simultaneous control of all machines. Daily, around 15000 data telegrams are transmitted between systems. All SAP communication is additionally safeguarded by an RFC handshake protocol (i.e. Remote Function Calls). This safety measure confirms successful data transfer, and also identifies information flow interruptions immediately; reports them and then resolves them before any harm can occur. „All OPC Router-based processes are consistently robust and steady”, says Hardy Schwenke., “Implementing phased automation with the OPC Router for better connectability of our production has proven to be successful.”
Predictive Maintenance with ERP-to-machine connectability
Furthermore, information about technical wear and tear via respective measurement points and information about maintenance intervals for operating technology are passed through to the SAP system, via the central interface solution. Based on the provided information, the SAP system identifies maintenance tasks and, where applicable, submits maintenance tickets directly to the respective service technician who can then take up his work immediately. Upon completion, the maintenance status of the respective machine is reset, while the update information is automatically communicated as data transfer to SAP, via the communication platform of the OPC Router.
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HERMA GmbH, headquartered in Filderstadt, is a leading European specialist for self-adhesive technology. In the 2017 financial year, the group of companies achieved sales of around € 342.3 million in three business segments with 993 employees. You can find out more on the Internet at https://www.herma-material.com/