(formerly ADRC Technologies) is a Cleveland start-up commercializing control software that reduces energy consumption and improves process capability (Cpk). Their software product is unique in that it seamlessly integrates with existing application programs to optimize performance. The results are compelling. LineStream recently completed an installation at a Parker Parflex hose extrusion facility that reduced heating process energy consumption by over 50 percent and improved product performance capability index (Cpk) by 30 percent.
LineStream’s proprietary software is based on an innovation developed by Cleveland State University
(CSU) engineering professor and Director for the Center of Advanced Controls Technology, Dr. Zhiqiang Gao. His goal is to bring industrial control technology into the 21st century with software that actively rejects the many potential disturbances that arise in daily operations. That means that process challenges, such as material inconsistencies, ambient temperature swings, and recipe variance can be tuned down to whatever level the manufacturer chooses.
Thus, the technology that LineStream is commercializing, known as Active Disturbance Rejection Control (ADRC), has the potential to revolutionize machine control systems. Dave Neundorfer, LineStream President, said, “The ADRC concept is a proven game-changer for automated processes. The benefits are three-fold—optimized performance, simplified tuning, and seamless integration into existing programs. The benefit to manufacturers is a zero-risk implementation that lowers energy costs and improves quality performance.”
Many companies are excited about optimizing their manufacturing processes with a simple software upgrade. “The ADRC technology has been refined for the last 15 years; now we are taking it from the lab to the plant-floor and immediately delivering double-digit performance improvements,” said Neundorfer. In 2008, LineStream received one million dollars in venture capital funding from Early Stage Partners in Cleveland to fund the commercial launch of ADRC.
LineStream is working with innovative extrusion companies willing to test-drive LineStream’s transformative product. “There are countless applications that would benefit from this software, as controls are the fundamental building blocks of all automated processes,” Gang Tian, LineStream’s chief technologist, explained. “Today, we are focusing on temperature-critical applications that would realize significant cost savings from energy efficiency improvement. Extrusion processes are notoriously difficult to control, and therefore great showcases for demonstrating the benefits of our software while generating significant value for our customers.”
For Parker Hannifin, LineStream installed ADRC in a number of their polymer hose extruders in their Ravenna, Ohio, facility. “The implementation was simple,” said Parker’s control engineer, Scott Burrowbridge, “I sent them our existing PLC program over email, and a week later they showed up and installed the new program during shift changeover.” The results were immediate— heat zones achieved equilibrium with little to no temperature fluctuation, and the power meter readouts “look like they fell off a cliff.”
How do they deliver such drastic efficiency and quality improvements? The legacy control reacted to inter-zone and external temperature disturbances, causing significant process fluctuations and incessant ramping of the induction heaters. After ADRC was applied, the heater duty cycle was minimized, halving the energy required to run the line and providing more consistent zone temperatures. Consistent temperature delivers a consistent melt, which leads to a more consistent product. Since installing, the ADRC software has been running uninterrupted for 8 months without tuning needs or trouble-shooting. “They have a unique product” said General Manager Mark Gagnon, “LineStream helped us further optimize what was already a world-class operation.” Gagnon continued, “We are looking forward to working with LineStream to improve other aspects of our operation.”
Test-driving ADRC software is a no-brainer. To eliminate potential switching risks, LineStream installs their software in parallel with existing logic. This allows manufacturers to toggle between ADRC and the legacy control program for comparative performance testing. This also provides manufacturers peace of mind—they can always return to exactly how things were originally.
At present, LineStream is the first technology spinoff from CSU. Neundorfer reported that they are looking for innovative companies looking to realize significant energy savings through optimized process performance. Interested parties should contact LineStream technologies at
or (216) 862-7874 (ext 22).
Plant managers and business owners continuously work to remove inefficiencies and emerge with leaner, more efficient operations. LineStream Technologies™ addresses this need by providing effective software solutions with minimal switching costs.
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PolymerOhio, Inc. is a polymer industry-specific Ohio Edison Technology Center, which is funded by the Ohio Department of Development. PolymerOhio focuses on enhancing the global competitiveness of the polymer industry, including companies from the plastics, rubber, bioproducts, and advanced materials segments. For more information, go to polymerohio.org.