Raleigh Coatings are one of the world-leading wound dressing and silicone gel coating manufacturers. Raleigh wanted to investigate ways to move to 100% automated inspection on their perforation process, freeing the machine operators to focus on other value-add activities, and offering a complete quality guarantee to their customers. Due to the nature of the adhesive gel, the workshop needs to be kept at a cool 5°C, making continuous, manual inspection challenging. A camera-based system seemed appropriate, but it needed to be something that could be cost-effective to cover all machines across all three of Raleigh’s lines.
Through the pre-funded Digital Innovation for Manufacturing (DI4M) programme, WMG worked with Raleigh to assess the suitability of this system for their perforation machine and demonstrated the feasibility on some samples.
After the initial assessment, Raleigh and WMG specified the number of cameras and sensors to be placed on the machine that could record and monitor the full width of the product at the full process speed. Together, they selected the WMG Internship Programme to take the ideas forward, and two interns were recruited to set up the hardware. Youssef Maharem, and Shadman Rafid, were selected based on their knowledge, enthusiasm, and dedication. The interns setup the cameras and sensors on the machine and wrote the code to capture and process images.
To take the work further, and onto other processes, WMG assisted Raleigh with an application for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). In May 2020, the funding was granted, and the 2.5-year project to digitalise all of Raleigh’s processes began. Dan Peavoy, Innovation Manager at WMG, is now working with Tom Bailey, a Computer Science graduate from the University of Liverpool, to roll out the camera system to other machines.
Impact so far
- The first camera system is live at Raleigh, with operators trained. This reduces the inspection time required from the operators and frees them for other work. This could be to setup another perforation machine or work on another part of the process. As Raleigh expect to jump their revenue this year from £4.7M to £8.7M, following a large contract win, it’s vital that operators are not tied to perforation and are ready to setup and supervise multiple machines simultaneously.
- The funding awarded from Innovate UK will deploy similar cameras onto other processes so Raleigh can offer their customers 100% guaranteed inspection and demonstrate their commitment to being a world-class manufacturer. The full digital manufacturing project represents a shift to a data-driven approach to optimise processes, reducing setup times and increasing throughput. This is critical to support Raleigh’s anticipated growth to be a £11M business within 2 years.
Watch this space for more updates…