The production zones

The production zones

Zone 1: Process automation
Filtering, mixing, temperature control; recording, evaluating and controlling typical process variables such as temperature, level, pressure or flow rate; pumping fluids; shutting off pipelines; installing, commissioning or maintaining butterfly valves, slide valves or ball valves. These are just some examples of the wide variety of possibilities in this section of the training factory.

Specialist knowledge of programming, such as recipe preparation, or of plant documentation, such as reading and drafting R-I flowcharts or EMSR location diagrams are key focus areas in the training. Control technology plays a key role in process automation, in order to ensure high product quality. The processes selected for the training factory and the transparent design of the stations enables control technology to be taught in a practical and visual manner.

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Zone 2: Filling and packing
Not only dosing, filling, capping and packing, but also the acquisition, storage and reliable management of product and quality data are key tasks in this section of the training factory.

Technologies such as RFID are becoming ever more prevalent in the production environment, in order to cope with the continually increasing number of product variants and to comply with the more stringent legal requirements in terms of product quality in the food or pharmaceuticals sector. Full recording of all ingredients or components used and the factors influencing the manufacture of a product must be ensured. Vision and sensor systems also play a key role in improving product quality and production flexibility.

In the training factory, for example, the position and fill level of each bottle and the state of completion of each lot is recorded by various optical sensors and a high-speed camera. The production data can be fully tracked by means of RFID tags in the bottle caps. A range of automation components, such as belts with electric drives, various handling units, programmable logic controllers and the latest operator control and monitoring tools, trainees are provided with an ideal platform to learn these key aspects.

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Zone 3: Production automation
Fast cycle times, part gripping, handling, detection, differentiation, separation and mounting are characteristic features of production automation – the classic world of the mechatronics engineer. Programming controllers, adjusting sensors, operating, maintaining and servicing individual lines in a plant are typical activities.

In the training factory in this section the caps are produced, tested and fed to the bottles by the filling station. Programmable logic controllers monitor and control the production process. Various sensors record the end positions of the actuators or identify and differentiate between the work-pieces. Typical actuators used in production automation, such as linear cylinders, swivel cylinders, motors, parallel grippers or vacuum suction cups ensure fast, precise movement.

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Zone 4: Transport and logistics
Almost all production facilities need logistics functions such as materials transportation or warehousing. At the AFB training factory, too, this is a key aspect: Empty six-packs have to be conveyed to the order compilation station or placed in storage. Completed six-packs are delivered just in time, or stored in an interim facility.

Chaotic or systematic warehousing, optimization of the material flow, planning and prioritizing orders are the key areas of focus in this section of the factory.

Particular demands are placed on line automation in this section too, however:

  • Signals from the transport systems must be sent over long distances to the transport controller.
  • High-performance drive units and positioning systems ensure fast, precise movement in the automatic warehouse.
  • The communications required for this are based on systems such as the AS interface or CAN.