Plant overhaul results in significant production improvements for St Gobain

Posted on 19 Jan 2024 by The Manufacturer

The overhaul of an entire plant design and production line at Saint Gobain has resulted in increased capacity, the modernisation of an older production line design, speedier materials handling and reduced energy consumption.

Saint Gobain is a worldwide leader in light and sustainable construction materials. Since 1984, its Reynosa factory in Mexico has been involved in the manufacture and sale of solid and non-woven fibre abrasives (such as abrasive pads and wheels).

Promtek developed a complete turnkey solution for the factory which had the purpose of filling boxes with a predetermined number of ingredients/materials. The redesigned Reynosa trolley dispensing system consists of 250 individual ingredient locations arranged in two rows over approximately 50 metres of track. With a laser guided trolley that has two weigh scales per unit, the whole system can handle five boxes simultaneously. The overall system specification consists of:

  • Two tracks
  • Two trolleys
  • Two weigh scales (for fine and coarse materials)
  • Two loading points for boxes/ten unloading points
  • Maximum speed for the system of ten metres per second

Promtek revisited the original solution, re-engineered it, and implemented significant improvements. As the new system was going to be twice the size in load capacity and volume, the technology needed to be brought up to date to meet the customer’s considerable performance requirements.

Charles Williams, Promtek’s Managing Director, explained: “The opportunity to innovate and improve is always an excellent motivator but so is delivering the best solution for St Gobain. Previously, a total system had been designed for a smaller factory in Stafford.

“Despite this factory being one of the smallest in the group, it was the best performing, meaning Promtek sought collaboration with the engineers, designers, and everyone else involved. Engineering should be universal with core concepts and solutions able to be shared across borders.”

To complement and support the new production solution Promtek installed the Kestrel Control System, an advanced system that featured a bespoke software design supplied by a subcontractor, Aptech Powder Handling Systems. Working collaboratively, the two companies created the mechanical design of a first generation total process system to then create a brand-new second generation system which resulted in leaner maintenance, reduced downtime, and improved workforce utilisation, among a multitude of other modernisation benefits.

Promtek built a full working 1:10 scale prototype in the UK. 1:10 scale was an appropriate model size as it enabled the full system to be demonstrated with correct relative speed, size, and operation of the laser guidance systems. Laser positioning, which is accurate to the millimetre, helped the system to be flexible and fast. Trolleys and tanks could have their positions changed as necessary, meaning loading and unloading positions could be adjusted and manipulated as required.

St Gobain’s Jaime Guzman commented: “This was a complex but incredibly exciting project across international borders. Promtek engineers designed an excellent system which far exceeded all the factory’s current needs. They are known for exceptional engineering, and we were delighted with the results.

“As a construction materials manufacturer we make a wide range of different, complex products that can be strangely shaped, or obtuse, or abrasive. Our system must be millimetre accurate and precise, and with the expert engineering support available at Promtek the system has been completely reliable since completion.”

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