Laying Out Extruders & Auxiliary Panels
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to view extruder/press lines with various auxiliary equipment at many locations all over the world. Many of them are well thought-out, with much consideration being given to maximizing space and adding multiple lines in the future to facilitate growth. Every situation is different and has its own set of challenges in regard to available square footage and layout of current machinery used in other parts of the facility’s operation.
There is one detail however that is commonly being overlooked. I’ve occasionally noticed that the control panels could have been placed in a better location for ease of operation, and with better line of sight from the extruder/press lines and vice versa. That is especially important when running products that need water injection or have preconditioners that have multiple injection ports for steam and water. Timing is critical during these runs for establishing flow of product.
At times, the electrical conduit has already been run weeks beforehand, and the panel is going to land where it lands. One thing to avoid is placing the panel in such a way where you must work around it to adjust the extruder nose cone or open water manifold valves and steam valves. The distance of the panel from extruders is important because you want to keep an eye on extruder amps and processing temperature while adjusting nose cones. Panel placement is a small detail but placing it in the best available location will help operators learn the startup and shutdown process easier, help keep optimal production numbers, and future operators will be able to learn the process faster.
When taking into consideration panel placement for the extruders and presses you should also think about placement of auxiliary panels and start/stop buttons. Having both within proximity helps the operators start and stop the lines in proper sequence and help prevent costly mistakes. If the line needs to be shut down for any reason, including emergencies, it can be done quickly. It is more difficult and time consuming when auxiliary equipment panels or start/stop are in another room or down the stairs and you must climb over equipment and run to the other room to start or stop the rest of the line. At certain times of the day, particularly at night, there are times when there is only one operator, so making panels accessible is crucial to preventing errors or even severe accidents.
Please contact our service department to learn more about creating an efficient machine layout for your operation.