More flexible setting plants thanks to new “modular” programming method

The requirements and tasks plant and production managers in modern brickworks face today ­include the necessity to ­respond to their customers’ manifold product ideas and variations in terms of highly diversified project-assigned order quantities. Not only process-engineering factors, such as the selection of the drying and firing programmes, but also the definition of the setting pattern on the tunnel kiln car is a decisive aspect of their work, as the following example ­illustrates.

As part of a machine upgrade the new Keller HCW software for sequence planning of a setting pattern with graphic support was implemented in cooperation with Vandersanden BV in its plant in Hedikhuizen. New and of vital importance for the implementation of this project were two important factors:

› A planning tool that works with full graphic support and shows a true-to-scale image of the tunnel kiln setting and that supports all brick sizes existing for the setting plant

› No substantial performance loss in the sequence control at the supply and grouping installations for the setting plant

The benefits of this new software are also obvious for plant manager Theo Haartmans of Vandersanden BV: “We now have the opportunity to react with flexibility to the requests of our customers and of architects, to optimize our production process, and to widen our product range enormously.”

Working with the new software in practice has ­already proven successful ­after a short time. As the programme was easy to handle, it did not take much time to adapt all existing brick sizes to work in modular mode. The individual module types can be selected from a list of settable modules and can be placed anywhere on the corresponding layer. The ­defined gap to the neighbouring module is already taken into consideration.

True-to-scale representation and the preset maximum layer width and pack height always make sure that the operator gets an overview of the complete setting. The individual layers set up with these modules can then easily be duplicated using “copy & paste”. Thus, a new complete setting pattern is created in no time. It can either be stored on the local hard disk or can be transferred via LAN or Wi-Fi to the control system of the setting plant.

Unlike traditional visualization systems, the “licence fees” charged by the manufacturers of these systems do not apply. The programme is licence-free software and can be installed on any Microsoft Windows operating system. A network interface is necessary for data transfer to the control system.

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