Swizzels incorporate IoT innovation with leading wireless technology
Client: Swizzels Matlow
Swizzels Matlow is one of the UK’s leading confectionery manufacturers and is famous for some of our best loved sweet brands including Love Hearts, Refreshers and Drumsticks, as well as a more recent range of jelly and foam sweets including Drumstick Squashies. Founded in 1928, Swizzels now employs over 500 staff based in its Derbyshire factory.
Following the early success of the Squashies range of sweets, Swizzels needed to increase its operational capacity in order to meet the growing demand for these popular products. Swizzels decided to make significant investment in the implementation of new ovens and an innovative, state of the art production line that would enable them to streamline and automate processes by introducing the use of “connected” machinery.
To increase its productivity levels, Swizzels incorporated Internet of Things innovation into the production line, by commissioning the creation of three connected robots to load and unload each of the ovens. These robots operate by receiving live instructions from wireless signals and therefore needed to be able to connect and communicate directly with the business network. As such, Swizzels approached Prodec Networks to discuss the full project requirements of implementing a reliable and robust wireless network that could operate the robots in a highly demanding manufacturing environment.
Following discovery discussions, Prodec Networks conducted a detailed site survey consisting of RF planning and heat map technology in order to work out the optimum location for each of the wireless access points.
The environment that the wireless access points needed to be deployed into posed additional challenges. Great performance was a crucial requirement, with wireless signals needing to be strong enough to ensure each of the robots could communicate from the far back of the ovens, each of which is equivalent in size to three standard sized garages placed end to end. Furthermore, the amount of metal in the building’s structure and the machinery located on site had potential to cause propagation issues. The manufacturing process itself also added complication; jelly production creates a lot of very fine starch dust that could potentially cause damage or performance issues, which meant the wireless access points need to be protected.
Prodec Networks installed a number of HPE Aruba 802.11ac access points with a sub-5 millisecond network performance speed. These were contained according to IP66 waterproofing standards to protect them from the harsh environment, and special mounting construction was strategically placed to ensure the robots were always in range to be able to communicate effectively with the network and perform their tasks as efficiently as possible.
Following the deployment and testing of the new Aruba wireless network, Swizzels was able to successfully provide their new robots with operational instructions delivered through the wireless network.
“The wireless installed by Prodec Networks was a critical element in a complex deployment and vital to the success of the entire operation. Prodec worked with our project teams on the planning and installation of the wireless with clinical precision and we’re happy with how it’s turned out”
IT Manager, Swizzels Matlow
“It’s great to implement wireless networks for projects such as this as it shows just how flexible wireless can be and how it can be used to innovate your business. It also highlights how the Internet of Things is developing to enable smart manufacturing. The rapid increase of connected devices and the proliferation of data provides a perfect opportunity for manufacturers to optimise production lines and increase operational efficiency.”
Head of Solutions Sales, Prodec Networks