Automated lines produce excellent surface treatment results
Mecapinta’s customers mainly feature Finnish metal industry companies that deliver products to end clients operating in all industrial sectors across the world. With its high-quality plating and surface treatment services, Mecapinta increases the added value of its customers’ products, helping expand their potential markets. Mecapinta’s metal treatments are carried out on lines that are controlled by Makron’s automation systems.
“A high degree of automation and reliability are the be-all and end-all of the operations,” explains Juha Vähäsöyrinki, Mecapinta’s technical manager. Because delivery times are short in the sector, the lines must function without disruptions. Makron is responsible for the high automation level and reliable operation of Mecapinta’s electroplating lines. To ensure that Mecapinta can respond to growing demand, Makron is continuously developing the efficiency and functioning of its process control system.
Environmental values and energy savings as guidelines for operations
Sustainability is an important value to Mecapinta, and environmental matters are considered at every work stage. Energy is saved because the control system developed by Makron enables the optimization of the use of heating energy, which also translates into cost savings.
An excellent example of a sustainable aluminum treatment method is the anodizing process. It is based on electrolysis, a chemical process driven by an electric current. Mecapinta’s anodizing process involves dipping aluminum pieces suspended from a bar into chemical containers on an automated line. As a result of electric current, the pieces are given a hard oxide layer that protects them against corrosion and wear. Thanks to their increased durability, the products offer longer service lives, and the aluminum can still be recycled because no other substances are added to it.
A new line, modern features
Because its customers are requiring more challenging products, Mecapinta decided to invest in a second, larger anodizing line. As Mecapinta has collaborated with Makron right from the start of its operations, it was only natural that the companies would join forces to develop the new line.
The project also presented an opportunity to implement new, useful features. Makron’s experts proposed new solutions to boost efficiency and make the process more seamless. At the same time, new reporting features were implemented to facilitate production monitoring processes. Because the companies wanted long-term solutions for the line’s logic controller, Siemens TIA portal offered an ideal option.
Having overall responsibility for the process control system, Makron designed and programmed the PLC system and HMI software, manufactured the control cabinets, carried out electrical installations for the line, and took care of the commissioning. The new anodizing line was ready for use at the end of 2019.
Makron’s control system ensures a precise and energy-efficient process
The larger line with its efficient control system has brought about new opportunities. Summing up Mecapinta’s experiences of its new line, Juha Vähäsöyrinki says: “The process can now be adjusted more precisely, and the lead time is short. We have been able to meet customer demands.” With the new line, production capacity grew manyfold, and the line produces results that meet customer needs and required standards.
The control system designed by Makron’s automation experts also improves energy efficiency. Mecapinta has been particularly pleased about the heating timer function, which helps save energy. Makron integrated a timer function into the control system to allow the heating for the containers to switch off for the weekend and on again in time to achieve the target temperature by the start of the shift. Temperatures and heating times can be later viewed from reports.
The switch to the new system was smooth. The user interface designed by Makron is logical and easy to use, even without extensive training. The browser-based control room application can be used from a terminal at the end of the line—or any other location in the world. The situation on the line can be viewed with a single glance, offering information on the conveyor locations, bars being processed and their process stage, and container temperatures. The bar data indicate when the process will be completed. The processing program is easy to edit when necessary. The control system generates reports that contain production data and can be used for troubleshooting.
Automation solutions with long service lives
Mecapinta can rely on the anodizing line’s new automation solutions to bring added reliability, and components for it will be available in the future. In the event of any problems, Makron is just a phone call away and the situation can usually be solved via remote connections.
The automation level and production efficiency will be crucial to the company’s future success. Juha Vähäsöyrinki believes that Makron’s process control system can be put to more extensive use. Because the new anodizing line’s control system is easy to adapt to other coating lines, it can be implemented in other applications when it is time for Mecapinta to modernize its other lines.
“We want to remain one of Finland’s leading plating experts,” says Vähäsöyrinki. This goal can be achieved with an up-to-date and reliable automation system.
″We are extremely happy with our new automation system! Everything works perfectly.″