Addressing tissue industry skill shortages with COMPUTER VISION

According to the US Bureau of Labor, only 23% of operating workers are between the age of 16 to 35 and the median age in this category is 46 years!
The manufacturing workforce is aging while at the same time high employee turnover rates and expensive training make knowledge transfer difficult. Resultant low productivity and inconsistent quality are but two factors affecting business outcomes. Despite such performance issues, the first quarter of 2022 saw manufacturing labor costs increase by 5.7%.

author: Martin Rempel & Vince Roy, Papertech

Industry Insight by:

Papertech Inc.

The tissue industry is facing all of these challenges as tribal knowledge disappears with the retirement of older workers. Little apparent innovation makes the industry unsexy, at least to younger workers seeking to acquire skills with some longevity.
As human resource departments need to become ever more creative in hiring and training effective manufacturing personnel, it is paramount to investigate and implement methods and technologies that allow for consistent operations despite labor shortcomings.
One technology worth investigating is computer vision, a component of digital manufacturing technologies that use data to provide compelling insights into operational improvements.
Computer vision provides the “eyes” that make high speed processes visible and the intelligent tools that make what is seen understandable. Smart image based process automation, troubleshooting guidance and quality records reduce pains associated with missing manufacturing expertise.

The vision technology vendor in tissue production & converting

 

Make tissue production easier

Traditionally the successful operation of a tissue machine has been heavily dependent on operator skill level. Today skill compensation is provided by these vision tools:

  1. Jet cut-through automation.
  2. Wet-line control automation.
  3. Sheet formation can be made visible and analyzed without the physical on-machine analysis.
  4. Root causes of web breaks can often be automatically presented with visual information reducing required troubleshooting skills.
  5. Web quality defects can be automatically identified often in conjunction with images of their root cause. Subjective operator inspection of web samples and troubleshooting is eliminated.

Furthermore, high speed processes can be recorded and saved for subsequent training of new manufacturing personnel. The access of vision data via remote services makes process and quality data readily available to resources with adequate skill levels in any location. This can make the need for specific site based skill sets unnecessary.

TotalVision online inspection solutions replace subjective manual inspections thereby helping to reduce skill gaps

 

Intelligent operating decisions in the Converting Department

By unlocking data in information silos, knowledge gained from one process can be applied to optimize upstream or downstream manufacturing operations. This also applies to vision data collected during the tissue manufacturing process.
Tissue web surface quality data can, for example, be associated with completed parent reels and passed to a designated converting process via a Manufacturing Execution System.
After a reel is identified, relevant information is presented to the operator and machine control algorithms automatically control line speed to ensure optimal output without process interruptions. The operator no longer needs “tribal knowledge” to get the converting line setup right, allowing new and unskilled operators to run a line.

Simplification of Converting Line Operation

Vision solutions also make converting tasks simpler:

  1. Root causes of process interruptions can often be automatically presented with visual information reducing required troubleshooting skills.
  2. Web quality defects, such as poor embossing or print quality, can be automatically identified eliminating subjective quality assessments.
  3. Packaging defects can be automatically detected and poor quality product can be rejected prior to warehousing or shipment.

Today, leading international tissue producers are employing vision solutions, often as “best practice”. Increasingly recorded images are used to create instructional videos made accessible via Learning Management Systems and greater emphasis is being placed on proactively managing workforce skill gaps. Papertech, a leading vision technology provider for the tissue industry, is able discuss approaches in implementing the vision toolsets that will maximize the productivity of your workforce. Based on human resource forecasts it should be pertinent to get started on better enabling workers now!

 

Finding operators and process engineers with tissue process knowledge is becoming ever more difficult

 

 

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