Modernizing Industrial Machinery: A Strategic Approach to Retrofitting with EDC

EDC’s client bought a slitting machine that was in pieces from an auction.  EDC engineers were excited to give new life to a line that was in a used equipment warehouse.

Case study by EDC Project Manager Joe Maloney

Slitting Line Upgraded by EDC with New HMI and Streamlined Operator Controls
Slitting Line Upgraded by EDC with New HMI and Streamlined Operator Controls


Reviving outdated machinery with modern controls demands strategic planning. This was the case when an EDC client acquired a 1960s-era Ruesch Slitting line from an auction. “The client bought the individual pieces of the slitting line. Everything was obsolete, defunct,” said EDC Project Manager Joe Maloney. “The client didn’t have any electrical drawings. Everything had to be refurbished and there were no controls. The client bought this slitter and they needed us, the systems integrator, to provide controls and integrate it back to working condition, which was no small feat.”

For cost and timing reasons, the client had chosen refurbishment of older equipment rather than investing in new equipment.

Once running, the line would be tasked with slitting 200 meter runs of a thicker gauge steel laminate material used in making bearings.  With no welding system in place to link subsequent coils together, the material tails out at the end of each coil.  


In addition to possessing obsolete controls, among the primary challenges was the presence of outdated Parker SSD DC drives. 

Reusing the existing drives required extensive refurbishment and rewiring to integrate them with a modern control system. This choice was driven by both cost considerations and the compatibility of the drives with the line’s existing components. The client’s choice to use the refurbished drives presented additional challenges with outdated connectivity interfaces, such as the need to program drives through serial cables due to the absence of Ethernet connectivity.  “Without the refurbished drives, we could have used a high-speed Ethernet protocol to communicate things like run commands and line speed. Because of the drives, everything had to be hardwired,” said Joe Maloney.

“We followed strict arc flash rules to gain access to the panel, wearing the full personal protective equipment (PPE) suit,” said Joe Maloney. “All these old drives don’t connect over Ethernet, so you have to program them through a serial connection. The hard wire, the run, the speed reference, all the feedback – all that eats up your available IO.”



With an ambitious project timeline of four months and needing to meet additional safety requirements, the client aimed to integrate controls into the acquired line. With a focus on compliance with safety standards and certifications, EDC offered flexibility in programming and integrating the outdated controls and fragmented machinery.


The line’s layout comprised six primary components, each playing an important role in its operation. These included:
1. Uncoiler section: Where the material is unwound and fed into the machine
 2. Slitting section: Where the actual cutting process occurs
3. Scrap winder area: Manages the disposal of scrap edge trimmed material
4. Tension stand: Isolates tension between Slitter and Recoiler
5. Recoiler: Rewinds the processed material
6. Turnstile: facilitates material handling and movement within the line





While reusing the legacy Parker SSD DC drives, EDC engineers retrofitted the slitting machine with a modern PLC and HMI; the controls software was programmed from scratch.  To enhance functionality, EDC modified the operator stations by streamlining interfaces and optimizing control panels. Rockwell Automation / Allen Bradley components were used for the retrofit, including the installation of a CompactLogix PLC and a PanelView HMI, enhancing control capabilities and providing a user-friendly interface for operators. 

In addressing the outdated DC motor used in the scrap winder area, EDC opted for integration of a new AC motor. This replacement not only eliminated the limitations associated with the obsolete DC motor but also improved efficiency and reliability in material handling operations.

Since the line’s speed could exceed 100-200 feet per minute as the coil finishes, the metal tail could pose a safety hazard.  “I programmed in a footage counter and an auto stop on the slitter so the customer could stop near the recoil,” said Joe Maloney. “Once you reach the preset length, it shifts your set point down to a slow speed, and then you run at that slow speed for a short amount of time before it is turned off. We provide the flexibility of being able to have custom programming to meet the client’s specific situation and needs.  We can even add features at a future time as the production evolves.”

Another customization was adding a sensor that integrated with the hydraulic system to automatically provide tension stand positioning.


“It’s almost like we took a bucket of parts and helped them put it all in place and then completely reprogrammed everything from scratch,” said EDC Vice President of Systems Chuck Dillard. “You can get a line from a used equipment dealer, not know much about it and have junk for electrical parts. Our engineers were able to put it together utilizing many of the original parts to create a fully-functional machine.”

“It can take months, if not years, to build a new piece of equipment rather than getting a used piece of machinery,” said Joe Maloney. “By taking older equipment and updating the controls, you can save not only time, but also a lot of money – and that gives you an extra 20 or 30 years of life on that equipment.”

Through retrofitting, integration of modern components, and adherence to strict safety regulations, the slitting line was transformed into a reliable and efficient asset for the client. Despite the many challenges posed by outdated controls, lack of documentation, complex wiring, and more, EDC successfully restored the equipment’s functionality. This slitting line will contribute to the client’s operations for years to come, offering a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to investing in new equipment.