Smart Factory Unit

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Use of automation products in industry to improve manufacturing efficiency.

Van Genechten Packaging is a carton board packaging company from Belgium. Since the 2013, company's IT department is implementing Raspberry Pi single-board computers into the production enviroment. At first, the company used custom-developed I/O module, but later, a decision was made to combine it with our UniPi 1.1 control unitThe resulting project was named Smart Factory Unit (SFU).

Specific uses

The system has following parts, each of them having its own specific purpose:

  • SFU energy: serves for power consumption measurement in company's data centers and in the factory
  • SFU thin client: thin client allows access to company ERP system directly from the production facility
  • SFU meteo: monitoring of the enviroment (temperature and humidity) of data centers
  • SFU music: control of the music played at the reception via online user interface
  • SFU counter: reading data from counters on factory machinery
  • SFU loading dock: automatic control of the palette processing and shipping process.

Most important parts of the whole process are SFU counter and SFU loading dock. The former collects readings from sensors and machine production speed calculations (~150 000 pi/h). SFU loading dock is application used for automation of the product loading process. The application monitors loading of palettes into a transporter at the loading gate and also indicates shipment in the cargo bay. Loading dock is also provided with light and sound signalization. 

Company's IT department is also working on "Work in Progress tracking" application. Each palette inside the factory is tagged with an RFID tag and the system then tracks it on its way through the factory with RFID readers. These are connected by the RS485/422/232 - USB connection to UniPi control unit, equipped with . The application also contains sensors for detection of palette height, connected via analog inputs. UniPi itself is attached onto a DIN rail placed in a contro box along with other modules. All data readings (timestamps, pallet height measurements, RFID tag ID codes etc.) are uploaded into the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. 

The detail of a control box

Prepared control boxes

Used serail RS485/RS422 - USB adapter