Welsh Slate: Automated product counting system

Project Description

Welsh Slate and Bangor University collaborated on a CPE project to develop a automated slate counted system to replace a manual counting process that was prone to human error.

Project Details

  • Company: Welsh Slate Ltd
  • CPE partner: Bangor University
  • Location: Gwynedd

“Bangor University CPE team have invested significant time and resources into solving this problem by successfully implementing photonics and bespoke programming. Welsh Slate are looking forward to advancing the project further with Bangor University, with the aims of improving accuracy and implementing pattern recognition, ensuring the system will be able to run successfully in the production environment”

Dylan Evans (Project Engineer), Welsh Slate

Welsh Slate is the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of high-quality slate for a peerless range of exterior and interior design applications. Uniquely 500 million years old, the material is widely recognized as the finest natural slate in the world. Operating in four locations in the UK, today, Welsh Slate continues to producing roofing slate, architectural products and aggregates while its export markets continue to grow.

The company has been interested in using photonics technology to improve and optimize their existing manufacturing processes, thus increasing productivity and reducing costs. This project aims to develop an demonstration prototype of Automated-Slate-Counting System (ASCS) for the company. This will be used to replace existing manual counting system, which is time-consuming, costly and prone to error. It is expected further project will continue after this project to explore the improvement and implementation of ASCS in the manufacturing line of Welsh Slate.

The slates produced follow a rather complex packaging and manual counting which is tedious and time consuming task for hundreds of slates. Through CPE, a project was initiated by collaboration of Bangor University (BU) and Welsh Slate to develop a feasible solution for a quick and accurate counting of the slates. Initial research at BU led to the development of an automated counting program with capability of accurate counting of a packaging in few seconds only compared to several minutes in the previous practice.