Pinnacle Foods: Overcoming an Accelerated Schedule While Building Ongoing Value

Pinnacle Foods’ plan to reinvigorate the iconic Wish-Bone® brand of salad dressings acquired from food giant Unilever included deploying a fully automated, paperless manufacturing process.

When one of the top producers of branded food products in the US acquired a popular salad-dressings business, the clock started ticking on getting a manufacturing facility up and running to support the new product line. Working with an industry-leading process systems builder, and guided by the strong recommendation of a batch management software expert, the company chose ECS to provide integrated process automation and controls for the new facility. ECS responded with a solution to automate the entire process from the time an order is released from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to the time the completed product is ready at the end of the packaging line.

Who says speed and quality don’t mix?

Delivering a high-quality process automation and controls solution in an accelerated 18-month schedule would challenge most integrators. But ECS’ Total Process Automation solution, with its model-based approach to batch process control, enabled the company to deliver the required software just eight short weeks after completion of piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs).

The model-based approach means that ECS can apply consistent yet configurable programming standards from one process to the next within a plant. This eliminates the need for time-consuming, costly custom programming, dramatically shortening the time required to provide a high-quality integrated system of process automation and controls.

Configuration flexibility during – and after – deployment

Equipment and process changes during new-system commissioning are par for the course in the food production industry. But it can be costly and complex to adapt traditional custom software deployments to accommodate these changes. The configurable programming standards that characterize ECS’ Total Process Automation solution instead made it easy to adjust software configuration to accommodate changes and optimizations during commissioning. In the future, that same flexibility can be applied to quickly and easily make any further adjustments that may be needed as a consequence of facility expansion or other changes.

Built with operator productivity in mind

ECS’ model-based approach also results in a consistent, uniform set of control processes that are easy for operators to learn and remember. In addition, the use of consistent, repeatable configuration standards also enabled the engineering team on this project to spend less time programming – and more time getting operators acquainted with the controls and helping them run production in the initial period after deployment.

Because the intuitive controls allow operators to focus on the processes they’re carrying out, rather than on the equipment they’re using to do it, the facility’s owners can also expect the highest levels of operator productivity over time.