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Private label diaper manufacturer using vision inspection system.

commitment to quality prompts purchase of

automated system

One of the leading private label disposable diaper manufacturers, Pope & Talbot, Portland, OR, recently installed a vision inspection system to inspect diapers in its Porterville, CA plant. This is the first of 11 systems to be installed as part of a corporate direction that establishes quality as one of the company's primary objectives. Pope & Talbot's Porterville plant employs about 150 people and manufactures five styles of diapers, which the company sells under private labels to customers such as Walmart, Eckard Drugs, Target and Albertsons. In addition to disposable diapers, Pope & Talbot also manufactures adult incontinence, consumer tissue and forest related products.

Pope & Talbot's corporate focus - to be the preeminent national supplier of "store brand" products, systems and services - requires it to be recognized as the industry leader in quality and service. To accomplish this, the company must be seen by consumers as providing products equal to or superior in quality and value to the national brands.

One step in proving its total commitment to product quality is the implementation of procedures and systems required for ISO 9000 certification. When achieved, the ISO 9000 certification will guarantee the customer that Pope & Talbot has a means to identify and resolve quality problems, thus ensuring only first quality product leaves the factory and ends up on the consumers' shelves.

Purchasing an automatic inspection system from Systronics Inc., Norcross, GA, is a key element in its ISO 9000 implementation. Systronics' diaper inspection system is the main component for providing the identification of the product's physical quality. "The diaper inspection system was user friendly and adaptable - two vital components we were looking for," said Les Rustad, Pope & Talbot's senior project engineer.

The system provides a very simple user interface package for the operators, supervisors and engineers integrated with Allen-Bradley CVIM technology. The software, incorporated by Systronics engineers with the configurability of the CVIM, provides a package of information on the production process. The system is also easily interfaced with Pope & Talbot's current diaper machinery, process controls and Allen-Bradley PLC's. "The powerful configurability of the CVIM system, coupled with the well designed and user friendly Systronics interface package, made this system a wise choice for integration into our existing process control and PLC systems," said Dan Wacek, Pope & Talbot's electronics specialist.

Every diaper produced by Pope & Talbot will be inspected by the system for product specifications at a rate of up to 500 diapers per minute. During system set-up, Systronics engineers entered Pope & Talbot's product parameters through the CVIM system's programming interface. The Systronics diaper inspection system measures dimensional characteristics and monitors placement of key components of the diaper, allowing up to 24 checks on every diaper. New product specifications or changes to existing ones can be made at any time by Pope & Talbot or Systronics personnel.

Each production line is equipped with two color monitors for the operator's use. As each diaper reaches the inspection point, an image of the diaper and its inspection results are displayed on the monitor. The results are in a simple color coded format: green (passed), yellow (marginal) and red (failed). If the vision system detects a physical defect, the diaper will be automatically rejected. Simultaneously, the system will signal an alarm condition to the machine operator. If the condition continues, the ISO 9000 procedures will instruct the operator as to the proper actions to take to restore product quality.

Prior to installing the diaper inspection system, visual inspection was the basis of Pope & Talbot's quality control. Random diapers would be taken from the line and checked against quality standards; however, with five diapers produced per second, a significant number could have been produced before the defect was detected, requiring "hold and purge" procedures be performed to remove all defective product.

Overall, the transition to the inspection system was a very simple process. Systronics and Pope & Talbot's engineers had the system installed and running in less than two days. Part of the reason for this quick and successful installation was Pope & Talbot's preparation. The diaper manufacturing machine was prepared as necessary with all preliminary site modifications completed before system installation; all plant personnel were versed in system capabilities and anxious for its arrival and the attitude of every worker was excellent, providing a positive environment for both organizations to succeed. Training was provided for Pope & Talbot's operators, supervisors and engineers involved with the system. Follow-up training will be scheduled over the next few months to establish a complete system knowledge.

"The operators have welcomed the system," said Mr. Wacek. "By seeing an image of every diaper they are able to make adjustments to the process in less time and, at a glance, are able to instantly monitor the end product produced by their line."

Mr. Rustad added, "Through the use of the new system and the ISO 9000 process, the chance of a poor quality product reaching the customer will diminish, thus attaining Pope & Talbot's objective of increasing consumer satisfaction."
COPYRIGHT 1993 Rodman Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Pope and Talbot
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:Private label baby diapers increase market share.
Next Article:Paralysis by analysis.

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