Programming of two identical fully automated sawing lines

Xella kalkzandsteenfabriek De Hazelaar BV, located in Koningsbosch, produces calcium silicate block for the civil sector. Aside from the standardized elements they make project specific elements, which for example are used to construct corners or beneath a (slanted) roof. These special blocks are made by sawing the standardized elements to size.

Programming of two identical fully automated sawing lines

In order to enlarge their production capacity Xella build two fully automated production lines, for which van Daal engineering BV developed and implemented the control software.

The sawing lines among others consist of a main saw and a trimming saw, three pick-and-place robots (two of which are equipped with a vacuum grid plate), multiple buffers and a pallet handling section. The robots place the products on a conveyor belt which moves them through the saw. The geometry of a sawn product is determined by the saw configuration together with the position/orientation of the products on the conveyor belt.

In the early stages of this project’s pre-engineering phase we already realized that the desired functionality cannot be implemented using only PLC and SCADA programs. The main reasons are the complexity of the process flow (a nonlinear product handling) together with extensive visualization required to illustrate the production process. This problem is solved by the addition of a higher control level in the automation hierarchy, a so called “management”-layer. This process handling application is implemented in C# and takes care of the following tasks:

  • Downloading and verifaction of the production orders
  • Determination of the product flows
  • Product tracking
  • Determination of the machine settings
  • Pattern calculation of the vacuum grid
  • Robot coordination (determination of the pick-and-place positions)
  • PLC coordination
  • Logging of process values (for diagnostics and KPI calculations).

As a result, the PLC (Siemens TIA Portal) is unburdened from difficult calculations and is only responsible for controlling the individual components: including saw adjustments and conveyor belt control.

Programming of two identical fully automated sawing lines



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