The needle punched nonwoven industry is a fascinating success story that goes far beyond textiles. Although numerous textiles such as blankets and carpeting are made using the needle punching process, it is also applied to an astonishing variety of other materials including:
- Filters for a wide variety of applications from pollution control to blood filters
- Insulators, including ceramic insulation
- Papermaker felts
- Synthetic leather
- Marine hulls
- Kevlar (for bullet-proof vests)
Needle punching is an eco-friendly technology, as it requires no water, consumes small amounts of energy relative to the amount of production, and produces very small amounts of waste and potential pollutants. It also benefits significantly from modern automation. A depiction of a simple needle punching process is shown below.
IPACT understands the needle punching process, and has experience with automating needle punching machines. On a project for Voith Fabrics, IPACT added Wonderware InTouch HMI, Historian, and automatic recipe management and tracking to 4 needling machines. These machines produce felt conveyor belts used in the paper making industry. A brief summary of our accomplishments on this project:
- IPACT replaced OEM HMI equipment that could not be maintained and had remained stagnant, because to change it would have involved going back to the OEM in Germany for modifications.
- Two of the four machines had no modern HMI controls, and IPACT was able to provide a standardized HMI for all four machines so that operators can easily migrate from one machine to the other without retraining.
- IPACT’s machine control and Wonderware experience enabled us to design a flexible, robust recipe system that provided radically improved configuration capabilities for managing the process through the multiple operations required to manufacture the felt belts.
- The addition of the historian data empowers Voith to continuously improve and optimize the process.