RPC Containers maximizes productivity with Barco Manufacturing Execution System

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Barco, a key supplier of real-time production monitoring systems, is pleased to announce that it has completed installation of the PLANTMASTER Manufacturing Execution System (MES) at the Blackburn site of RPC Containers, Ltd. With Barco's production monitoring solution, RPC Containers can optimize production efficiency and closely monitor product quality.

RPC Containers Ltd, manufacturers of a wide range of moulded containers for the DIY and food industries, turned to Barco when they recently replaced the production monitoring system at their Blackburn site. The factory processes about 5 million components a week on a 24-hour operation, 7 days a week. With such a high volume of components, fine control over our cycle times is critical. It is essential to account for every second with up-to-date, highly visual production information so that we can tackle problem areas as they occur, says John Tyson, Manufacturing Manager.

Our previous monitoring system was ten years old and needed replacing because the technology was becoming old and inflexible. It wasnt a Windows-based system and did not give us the real-time information we needed. Despite employing somebody to interrogate the data, it only gave us a small percentage of the information that Barcos PLANTMASTER Manufacturing Execution System (MES) provides automatically and in real-time. PLANTMASTER also gives us the facility to plan jobs and move them from one machine to another to maximize our productivity.

RPC went out to tender before selecting Barco PLANTMASTER. We evaluated all the production monitoring systems on the market before deciding that PLANTMASTER was the most advanced on offer. At RPC in Blackburn, PLANTMASTER is monitoring 43 injection moulding and 15 stretch blow injection moulding machines, together with a further 16 print and labelling machines. Previously, we didnt have the facility for planning information on the shop floor but now the machine operators can see the number, quantity and tool description of the next five jobs, so that they can be better prepared ahead of the job change, which is highly beneficial, explains Mr Tyson. PLANTMASTER gives us better control of our cycle times than before, which has allowed us to improve our efficiency from 98% to 99%. As well as monitoring cycle efficiency, we also monitor scrap rates and run efficiency. The system is very flexible so that we can show the information on the Barco Data Units and produce any system reports that we need.  Barcos wireless technology is less expensive to install and useful when machines need to be moved. The service team at Barco is always available to help us over the phone for general advice or they can dial into our system remotely for technical assistance.

John Taylor, Head of IT for RPC Group adds: Following surveying the marketplace for a new shop-floor machine monitoring system, we chose to work with Barco. The solution they offered was very advanced and included using intelligent wireless devices to provide a high degree of flexibility for shop-floor layouts. Ever since the initial project meeting I have been impressed with the quality of the project management and the technical skills available. Our first installation went very smoothly, with equipment arriving on time, software installed according to the project plan, the links to our ERP system fully integrated. The final solution has more than met all our project requirements. Having completed this first implementation we are now moving on to our sister site in Oakham where all devices will be linked by wireless.

PCs on the shop floor and in the supervisors office run the PLANTMASTER software. A colour coded screen tells us the status of each machine on the shop floor. An icon displays if any machine is running out of tolerance, is down or if there is a scrap alert.  It has enabled us to react to problems much more quickly and further reduce our downtime, Mr. Tyson stresses. It also gives us machine efficiency reports in various graphical formats.  In the past it was difficult to compare all the machines to see which gave us the poorest performance. PLANTMASTER provides this information automatically, so we can target our maintenance spend and replacement program very accurately. Even though the Barco system has been a major investment, it has already given us a big pay back.

John Taylor concludes, I believe the partnership with Barco has started in a very positive manner.  I have no doubt our subsequent installations will be as successful as the first.

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