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Process ‘intelligence’ means better products

28 June 2010

Geo-textiles manufacturer, Tensar International will be among the first to tell you that a first class data collection and asset management system is the key to consistent, high quality production. Systems integration partner, Optima Control has recently helped the company to achieve this all-important goal on production processes at its Blackburn plant

Blackburn based Optima Control Solutions’ managing director, Michael Hill, believes that suppliers of machine control systems to both OEMs and end users must measure success by analysing the effect on the customer's operating efficiency. Infoserve365, an operating division of the Optima Group specialising in data collection and asset management systems, recently demonstrated this philosophy when it undertook a process improvement project for client, Tensar International – another Blackburn based business.

Tensar is a world leader in the manufacture and provision of soil reinforcement and ground stabilisation products for the construction industry. During a recent review of its geogrid manufacturing processes, the company invited Infoserve365 to come in and suggest ways of improving operations through better access to the process parameters.

Tensar’s main facility in the UK is at Shadsworth Industrial Estate, just three miles from InfoServe365's headquarters at Capricorn Park. But it was reputation, not distance that the former had in mind when it appointed its Blackburn neighbour to upgrade the data collection system on a single-axis stretching process involving steam heated rollers. The target was to improve the performance of this process, and accurate data collection was deemed vital in order to achieve this.

The solution was to retrofit the existing installation with a fibre-optic network - a potentially tricky installation because of the different technologies involved and a client stipulation that downtime be kept to an absolute minimum. In the end, the InfoServe365 system was successfully integrated, giving Tensar all the intelligence and toolsets it needed to monitor the machine’s operations via a web browser. Very little onsite IT input was needed.

The success of this installation meant Tensar had no hesitation in returning to InfoServe365, this time calling on the company to provide input on a full line control system upgrade on its bi-axial-stretching machine. This unit is responsible for the production of Tensar’s renowned bi-axial and ‘triAx’ geogrid products, which were famously used to shore up Workington's Northside Bridge after it collapsed during the floods in Cumbria in November 2009.

InfoServe365's management tools have now given Tensar complete visibility of its manufacturing processes and easy access to data for analysing and improving processes, resulting in tighter control of product quality and consistency, as well as significant improvement in overall equipment effectiveness. Tensar's process engineering manager, Andrew Curson, takes up the story.

"InfoServe365 offered a very affordable solution which met our budget. They have helped us get a better view of the complex variables that affect our product and given us a clearer understanding of the processes and how they can work better. Optima's engineers have very good core skills and offered excellent support integrating Infoserve365 with our equipment."

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