Avon More than Doubles Throughput with Conveyor Control Technology

This case history about Avon Products Inc. comes courtesy of Tech Conveyor. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

Avon Products Inc.’s Newark, Del., distribution center, which sorts and ships an array of cosmetics, was relying on a 25-year-old shipping dock conveyor system. The conveyor system could no longer accommodate new packaging mixes, especially lightweight specifications.

The company needed to upgrade the control technology and conveyor system to accommodate new packaging mixes, reduce labor costs and keep production running smoothly. Management also wanted to ensure that the new technology would allow it to boost throughput above its current rate of 55 packages per minute.

Like many consumer product manufacturers, Avon (New York) works on a seasonal production schedule and cannot afford downtime during its busiest time--the fourth quarter. To accommodate the schedule requirements, while also meeting ts increased throughput goal, Avon turned to its partner for 20 years, Tech Conveyor (Phillipsburg, N.J.). Tech Conveyor needed to create a solution that would provide flexibility, increased speed and reliability, and more automated operation.

To meet Avon’s challenges, Tech Conveyor relied on control technology from Rockwell Automation (Milwaukee). Key to the solution was the installation of 160 Allen-Bradley ArmorStart distributed motor controllers and two Allen-Bradley SLC 5/05 programmable controllers. ArmorStart distributed motor controller can be placed near or “on” the machines it controls. The ArmorStart distributed motor controller minimizes space requirements and simplifies connectivity by allowing for two or more motors to be connected to the same branch-circuit. The pre-engineered plug-and-play connection design also helps reduce design, commission and installation time.

The new control system also includes a DeviceNet network to provide communication between the controllers. The flexible and scalable nature of the DeviceNet network allowed Tech Conveyor to install additional push button stations quickly, without the hassle of installing conduit and pulling additional wires through. In addition, the control system features Allen-Bradley PanelView Plus operator interface terminals to help easily locate issues with conveyor overload and Allen-Bradley Bulletin 855 Control Tower stack lights and Bulletin 855H warning horns for visual and audible indication of conveyor process changes.

To accommodate Avon’s seasonal production, Tech Conveyor technicians devised a three-phase implementation schedule for installing the 5,100 feet of new conveyor lines and supporting automation. Each phase involved Tech Conveyor technicians working on-site five days a week during installation and over the weekend between phases to ensure a seamless transition and startup of the new system.

Results

The new conveyor system, leveraging On-Machine technology, increased Avon’s throughput from 55 packages per minute to 120 using a Dock Sortation System, reducing the need for operators to work overtime during busy times to accommodate orders.

Using ArmorStart distributed motor controllers, Tech Conveyor reduced the size of the control panels for the new system by 60%--saving significant floor space.

Along with developing a flexible material handling system that helped Avon meet its throughput goals, Tech Conveyor realized process improvements that will help the OEM deliver more flexible systems to other customers in the future. These include: An estimated design time savings of approximately 40% on future systems; and a reduced controls and wiring installation time of approximately 5%.

In the near future, Tech Conveyor plans to integrate ArmorStart and other On-Machine technology into other projects, including other Avon distribution facilities.

The results mentioned above are specific to Tech Conveyor’s use of Rockwell Automation products in conjunction with other products. Specific results may vary for other customers.

MHMonline.com welcomes relevant, exclusive case histories that explain in specific detail the business benefits that new software and material-handling equipment has provided to specific users. Send submissions to Lisa Kempfer ([email protected]), MHM managing editor. All submissions will be edited for clarity, content and style.

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