Paris-headquartered Tarkett is one of the world’s largest diverse flooring suppliers, with a presence in over 100 countries. It has 32 manufacturing sites worldwide, in addition to its Ronneby factory in Blekinge in southern Sweden. Ronneby produces PVC flooring mostly for education, health and aged care. The plant experienced an upswing in demand during the Covid-19 pandemic, supplying flooring to a number of temporary hospitals.
Tarkett set out to achieve a more efficient and better physical environment for its plant operators as part of its Industy 4.0 digitalization program. Six existing control rooms at Ronneby were windowless spaces with no daylight, and were subject to noise and vibration. Tarkett has combined all these into a newly built centralized control room that offers a clean, modern space with a pleasant ambience and sea views.
In doing so, Tarkett reflects the global trend towards consolidating control operations in a single space instead of many smaller rooms. This provides better process overview and enhanced environment for operators. As 40% of today’s operators will have retired within five years, Tarkett also saw the initiative as an important way to attract young, skilled personnel in future.
Tarkett wanted to increase the physical safety of technicians. The company is set to invest even more on security and safety in the near future.
Scope of supply
Although Tarkett designed the new control room mostly inhouse, the company did benefit from a workshop at ABB’s control room base in Borås. ABB equipped the control room with two latest- generation i3 Extended Operators Workplaces (EOWs) running ABB’s System 800xA control solution installed in this area of the plant. The EOW set-up features three large display screens giving an instant overview of all processes, and six smaller monitors.
ABB EOWs provide unparalleled ergonomics that allows all human factors aspects to be adjusted in order to enhance alertness, fast response time in case of events and overall productivity. The furniture features personal tags that remember individual preferences.
Tarkett has also invested in safety solutions from ABB Jokab Safety to provide protection for personnel from machinery that in the past was open, but is now being built in. This program is ongoing across the entire plant and includes physical fencing, gates and sensor-based security devices, with technicians no longer needing to approach machines such as gears and motors directly.
ABB is also providing an ongoing Security Update Service as part of Tarkett’s expanded cyber-security protection.
Tarkett opted for the ABB EOWs based on quality and performance, but has already worked with ABB on distributed control for many years. Ronneby recently upgraded from version 5 to the latest version 6 of System 800xA. ABB also supplied a custom-made control solution for the most sensitive area of the plant. Remaining old controllers will be replaced in time.
Feedback from Tarkett indicates that it is very satisfied with ABB’s smooth execution of the project on schedule. At time of writing, the EOWs had only recently gone live. “It’s too soon to talk about financial savings, but it is good to have started our digital automation journey. We certainly expect to gain operational efficiencies from the EOWs, as well as closer cooperation between operators and in overall plant communications,” said Ted Evaldsson, Electrical and Stores Manager at Ronneby. He adds that any scepticism on the part of operators to the EOWs disappeared very quickly. They also hope the new control room will help in recruiting skilled young operators to the industry.