A User Requirement Specification (URS) document is essential to ensuring that the system you are looking to purchase is going to meet your requirements. However, when you get into the realms of automation, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need to specify within your document to ensure you get a system that is as adaptive and flexible as you need it to be.
With this in mind, we have created a downloadable palletiser URS template that can be used as a base product from which to create your own unique URS document, that specifically meets your requirements.
Whilst we have created a quick and easy downloadable template for you to use, we have also explained each of the key areas that need to be considered when writing a palletiser URS in more detail below.
- Purpose & Scope of Palletiser
What does the palletiser need to achieve? Typically a palletiser system would take the product from an infeed conveyor and orientate it for palletising. It would then place the product on the pallet in the defined stack pattern until the specified number of layers had been achieved, using slip sheets if required. The finished stacked pallet would then be ready for a forklift to remove from the cell or fed out of the system via a conveyor system.
- Project Contact Details
Ensure all stakeholders are listed here as this will ensure that you cover all of their requirements whilst writing the URS. Also, if there are any questions during the quoting process, the relevant contact can be easily contacted, speeding up the quoting process.
- Description of Product and Packaging
What is the product that needs to be palletised? Standard applications would often be the palletising of bags, boxes, trays, tins, barrels, etc. Within this section of the URS it is important to specify the type of product that needs to be palletised, along with the max/min weights and dimensions. Is the box/bag suitable for vacuum picking or will it need to be gripped from underneath due to lack of strength of the box/bag, or a very porous/uneven top surface? Max and min stack heights, pallet overhang etc. should be specified here.
- Process Information
How will the product arrive at the palletising cell? Will it arrive in multiples or as single items? It is important to specify here what the maximum deviation will be from the reference line (see template for more detail). If you require the product to be automatically aligned, measured, and tolerance checked then specify so in this section.
- Installation Environment
What hygiene level area will this be installed in? Most production processes are typically a medium hygiene level area. In this section the room conditions should be specified such as temperature and humidity, and any other conditions such as dusty atmosphere should be listed. Available dimension for the palletiser to be installed in should be mentioned and available access to the area should also be specified. It should also be specified here if access is needed to the current machinery. Utilities available should be listed, and for a palletiser install, the standard electricity supply and compressed air requirements are listed on the downloadable template. Floor specification should also be included, mentioning any sloped floors, floor type, and the load capacity of the floor.
- Project Specifications
This section should cover details on how many lines will be coming into the palletising cell, and what downstream equipment there will be. Typically with a palletiser cell the only downstream equipment would be pallet trucks or counterbalanced fork lift trucks. Pallet types being used and slip sheet specification type and dimensions should be specified. The scope of supply should be included here and the following items would normally be included here subject to your requirements; change over time with 1 operator of <5 mins, infeed conveyor/unloading boom, automatic pallet supply, automatic slip sheet distribution, automatic distribution of interlayer, automatic distribution of pallet top cover, outfeed conveyor (with quantity of full pallet wait specified), training program, and any other specific requirements.
- Equipment Specifications
Specifications details for a palletising cell are mainly focussed around the HMI requirements. Typically for a palletiser, you would normally specify that the HMI touch screen interface would provide all necessary information for the operator to operate the machine and deal with minor stoppages without the need for the maintenance team. The HMI should provide palletising visualisation software which is preferable to be in 3D. For flexibility, you will probably want to include here that access to machine parameters (speeds, counters, timers, etc) should be accessible from the HMI and not through PLC programming. Other key things that you will probably want to include here are: alarm identification, re-startup assistance with confirmation of palletiser configuration, pallet pattern adjustment, and new stacking program set up within 10 minutes with no limit on number of set ups that can be saved. Another specification that you would most likely want to include is that the HMI should have an easy and intuitive pattern generation software with drag and drop programming so that the system can be programmed without supplier intervention. It should also be specified that an uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) should be present where deemed necessary for HMI operating system safe shutdown and/or sensitive electrical components that ensure correct machine restart in case of unforeseen lack of power.
- Safety, Health and Environment
The current safety standards for this type of equipment should be stated here, and it should be specified that the machinery should comply with them. The standards that apply for an automated palletising system are detailed on the downloadable template. Some of the more common safety requirements that should be specified in this section include: emergency stop/e-stop functionality, safety devices to ensure that no accidental product falling will hit someone in the safety zone, maximum acceptable noise level, robot safety rated defined working zones, and energy isolation. The system should be marked with the relevant information and a complete list of these requirements is on the downloadable URS document.
- General Design Requirements
Component requirements should be written here, and typically for a palletiser system you would specify items such as conveyor height, infeed product and conveying system, pallet pattern etc.
- Quality and Performance
Specifications for Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) and Site Acceptance Test (SAT) should be listed here. This would typically include details on pallet alignment, slip sheet/interlayer alignment, throughput speed, restart time (in case of a minor stoppage), changeover time, CIL time and frequency, time needed for start-up from no power to stable production. Ideally you would specify that the equipment should be designed for quick change over and <10 minutes set up. Production speeds should be included giving both minimum and ideal speed requirements. Often a palletiser can become a lot cheaper by meeting a slightly lower spec than the contingency maximum. Potentially you could specify in this section that you want the ability to increase the speed in the future if required and this may significantly reduce your short term costs.
- Equipment Electrical and Automation Specifications
Connectivity requirements should be listed here and would include information on whether the system will be linked to the factory network, confirmation that the site has 4G access or the system can be connected to a network. Whether or not the palletiser will need to be networked with other equipment. If the system needs to be networked with other equipment, the inputs/outputs required for this should also be specified here.
All required documentation should be entered here, and for a palletiser URS it would usually include the following: preliminary layout, detailed layout, certificate of conformance, pneumatic drawings, recommended spares list, operating manual, safety instructions, detailed description of the equipment, operating procedure, detailed description of operating screens, troubleshooting list, and online project update reports for project duration. Installation and commissioning requirements should also be included and would typically include details on who will install, commission, and perform FAT and SAT.
Typically training on the system should be provided by the supplier and for UK installations the trainer should be fluent in English. The training should include at least, but not be limited to all the details required for operating the equipment appropriately, covering at least the following items: safety instructions, detailed description of the equipment, operating procedure, detailed description of the operating screens, predictive and preventative maintenance.
- Pallet Specification
Details on the types of pallets that will be used in the system should be included here. This should include information such as; pallet length, pallet width, pallet height, and empty pallet weight.
Whilst each business application for a palletiser is unique, there are many specific features of a palletiser system that are of benefit to all companies. This downloadable URS has sought to include all of the most beneficial automation developments that are currently available in the automated palletiser market to ensure you will end up with a final product that is as future proof as possible.
If you would like any further help or information then please do contact us on 01223 499488 and we will be very happy to help.
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