The Florida market and indeed many parts of the US are dominated by customers seeking individual solutions: “Please give me something my neighbors haven’t got” - seems to be the trend. This leads to a market dominated by small individual orders with very short lead-time. In turn, this reflects on the type of plants wanted by producers in such a market. Therefore, the producers need small medium size machines to be able to achieve fast product change without too much waste but still having a high productivity.
TriCircle Pavers is a family company and has been supplying paving products to Florida based customers for more than 35 years from facilities in Fort Myers and Bartow, Florida. TriCircle Pavers has come a long way from being a small-scale producer to hi-tech and sophisticated fully automatic production facility and stands for quality and serving their customers the best possible way. Two years ago, the owners Bill and his Son, Daniel deDeugd, realized that their sales yet again were outstripping their production capacity and started looking for additional capacity.
With a long-term relationship with KVM who also have supplied most of the existing production equipment, they naturally turned to KVM for the new project. The demand for the new facility was a customized solution fitting their needs for producing quality and special products and with as much automatization as possible and a layout to fit into the existing building in Bartow.
Keywords Quality, Flexibility and Efficiency
A very large and varied product program of slabs, curbs, pool copings etc. had previously resulted in some of the more special products having to be palletized by hand, giving a dependence upon hard to find manual labor. The reluctance to increase dependence on manual labor demanded designing a special cubing system for handling the many special products. The process started by identifying the product program for the new plant and designing the relevant mold layouts and packing formats. Test packs were built, strapped and transported all over Florida to test the viability of the packing principles etc. The process resulted in a new way of cubing and packaging the most important part of the product program, the pool copings.
The resulting plant design is therefore based around a specially designed cubing robot. The robot is equipped with a range of special clamps, tongs and vacuum lifting units adapted to handle the widely varied product program. The lifting units are designed for rapid change over between the different product types.
KVM Block machine
The size of production machine was chosen to fit the needed capacity for production and the capability of the cubing system. The KVM block machine type 900/1-S, pallet size 900x750 mm, is a medium size machine equipped for fast cycle time and easy and very fast product change over with very little waste. Change of production typically takes about 15 min. An automatic buffer of empty production pallets placed between the cubing line and the block machine line is used to absorb product changeovers and differences in cycle time on both sides.
The 900/S block machine is equipped with the raise/lowering of hopper arrangement, which ensures controlling and adjusting the correct amount of concrete fed into the filling box during operation. This also allows the hopper to supply a very small amount of concrete in the filling box and thus ensures that the filling box is empty after each cycle.
Production will not be stopped
The layout and design of the plant was governed by the existing building and a wish of having as many curing racks as possible to hold the many individual production runs. The plant therefore includes elevators and a Finger Car system holding 3456 production plastic pallets. Options as inspection arrangement were also added. This arrangement takes out the wanted pallet for quality checks on a separate line. The production will not be stopped during the check of products but will continue.
With a flexible Robot for cubing and packing stacks of different products quick change of adapters for each type of products are made as Plug & Play. This also gives a very efficient cycle time and a precise set up every time when changing from one product to another.
The batching and mixing plant was designed and installed by the local producer Ashlar Machinery and is designed for delivering concrete in multiple colors to the block machine. A holding hopper underneath each of the three concrete hoppers can supply all the many different color combinations wanted. This gives a true multicolor mix.
Fully KVM computer controlled
Both the batching and mixing plant and the entire block machine line is controlled from the same centrally placed operator system made by KVM. This gives one operator a complete overview of the entire process from the concrete intake until the finished pack leaves the building. The operator has access to a variety of plant parameters and is able to change plant settings and recipes from the panels. Information screens also give the operators a complete survey of the entire plant status. This KVM solution also makes it possible for KVM to support the entire system on-line 24 hours a day all year.
KVM Operator Academy
Operators from TriCircle are regular participants in the yearly operator-training course at KVM Headquarters in Denmark. Here they are trained in concrete technology, plant operation, faultfinding, and problem solving etc. The KVM Academy is offered for operators worldwide including operators using another machine supplier. This has been successful running for 20 years.
In order to keep up with the demand from their customers, Daniel de Deugd, President of TriCircle Pavers, decided to take on the challenge of building a new paver production plant. The challenge was to come up with a very flexible cubing line. Capable of handling many different shapes and dimensions with set packaging conditions. KVM ended up coming out with the best solution. Bill de Deugd, CEO, was very pleased about this, “We have had a long-standing relationship with KVM that will now continue to grow. KVM has been a consistently reliable partner for many years and we are very happy with our newest plant”.