by J. M. Lemos
INESC has just ended its participation in the BRITE EURAM project Quality Enhancement and Process Availability in LLDPE Stretch Film by Multisensors and Computerised System, in which it entered as a subcontractor of Siii, a portuguese software producing company which was also involved. The other partners were Manuli Stretch S. P. A., an italian LLDPE stretch film manufacturer, Novara Electronics, an electronic equipment producer with large experience in the field of control and automation equipment for extrusion, Istituto de Ciencia y Tecnologia de Polimeros, from Madrid, Spain and Dow Chemicals Iberica, S. A., who provided expertise, respectively, on analysis of product properties and raw materials.
The final results of the project, which took 4 years to complete, were presented 1rst June 1995 in one of the factories of the Manuli Group, at Isernia, a small town in south Italy. The objective of the project was to develop a system able to control automatically the process while maintaining a constant level of quality. The process for LLDPE stretch film production consists of the extrusion of the raw material over a chill roll system, followed by a reel winding system.
The project was considered to be an important step in order to enhance every aspect of the factory environment, from developing new products to shipping finished current products. Dr. C. Forni, a member of the staff of Manuli Stretch S.P.A. who was the scientific coordinator of the project considered it as leading the factory to an high edge, since the system employed is characterised by the use of computers for product and process design, manufacturing control and decision support systems. The participation of INESC consisted in the development of models and algorithms for controller tuning and fault detection for the extruder producing the stretch film. The INESC team was making tests and specifications using MATLAB and, once the developments were concluded, Siii was developing the final version in C++. The integration of these products and results in the overal product was of the responsability of Novara Electronics. For INESC this was an interesting opportunity to gain experience with industrial problems, while bringing to the project its experience in applied mathematics, experiment design for modelling and data acquisition and algorithm development.
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