CUSTOMER SUCCESS STORIES

Deploying multi-site IoT solutions at Puratos

Find out how Puratos successfully rolled out various IoT solutions across multiple production sites worldwide through intelligent IoT sensors and scalable infrastructure platform from VersaSense
A NEW ERA

Puratos deploys IoT

Being part of the Unilin Group and executing under the broader international wings of Mohawk Industries, the global leader in floor covering, Unilin Panels is a leading producer of sustainable and high-quality wood based solutions for the construction and interior sector. From chipboard and MDF panels, HPL and melamine faced boards, Unilin Panels operates several production sites mainly situated in West-Europe.

In the chipboard production process, wood particles, sourced from recycled wood, are compressed and bonded together using adhesive resins, subject to high pressure and temperature in industrial-scale facilities. Reliability management plays a critical role in maintaining consistent and high-quality chipboard output. Unforeseen machine issues disrupting the manufacturing process can lead to structural flaws and performance inconsistencies in the final products. Having an effective reliability and maintenance strategy is essential to mitigate such risks and ensure optimal product quality and reliability.

Pioneering sustainable chipboard, Unilin Panels is leading the way with an innovative reliability strategy, reducing environmental impact and delivering significantly more reliable, high-quality products. Partnering with VersaSense, Unilin Panels has deployed AI and IoT-based solutions across their manufacturing facilities at Bospan and Spano in order to transform unexpected breakdowns into breakthroughs.

Predictive Maintenance

Chipboard factory at Unilin Panels
CHALLENGES

Harsh manufacturing environment, heterogeneous machines, unplanned downtime

As part of its reliability strategy, Unilin Panels sought a solution to mitigate unplanned downtime. This is a critical concern for the company due to its significant financial impact and disruption to both up- and downstream production operations and the influence this has on overall production quality. 

To address the issue of unexpected machine failures, it was crucial to implement continuous monitoring of a variety of machines throughout the production facility. This includes pumps, ventilators, electric motors, reducers, as well as redlers and elevators. The objective of this monitoring was to provide clear evaluations of machine health that could be easily comprehended by all maintenance engineers, irrespective of their specialised theoretical knowledge in machinery.

Due to the expansive scale of the production facility and confronted by challenges posed by the rough environment, Unilin Panels engaged VersaSense to deliver a comprehensive solution that addresses the essential need for predictive maintenance. Besides providing 24/7 monitoring and making machine health predictions, this encompassed seamless installation of sensors, comply with corporate cybersecurity regulations, and integration of predictions and immediate alerts with already existing factory OT systems.

SOLUTION

Factory-wide network of self-organising wireless IoT sensors

To support Unilin’s reliability team in continuous asset monitoring and health predictions across the entire facility, VersaSense deployed a highly robust and secure wireless mesh network. This network comprises hundreds of battery-powered wireless sensors installed on various machines and dedicated to monitoring vibration and temperature around the clock.

VersaSense wireless mesh networks leverage SmartMesh® IP, Analog Devices’ flagship low-power IoT radio technology, engineered to ensure reliable wireless communication even in harsh and dynamically changing industrial environments. Leveraging IEEE 802.15.4e and 6LoWPAN standards, SmartMesh® IP networks establish an exceptionally robust and self-organising wireless backbone across the facility. Each device collaborates within the network, serving as an autonomous extension point for others, thereby fortifying the overall network infrastructure.

The wireless IoT technology used by VersaSense has truly impressed us. In our complex environment where previous solutions struggled, the VersaSense mesh network seamlessly navigates throughout our production plant, ensuring no data loss and adhering to our stringent corporate cybersecurity protocols.
Simon Beernaert
Reliability Leader Unilin Panels

All VersaSense sensors are fully equipped with secure over-the-air reconfiguration capabilities. This enables remote reconfiguration and updates of every software element on the sensor as needed. Thus, for example, new or specialized algorithms for vibration signal analysis or pattern recognition can be effortlessly deployed for specific machines whenever necessary.

A wireless mesh-based sensor installed on a machine used to intelligently predict machine health through vibration analytics
A VersaSense Intelligent Vibration Sensor installed on a machine at Unilin Panels.

24/7 continuous monitoring of machine health

The reliability team installed sensors on a range of machines, such as pumps, saws, compressors, ventilators, redlers, and conveyor belts. Each sensor was set up to regularly gather vibration and temperature data and analyze it locally. The collected vibration measurements undergo comprehensive analysis, including examination of time-domain metrics and full spectral analysis, to detect any anomalies attributed to machine wear.

At Unilin Panels, VersaSense gathers more than 120 million unique sensor measurements annually per plant, comprising temperature data and fully analysed vibration data. This extensive dataset empowers our AI-driven prediction software to analyse machine performance accurately, independently of product regimes or occasional events.

Due to the intensive focus on combining with and AI-driven predictions, the system autonomously uncovers machine regimes within the data, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of the machine itself.

440

sensors installed
on 2 production
sites

120 Mio

sensor measurements
analysed per plant
per year

15

machine issues
flagged in first
6 months

Enhanced insights through cloud-based AI-driven machine health assessments

The collected measurements are transmitted to a connected cloud platform, where AI-driven software performs trend analytics, anomaly detection, and pattern recognition of previously known failures. The platform not only presents users with a straightforward representation of machine health but also furnishes machine experts with intricate details necessary for further in-depth analysis. 

"The VersaSense AI-powered prediction software serves as the ideal companion for our machine experts. In addition to their monthly routine measurements, it offers them a comprehensive timeline of machine events over time, enabling a thorough examination of all pertinent low-level vibration characteristics for precise diagnostics."
Simon Beernaert
Reliability Leader Unilin Panels

The reliability team has the flexibility to include feedback on detected issues and maintenance operations that were performed, allowing the system to recognise patterns and retrain. Furthermore, the platform facilitates machine-to-machine comparisons, providing insights into behavioural patterns relative to similar machines.

Finally, a major requirement was to integrate with the existing in-house IT/OT systems, linking detected or evaluated events to the current production context. This interconnected approach enhances the overall understanding of the machinery’s performance in the broader manufacturing landscape.

AI-based insights on machine conditions
RESULTS

Modern Reliability Management. Less unplanned downtime.

Already in the first months after installation of the first sensors, VersaSense’s AI-assisted predictive maintenance solution at Unilin Panels has yielded promising results, significantly transforming their operational landscape. With continuous 24/7 monitoring of machines and the analysis of vibration and temperature data captured every 5 minutes, Unilin Panels can now detect abnormalities and uncover machine regimes automatically.

This proactive approach has led to a substantial reduction in unplanned downtime including several incidents that were already avoided already in the first 6 months after installation.  Being able to timely plan interventions and minimising surprise disruptions to production schedules saved tens of thousands of Euros not only in production time and resources, but also in major replacement costs  by preventing equipment failures before they escalate to disaster.

Furthermore, the cloud-based platform provided by VersaSense has proven instrumental in enhancing overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) at Unilin Panels. The trend analytics and anomaly detection functionalities enable a deeper understanding of machinery health, empowering the reliability team to make more informed decisions. Technical engineers benefit from daily health assessments and detailed insights into machine performance evolution over time. The ability to provide feedback on maintenance operations, retrain the system, and compare machines with each other enhances Unilin Panels’ ability to optimise their production processes, fostering a more resilient and efficient manufacturing environment.

Learn more about VersaSense's solution for AI-enabled Machine Health Assessments

Predictive Maintenance Solution Brief from VersaSense
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