EDC’s Upgrade Ensures Future-Proof Operations for American Biltrite

EDC successfully upgraded American Biltrite’s critical coating line with modern controls during a planned shutdown period, enhancing operational efficiency while reducing the risk of future failures. 

American Biltrite (ABI), a manufacturer of high-quality protective films and advanced coatings for automotive, construction and flooring industries, faced challenges with their 1980s-era coating line due to obsolete controls and unsupported hardware. This line was instrumental in producing materials such as the plastic film seen on new vehicles during transportation and adhesive aisle runners used in construction projects.


American Biltrite’s coating line was equipped with outdated Parker SSD drives and an Allen-Bradley PLC-5, both no longer supported by their manufacturers. This lack of support made finding replacement parts difficult, leaving the company exposed to prolonged downtime in the event of a failure. Given the coating line’s importance, any significant downtime would severely impact ABI’s business.

“We started talking to them four or five years ago about this project,” said Chuck Dillard, Vice President at EDC. “They knew it was important, but they couldn’t shut the line down. Nobody really realized how vulnerable they were.”

A failure that caused a production halt intensified the need for a reliable and modernized control system, prompting the client to turn to EDC. “We have a history working with ABI on other projects, which made them feel confident in turning to us,” Dillard said.


EDC pre-designed and built control panels and subpanels at their own facility, conducting extensive pre-testing and simulations to ensure all components and software functioned correctly before on-site installation. The installation was scheduled during a planned shutdown period.  Once on site, engineers reused existing motors to maintain continuity, completing the upgrade swiftly to minimize disruption.

Solutions integrated by EDC for ABI’s coating line upgrade:

1. Upgraded Obsolete PLC: Replaced the legacy Allen-Bradley PLC-5 with a modern Rockwell GuardLogix PLC, incorporating safety for the entire line at the CPU.
2. New Drives Installation: Replaced all 33 drives on the line to ensure compatibility and efficiency.
 3. Remote I/O Integration: Installed remote I/O throughout the machine to enhance connectivity and control, including safety input modules for local wiring of E-stops and other safety components.
4. Transducers and Load Cells: Installed load cell amplifiers to monitor and regulate tension.
5. HMI Upgrades: Updated or replaced several HMIs, including upgrades to AVEVA (Wonderware) for enhanced user-interface capabilities.
6. Explosion-Proof Controls: Implemented explosion-proof controls in critical areas such as the coating section.
7. Thermal Oxidizer Upgrades: Upgraded the thermal oxidizer PLC, improving logic and functionality. Added features to make HMI more user-friendly.
8. Pre-Wired Subpanels: Designed and built pre-wired subpanels at EDC’s facility, which were then shipped and installed on-site, minimizing installation time and disruptions.
9. Reuse of Existing Motors: Preserved the existing Marathon Vector AC motors, ensuring compatibility with the new control system.
10. Custom PLC Programming: Rewrote the control program from scratch using high-speed Ethernet connectivity to regulate positions and tensions effectively. Utilized failsafe CPU for distributed safety control, eliminating multiple E-stop relays.


The upgrade project for ABI’s coating line enhanced operational efficiency and reliability through the implementation of a Rockwell Automation GuardLogix PLC, 33 new drives, and extensive remote I/O modules. The new PLC replaced the obsolete Allen-Bradley PLC-5, eliminating downtime risks associated with unsupported hardware. EDC’s proven tension control algorithms enabled precise tension regulation, ensuring consistent product quality and reducing material waste. 

Upgrades to several HMIs, including AVEVA (Wonderware), provided operators with a user-friendly interface and better control. Explosion-proof controls in the coating section ensured safety, while the improving the thermal oxidizer controls ensured it continued to meet EPA requirements, supporting environmental compliance. Pre-wired subpanels minimized installation time and disruptions, and the preservation of existing Marathon Vector AC motors ensured continuity. Custom PLC programming and pre-testing at EDC’s facility ensured a quick transition, reducing downtime for maintenance. 

The upgrades completed by EDC’s teams resulted in improved reliability, enhanced control capabilities, and reduced operational vulnerabilities.

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