U1-2785 Kew Drive Windsor, Ontario

Supplier to greenhouse industry adds automation

Background

As part of an order for fulfillment process a leading supplier to the greenhouse industry which supplied bulk mixtures of fertilizer.

Their existing processing could not fulfill orders in high demand.

Adding to the stress was the fact that the demand was up and they were heading  into peak season.

Review of the project

The client hired ATSi to develop a system that could keep up with peak season demand.

The goal of the project was to successfully keep up with the growing demand and automate an end to end system that would process any incoming orders which could be automatically queued into system and processed with little to no manual interaction.

  • Order for fulfillment system had to be tied into automation
  • System work automatically to fulfill order
  • System must dispense bulk fertilizer accurately and completely, based on greenhouse customer order recipe.
  • System must alert stock driver when order is complete and ready to ship
  • System must also monitor bulk feed hops and alarm when fertilizer is getting low
  • A safety system was a requirement as the facility operators were not accustomed to autonomous equipment.
  • System had to carry a payload of 400 kg.

Review of solution

ATSi Engineers prepared an automation system that was fully programmable.

ATSi Control engineers also designed a motor control system that could monitor the location of the cart and measure the amount of bulk fertilizer being deposited into customer bin.

Engineers also developed the safety system with a safety controller that monitored safety fence and light curtains and disabled all actuators including cart motion.

Challenges

The facility was not accustomed to automatic equipment as they had nothing like this in the plant before.

ATSi Had to educate during launch.

The facility network was outdated And needed to be upgraded. ATSi engineers designed network topology that included the new system.

The facility has existing ERP system For order fulfillment. This software had to be altered to allow for ti-in to the order database, which was used to determine order make up and transfer this data to the system PLC.

End result/solution

ATSi Designed, manufactured and installed a totally automated system capable of meeting all client demands. When peak season hit, the machine performed beyond expectations and instead of struggling to keep up with incoming orders system was able to keep up and free up the burden of laborers that previously had to manually load a container and move the cart to subsequent hoppers to create mixture.

The system also reduced material waste, as the automated dispensing system monitored the displaced cycle and controlled the amount of fertilizer more accurately.