OEM Uses Rockwell Automation® Technology to Improve World’s First Automated Road Marking Vehicle | Automation.com

OEM Uses Rockwell Automation® Technology to Improve World’s First Automated Road Marking Vehicle

July 192004
Weight-based road marking vehicles use Excel-based reporting option to eliminate manual inefficiencies and reduce costly mistakes

MILWAUKEE, July 15, 2004 — Rockwell Automation advanced control technology has improved the control system on automated, weight-based road marking vehicles from Industrial Automation Supply (IAS), Fargo, N.D. Using Allen-Bradley MicroLogix controllers and Rockwell Software human-machine interface software allows for accurate mixtures, conformance to government specifications and improved painting efficiency. And with a new, automatic link to Microsoft Excel, the system can also create comprehensive reports for state inspectors, saving countless hours per project and eliminating costly mistakes.

“Rockwell Automation open control platforms provide seamless integration with Microsoft Excel and other industry standard software tools,” said Doug Burns, Global OEM Business Development Director, Rockwell Automation. “This system compatibility makes development and deployment of automation simpler, faster and less expensive.”

Historically, vehicles involved in the painting of public roads have been controlled manually. Changes in paint spray levels and the width and length of highway divider lines required adjustments by hand, with the vehicle at a full stop. Paint mixtures, which require precise amounts of fine, sand-like glass beads to meet government specifications for reflectivity and visibility, were often left to the least reliable measurement method — guesswork. And if the mixture didn’t meet the specification, the lines would need to be repainted, at a cost of up to $10,000 per mistake.

IAS saw an opportunity to automate the vehicles to provide more precise on-the-road performance. “In designing the automated system, we chose to work with Rockwell Automation because it had the product depth we were looking for, and I believe it has the best OEM support channel of any automation manufacturer around today,” said Jeff Wilkens, owner of IAS. “We wanted to transform these trucks into mini-factories on the road by completely automating them. Using automation, we’re able to deliver a flexible and cost- effective way to improve the process of how road paint is applied.”

At the heart of the programmable controller-based painting system is an Allen­Bradley MicroLogix 1500 controller, which assures that a constant ratio of paint is mixed with the glass beads to deliver optimum reflectivity. IAS chose the MicroLogix platform due to its compact size, cost-efficiency and network capabilities. Using the DeviceNet network and 1769-SDN scanner, IAS has the ability to seamlessly integrate components — including components from other suppliers. The system also uses Rockwell Software RSView Machine Edition (ME) and RSView32 as the human-machine interface software. RSView runs on an Allen-Bradley 6182 industrial computer inside the cab of the paint truck, or on an Allen-Bradley PanelView terminal for remote access, and is used to create easy-to-follow screens for operators. The 6182 and PanelView terminals are compact and designed to withstand the vibration, electrical noise and heat and that exist in on-the-road operations.

IAS customers have taken to the automated systems, with several instances of substantial cost savings. Using the new Excel-based reporting option, for example, one end user discovered that a large order of paint that was purchased was several hundred gallons short. The system can track distance as well as current feet-per-gallon and pounds-of-bead-per-gallon. Making the case using data from the IAS automated system extracted via Excel, the end user was able to recoup more than $50,000 from the paint supplier.

“With the help of Rockwell Automation, we made a road marking machine that accurately and automatically does all the things that, in the past, required lengthy work stoppages and yielded weaker results,” said Wilkens.

IAS builds approximately 20 paint monitoring systems and 120 to 140 road automation machinery control systems per year.

Rockwell Automation (NYSE:ROK) is a world-leading provider of industrial automation power, control and information solutions that help customers meet their manufacturing productivity objectives. The company brings together leading brands in industrial automation for Complete Automation solutions, including Allen-Bradley controls and engineered services and Rockwell Software factory management software, Dodge mechanical power transmission products, and Reliance Electric motors and drives. The company also is a leading provider of contact management technologies and applications that help companies more efficiently manage interaction with their own customers. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., USA, the company employs about 20,000 people at more than 450 locations serving customers in more than 80 countries.

For more information on solutions from Rockwell Automation, please contact the Rockwell Automation Response Center, 10701 Hampshire Avenue South, Bloomington, Minn., 55438, 800.223.5354, Ext. 1743.

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