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P&G captures high-tech assistance

A new video troubleshooting tool gives packaging line operators at Procter & Gamble the power to solve problems faster.
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Troubleshooting problems such as line jams in packaging operations just got easier at the Brown Summit NC plant of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble. Installed at the plant were two new high-speed video systems called 20/20 Hindsight. They’re used on three packaging lines in the antiperspirant and deodorant department where troubleshooting time has been cut in half according to Kirk McDaniel P&G’s process engineer.

Previously line jams or problems were detected through manual observation and high-speed camera systems. But the new high-speed video system is different. “20/20 Hindsight is easy to set up and provides easy manipulation and analysis of the digital data” says McDaniel.

The 20/20 Hindsight system from Monitoring Technology (Fairfax VA) consists of a Samsung camera Hindsight software flat-screen monitor keyboard and two hard drives that sit on a cart for easy portability.

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To set up the system an operator simply rolls the cart to where the problem is occurring on the packaging line points the camera and presses a button to turn the system on. When the system is turned on the camera auto-focuses and begins recording and the computer monitor shows the footage being taken. Recording is continuous and the system stores the last nine hours of video captured in a 75-gigabyte hard drive.

“With our previous high-speed video camera we had to take a special class to learn how to use the system. It was very cumbersome to set up” says McDaniel. “With 20/20 Hindsight anyone in the plant can set it up and view it to solve the problems.”

For example the antiperspirants and deodorant department was experiencing a problem with the packaging line that packs P&G’s Secret and Sure brands. Each line has a filler capper and case packer made in-house. Also made in-house is a machine called an up-ender that is located in between the filler and the capper. The purpose of the machine is to take a canister that is on its side and turn it upright at high speeds. At the up-ender station canisters were falling on occasion and the operators could not explain why. McDaniel decided to put 20/20 Hindsight to work.

Operator freed up

“Instead of an operator standing there and watching the area we have the camera there” says McDaniel. “It frees up an operator and when the problem occurs the operator can view the high-speed up-ender in slow motion to solve the problem.”

Once a canister fell off the line the operator on duty was able to review the recorded event with the system’s patented ScanBack technology. ScanBack allows an operator to scroll through the last nine hours of video and play the jam in slow motion to help understand why the jam occurred. Video is captured at 60 frames/sec with MJPEG compression which means that it can produce high image quality and an operator can view an event frame-by-frame.

Once the event is found the operator places a digital marker on the event. At that point the system automatically saves that piece of the video as an EXE file to a separate 20-gigabyte hard drive. The file can also be burned on a CD to share the findings externally.

In this example the operator played the event in slow motion and saw that a belt located on the up-ender was taking a canister and twisting it over off of the line. McDaniel being the process engineer for the line was then able to solve the problem quickly.

“Before we had to give it our best shot to figure out problems that operators were experiencing” says McDaniel. “20/20 Hindsight is a big help in troubleshooting a problem more accurately.”

Another benefit of the system is that when looking back at the footage the camera does not stop recording. This feature is called Full Duplexing which may come in handy if the error should occur while viewing the footage.

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