Allen Bradley PLCs and Ignition SCADA Deliver a Fully Automated Extrusion Process


  • Manufacturer of Semiconductor Materials

Technology Focus

  • Allen Bradley PLCs
  • Ignition SCADA

Project Overview

The manufacturer wanted to replace its manual, operator-assisted extrusion line process adjustments with an automated approach at one of its facilities. With manual, Microsoft® Excel-based processes for calculating and adjusting inputs, achieving steady state was taking quite a bit of time when dialing in the line. The company believed that a new automated adjustment procedure to calculate and input adjustments would help them achieve and maintain steady state much more quickly. 

Additionally, automating the adjustment procedure would eliminate extra steps taken by the operator and minimize errors associated with manual data entry, not to mention reduce the downtime as a result of manual adjustments.


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With an extruder having a multitude of variables (temperature, pressure, speed, etc.), the operator needed several hours to run the extruder and make the adjustments to meet the exact specifications required. Between the error-prone manual inputs and the fact that different shifts had different operators at the helm, the inherent risks were compiling. Understanding that the manufacturer had only one extruder meant that machine downtime was costly time wasted.

The manufacturer’s manual process included:

  1. Operator gets line to steady state.
  2. Takes quality samples to measure 3 critical process outputs.
  3. Plugs the results of those outputs into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with an algorithm to calculate process adjustments.
  4. The operator takes those results and manually plugs them back into the control system.
  5. Process repeats at step 1 until the critical outputs are within specification.


Neomatrix took on this project to remove the opportunity for potential errors and lost time. Instead of reinventing the process, Neomatrix programmed the system to automatically look at the error in each measurement and use the company’s algorithm to make adjustments up or down to process set points, such as screw speed, screw pressure, line speed, temperatures, etc.

Utilizing our proven process, we first developed a functional specification, configured the software, and performed a proper SAT (Site Acceptance Test) to test the changes.

The solution included measuring for three process outputs, each of which has separate testing equipment and stand-alone automation skids with Ignition by Inductive Automation. We connected the three testers and the extruder. We fed the outputs of the 3 testers to an Ignition project which used their algorithm to calculate the new process inputs that were automatically pushed down to the extruder.


After deployment, the manufacturer observed immediate improvements, including:

  1. Reduction in Time to Achieve In-spec Steady State
    With the new system in place, the time required to reach in-spec steady state was significantly reduced, as the system made real-time adjustments based on the algorithm without human intervention.
  2. Improved Accuracy and Consistency:
    The elimination of manual inputs led to improved accuracy in less time.
  3. Reduction in Downtime and Costs:
    The manufacturer experienced a notable decrease in setup and change over time, which had previously resulted from manual adjustments.
  4. Increased Operator Efficiency:
    With the automation handling process adjustments, operators were freed from the repetitive and error-prone task of manual adjustments. This allowed them to focus on more critical aspects of the production process.
  5. Enhanced Process Control and Documentation:
    The Ignition by Inductive Automation software provided enhanced process control, automatically adjusting various parameters to achieve desired results. Furthermore, the process adjustments and outcomes were documented systematically, offering valuable data for continuous improvement and compliance.

The automated adjustment process deployed by Neomatrix marked a significant enhancement in the manufacturer's extrusion line operations. By leveraging technology to remove human error and inefficiencies, the manufacturer achieved quicker in-spec steady state conditions, improved output consistency, reduced costs, and better utilized its human resources.

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