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Pause Service in a Conveyor Belt System

This example shows how to pause service in an N-Server block using functionality available on the block Service control tab. For more information, see Service control Tab.

The example uses the N-Server block to model a linear conveyor belt in an industrial manufacturing setting.

Conveyor Belt Operation

The conveyor belt transports finished parts—entities—that are ready for final packaging. The basic operation of the conveyor belt system is:

  • When the operator presses the start button, the conveyor belt begins to transport parts.

  • Each time that the conveyor belt system transports five hundred parts, the belt pauses to allow the operator to perform a quick maintenance inspection. After 60 seconds, the conveyor belt automatically restarts. If the operator requires more time to perform the inspection, he selects the emergency stop switch.

  • Whenever the operator selects the emergency stop switch, the conveyor belt is held in the stopped state. The belt does not restart until the operator deselects the emergency stop switch and presses the start button.

The following graphic shows the top-level view of the conveyor belt model.

At the top level, the model is comprised of four blocks:

  • A Conveyor Belt Controller subsystem that contains a Stateflow® Chart. The Stateflow Chart executes the transitions between the running, paused, and stopped states of the belt.

  • A Parts Feeder subsystem that contains a Time-Based Entity Generator block. The generated entities represent finished parts that the conveyor belt transports for final packaging.

  • A Linear Conveyor Belt subsystem that consists primarily of an N-Server block. The N-Server block represents a conveyor belt that can transport N parts at any time.

  • An Analysis block that is a renamed Simulink® Scope block. When the simulation is complete, the Analysis block shows the status of the belt (running or stopped/paused) throughout the simulation, and the total number of parts transported.

Conveyor Belt Controller Subsystem Contents

The Conveyor Belt Controller subsystem executes transitions between the running, paused, and stopped states of the belt, in response to updates of various signals in the model.

In the real system, the operator uses buttons and switches to provide the start and emergency stop signals. In the model, the Signal Builder block mimics this operator input.

The MaintDelay signal enters the susbsystem as feedback from the Linear Conveyor Belt subsystem. This signal is an on/off signal that changes to a nonzero value (On) each time that the conveyor belt transports five hundred parts.

The Control block of the Conveyor Belt Controller subsystem contains a Stateflow Chart.

When the simulation starts, the belt is in the Stopped state. A positive Start signal puts the belt in the Running state. Each time that the conveyor belt transports five hundred parts, causing the MaintDelay signal to be nonzero, the belt transitions to the Paused state. After 60 seconds, when MaintDelay returns to a value of zero, the belt reenters the Running state. If an operator presses the EmergencyStop button, the belt returns to the Stopped state. To restart the belt, the operator must deselect the EmergencyStop switch before pressing Start.

Parts Feeder Subsystem Contents

The Parts Feeder subsystem generates entities representing the parts that the conveyor belt transports for packaging.

A Time-Based Entity Generator block generates entities to represent finished parts. If the conveyor belt motor is running, entities immediately depart the Time-Based Entity Generator block, which represents loading parts onto the conveyor belt. If the belt motor is stopped, entities do not depart the Time-Based Entity Generator block.

Linear Conveyor Belt Subsystem Contents

The Linear Conveyor Belt subsystem is comprised mainly of an N-Server block that represents a conveyor belt with capacity for N parts.

The MotorRun signal is a Boolean signal that enters the conveyor belt subsystem directly from the Conveyor Belt Controller subsystem. If the value of the MotorRun signal is True, indicating that the conveyor belt is running, the signal entering the pause port of the N-Server block is False. The N-Server continues to service entities.

If the operator selects the emergency stop switch, or if the conveyor belt pauses for maintenance, the MotorRun signal becomes False. In this case, the signal entering the pause port of the N-Server block is True. Servers in the N-Server block are disabled. The remaining service time in each server is paused.

When the Stateflow chart in the Conveyor Belt Controller subsystem returns to the Running state, indicating either that the operator has deselected the emergency stop switch, or that the maintenance delay period has expired, entity service resumes with the previously paused service time remaining. For more information on the pause functionality of the N-Server block, see Service control Tab.

The blocks connected to the #n port of the N-Server block calculate each time that the conveyor belt has transported five hundred parts. The gain parameter of the Gain block is set to 1/500. Therefore, when the N-Server services 500, 1000, 1500.... entities, the first input to the Subtract block is 1, 2, 3..... The Unit Delay block delays the second input to the Subtract block by 60 seconds, representing the short time that the belt is paused for inspection. During this time, the MaintDelay signal value is also 1, 2, 3.....

After 60 seconds, the Subtract block produces a result of 0 that feeds back to the Conveyor Belt Controller subsystem. If the operator has not also selected the emergency stop switch, the belt returns to the Running state.

Results

The output of the Analysis block shows the simulation results.

The top plot shows the status of the conveyor belt throughout the simulation. When the output is 1, the belt is running. At time zero, the operator presses the start button. The bottom plot shows that it takes about 50 seconds for the first parts to travel along the conveyor belt, where they are then packaged and removed. The travel time of a part along the belt is the service time of the N-Server block. When entities begin to depart the N-Server block—corresponding to removal from the belt—the #d output value of the block starts to increase. The bottom plot shows this increase.

After about 110 seconds, five hundred parts have been transported by the conveyor belt. The belt pauses for the maintenance delay period of 60 seconds. The bottom plot show this pause, with no increase in the number of departed entities between 110 seconds and 170 seconds. Once the maintenance delay period ends, the belt restarts. When the belt restarts, the remaining travel time of each part corresponds to the remaining service time of each entity in the N-Server block.

After 420 seconds, the operator selects the emergency stop switch. 10 seconds later, the operator removes the emergency stop signal and presses the start button. The bottom plot shows this stoppage, with no increase in the number of departed entities between 420 seconds and 430 seconds.

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