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ECS Donation Enhances On Machine Learning

The Wolfpack Baby paper machine looked different to students returning to campus this Fall, due to a generous donation from Brian Mock and Event Capture Systems (ECS). The Paper Science & Engineering (PSE) program was gifted a process monitoring and web inspection system. With this new system, students will have an increased educational opportunity that would not have been possible prior to this installation. The provided hardware and software, valued at more than $50,000, gives the PSE program access to the same event capture technology found on many paper machines worldwide.

Paper Machine Operations

The technology provided by Event Capture Systems (ECS) is designed to maximize the realized capacity by increasing speed and reducing downtime and the amount of defective or off-quality product produced. Web inspection systems have been around since the 1990’s, however, the capabilities of such systems have dramatically improved with the incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The cameras donated by ECS provide high quality images and are located along the machine to monitor for breaks or defects within the sheet. In the event that a defect or break occurs, the camera quality allows for precision in locating where the issue occurred. Accompanying reporting software analyzes video input from the camera system and provides real time display and analysis of data. The video and data captured by the cameras are stored on a server and can later be used to identify trends between defects, breaks, or other process variables through the use of machine learning. The recorded video can also be used in a simulation mode setting. In simulation mode, the analytical software inspects the pre-recorded video as if it has never seen that footage before. The software will analyze the video input, and outputs real time analytics. This provides a unique training opportunity for students or operators learning about paper machine operations, since the software could be used to simulate a variety of upset or unfavorable conditions.

Production Process Issues

When asked about the introduction of the web inspection system, PSE senior Makayla Moore had this to say: “Utilizing these cameras in PSE 472 (paper process analysis) would prepare students for full-time jobs where they will be using similar technology. It would also help diagnose problems and increase runnability of the paper machine during PSE 472 labs. This technology could also be applied to PSE 475 (process control) to demonstrate how technology can be used to identify and correct issues in the production process.”

In addition to the camera system, Mock has offered to donate chip classification technology to the department, the chip classification technology, which utilizes cameras to analyze chip quality, would allow students to learn about artificial neural networks and deep learning. Currently, the PSE program does not have any courses which discuss machine learning or the application of artificial intelligence in the paper industry.

Brian Mock is the president of Event Capture Systems Inc. and is an NC State alumnus. He obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering and has more than 20 years of experience in the paper industry, providing process monitoring and web inspection systems. Brian’s commitment to teaching the next generation of engineers is exemplified through his generous donation which has enhanced the capabilities of the PSE program here at NC State.

Thank you Brian for supporting the PSE program!

By guest blogger Matthew Burleson