19 February 2020

A 26hr race against the Coronavirus, bringing a mask production line to life

With the demand for dwindling facemasks during the coronavirus outbreak running at an all time high, it was the thanks to the non-stop work by the Siemens team that we were able to provide much needed help to medical supplies producer Wenjianlikang.

Here is the full nail-biting account of how we helped breathe life back into their production line and hope to those who need it.

4:00 p.m., February 6, 2020

Li Zeyu, technical sales support engineer from Region West of Siemens Digital Industries, received a call from their general manager from Region West of Digital Industries Sales. Li was informed that the medical supplies producer Wenjianlikang in Chengdu were seeking urgent help. To meet the soaring demand of masks for front-line healthcare workers and people who will return to work in Chengdu, the production plant needed to replace control system of their mask production line to expand production capacity.

Li understood the importance of an automated mask production line to the city, and he accepted the mission without hesitation.

After finding out Wenjianlikang’s specific needs, he called up his team members Chen Gang, Sun Xi and Yan Jian and asked them to join him on his mission, and together head for the factory 30km away.

6:00 p.m., February 6, 2020

Upon their arrival at the factory, Li and his colleagues found that the mask production line had been operational for 7 years and the control system was not working properly. It had to be  supported by workers’ manually and even then it’s daily production of masks was less than 10,000 pieces.

With no existing electrical drawings to refer to, the team had to figure out PLC’s input signals and output devices by examining every physical connection to PLC terminals. With their expertise and experiences over the years, the team redrew the wiring diagram from scratch.

They stayed focused and determined. It only took them 2 hours to finish equipment evaluation and selection. How did they achieve such efficiency? Li gave credit to their “think-tank” behind the scene.

“18 engineers from our team had been contributing their ideas in our WeChat working group throughout the night. We were not alone in this battle!” Li said with pride.

8:00 p.m., February 6, 2020

Thanks to this team effort they were able to figure out that made a with a Siemens SMART PLC and HMI they would be able to revitalize the production line. But where could they get these products at this hour? Li sought help from the distributor sales team that managed 15 local distributors in Chengdu.

Not long after all distributor sales team sent out the inquiries for the products, Team leader Yang Ju was the first to receive the reply “We could deliver the products to the factory!” It was from Sichuan Provincial Machinery Research and Design Institute (SMI). Thanks to help from SMI management and related departments, Li got the products ready for delivery to the factory in only 1 hour.

10:30 p.m., February 6, 2020

Li didn’t rush to leave after delivery of the products. As a technical expert, he chose to stay with Siemens team for PLC’s wiring and commissioning work overnight – wearing the protective glasses and suits, of course. Brought to the production line in the dead of night but the Siemens sales team from Region West to help protect the brave team.

8:00 a.m., February 7, 2020

Finally after all their hard work, in the early hours of the morning all single motion tests passed.

9:00 a.m., February 7, 2020

PLC programming started.

8:00 p.m., February 7, 2020

Pilot-production smoothly implemented.

8:00 a.m., February 8, 2020

By the next day the newly restarted production line, installed with the Siemens products, was able to run at full speed. Wenjianlikang’s daily production of masks increased to 50,000 pieces!

Seeing boxes of masks ready for distribution, Li and his colleagues felt nothing but joy and pride.

The Siemens team’s technical strength and fast response received high recognition from Sichuan provincial anti-virus devices R&D project team. Li and his colleagues were invited to join the mask machine R&D project and they devoted themselves to a new battle against virus again…

Related Tags