Within the current industrial environment, manufacturing companies are facing variable changes forcing the manufacturing to improve their standard in designing and managing products and processes. High flexibility, high market demand, constantly growing adaptations, high quality products, flexible batches and short product life cycles are the key factors in the transition from traditional manufacturing systems to Next Generation Manufacturing Systems (Bortolini et al, 2018). To stay competitive, companies need to develop manufacturing systems that not only produce high quality products at low cost, but also enable rapid response to market changes and consumer needs.
Responsiveness refers to the speed at which a plant can meet changing business goals and produce new product models. Re-configurability is engineering technology that enables cost-effective and rapid responses to market and product changes (Koren and Shpitalni, 2010).
Nowadays reconfigurable conveyors are increasingly being used in a variety of industries due to their flexibility in adapting new products and product lines, as they offer considerable flexibility in adapting to newer products and product lines, while taking full advantage of the available space and all these possibilities the costs that would otherwise be incurred if a completely new conveyor system is installed (An et al.
, 2011). To quote from the article Dynamic Conveyor Corporation (2010), the key factor in a truly reconfigurable modular conveyor system is the ability to connect and reconnect a wide variety of modules and accessory modules that allow engineers the freedom to tweak production lines when necessary without need the new setup of conveyor and saving the cost of the material and component.
The RCS is the combination of physical and logical configuration. The physical conveyor known as the external hardware of the conveyor such as conveyor components, types and system design, while the logical conveyor unit is the controller that controls the movement of the transport element by the conveyor system (Wentzel et al., 2012). Even though the configuration can be conducted by rearranging the modular system the programming still need to be done manually which is time consuming for a large system application. In this project research, a control system is developed to reconfigure the conveyor system based on programmable logic controller (PLC) to control the movement and operation of a conveyor system which can be modified without stopping the operation. A control program must be changed when rearranging the layout of the physical conveyor module based on the input and output signals (Schreyer and Tseng, 2000). The PLC was selected to be controller for this project.
PLC is an industrial computer control system that continuously monitors the status of input devices and makes decisions based on a user program to manage the status of output devices. Almost any production line, machine function, or process can be greatly enhanced using this type of control system. However, the biggest advantage of using a PLC is the ability to change and modify a process or process when collecting and transmitting important information. Another advantage of a PLC system is that it is modular which we can mix and match the types of input and output devices that suit your application system (Bhiungade, 2015).