News

Case Study: Packaging Line Stretch Wrappers

A large, packaged food manufacturer requested the construction of a conveyor line in their plant.  Referred to internally as a greenfield project, it entailed the installation of new shrink wrappers and palletizing equipment.  The existing configuration in the plant had four stretch wrappers and four palletizers being shared by 15 packaging lines and the company wanted a dedicated stretch wrapper and palletizer for each packaging line. ECS was responsible for the controls on the entire system, as well as establishing communications with the stretch wrappers and the palletizers. The bulk of the work was the transfer of the pallets either down the line, or into the line and onto two different areas where they could be picked up by trucks.  Phase 1 of the two-phase project had eight pickup stations and the additional four stations were installed in Phase 2.  This required 73 conveyor sections- each section being about if a pallet and each section, as well as the turntables in the system were driven by an Allen-Bradley ArmorStart VFD (variable frequency drive).  In total there were 84 ArmorStart VFD’s on the whole system.

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Read More | Posted In: Food Industry, Inductive Automation

Case Study: Ignition at Large Food Manufacturer

A large food manufacturer requested assistance from ECS Solutions in replacing a SCADA/HMI system that was unreliable and difficult to maintain. After consultation with us, they selected the Ignition platform from Inductive Automation.  Ignition provides a reliable platform that can be supported and developed internally or by system integrators. Ignition would provide the power to reliably replace the existing system and the flexibility to extend the application to other functional areas of the plant, allowing visibility across the plant from a single system. Additionally, Ignition allowed one common platform to be used to control the processing and the packaging areas of the plant.

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Read More | Posted In: Case Studies, Food Industry

5 Reasons Why Ignition is the Future of the Food & Beverage Industry

*Thank you to Inductive Automation for including us in this important piece!

In today’s world, automation is a necessity for all manufacturers. Food and beverage manufacturers in particular face a variety of challenges that make an investment in automation and supervisory control essential to remaining competitive. The market changes abruptly and often: recipes need to be reformulated to accommodate diet trends, the constant demand for innovative packaging to attract new customers, and seasonal variance of production requirements are all factors that must be considered.

Beyond FDA and FSMA regulations, manufacturers must also take into account classification and segregation of allergens during formulation and equipment cleaning, a process that mirrors requirements in the pharmaceutical industry. “The way we’ve been doing things for a long time is based on our pharmaceutical experience and seeing how food and pharmaceutical are kind of like coming closer and closer. In terms of the automation solution, it will look the same to us. It doesn’t matter if it’s food or if it’s medicine,” said John Parraga of ECS Solutions. Simply put, insufficient interoperability can endanger both public health and an organization’s bottom line.

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Read More | Posted In: Inductive Automation

Case Study: Proprietary Replacement

For many years, a large nutrition company used a Proprietary program that was developed in-house, to manage the recipe database and to calculate the mass balances of the ingredients to meet the nutritional profile of each product. The application/program has become difficult to support and maintain. The customer approached ECS Solutions to undertake a review of the Proprietary application and recommend how it may be replaced or rewritten.

ECS engineers quickly recognized that Proprietary was a custom application, written in Microsoft access with a significant amount of custom VBA code incorporated into FactoryTalkView. The problem became how to obtain the functionality of the Proprietary application in something that was more manageable, accessible for troubleshooting, and ideally “off-the-shelf”. ECS engineers recommended that since the client was running FactoryTalkBatch in their operations, simply adding the Material Manager feature, which is a free add-on with FactoryTalkBatch, the required functions would be obtained. The customer’s management felt that ECS had to dig in and truly understand the very complicated Proprietary application and how critical it was to their operations.

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Read More | Posted In: Case Studies, FactoryTalk Batch, Food Industry

Case Study: Upgrades for a Large Taste & Nutrition Company

A large taste and nutrition company that produces flavored breadcrumbs requested assistance from ECS Solutions to install and upgrade a mixer associated with their breadcrumb line 1. The company had purchased the same type of mixer that is presently used in production but wanted the controls to operate in the same way as those in the existing mixer. Assistance was also requested to reconfigure two lines; the aforementioned breadcrumb line 1 & an additional bread crumb line.

The company had purchased a new mixer from Peerless Food Equipment and required assistance with its’ installation into the breadcrumb 1 line and modification to the controls.  The mixer was the same type as that being operated in the line, but the company wanted the controls to operate in the same way as those for the existing mixer 2. The new mixer was equipped with an HMI which ECS decommissioned and then programmed the existing mixer 2 HMI to operate both mixers. The operator interface terminal was also programmed to switch between the two mixers. The large taste and nutrition company had determined that these changes could significantly reduce the downtime being experienced by the line.

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Read More | Posted In: Case Studies, Food Industry

Case Study: An Upgrade to Ignition Sepasoft “Perspective” OEE & Downtime Module

A global consumer goods manufacturer hired ECS Solutions to evaluate and install an upgrade of an Ignition Application from Version 7.9 to Version 8.1. Version 7.9 was originally installed by ECS Solutions.  The overall objective for the company was to have a web-based client application that was independent of Java and based on HTML5.  The upgrade included a reconfiguration of the MES software to improve its effectiveness.

The previous Ignition “Vision”-based Application did provide the functionality to monitor Equipment Downtime and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), but the use of Java within the Ignition modules conflicted with other applications at the site and made it difficult to access throughout the organization.  Migration to the web-based Perspective Platform allowed ECS to significantly lighten the application and to focus on the most important data.  The new version of the Sepasoft OEE module also made it possible to simplify how the workstream was modeled within the Sepasoft Production module.  The company required this application be designed to work with both PCs and iPads.

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Read More | Posted In: Consumer Goods

Batch Forensics: The Case for Procedural Unit Tags

A Unit Tag is a class-based tag that identifies a characteristic of a unit.

The values of these tags are usually associated with information captured via the control systems analog and digital Input cards, signals like Temperature, Weight, Pressure, Level, Conductivity, pH, Level Switch, etc. Other unit tags can contain the status, state, material of construction, or any other user-defined attribute that can enhance the recipe editing capability and execution.

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Read More | Posted In: Bakery Industry, Beverage Industry, Distilleries, Food Industry

Batch Forensics: The Case for Link Groups – Class based Unit Synchronization

To coordinate activities between units, take advantage of product functionality to greatly reduce controller code. Programing and unit coordination are used during activities such as material transfer from one unit to another and may be used to coordinate recipe pause points in a unit while the recipe of another unit reaches the desired step, or may be used to transfer process data from one unit to another for further evaluation, etc.

Using product functionality to create a class-based solution while minimizing programming greatly simplifies the complexity of the code. The product functionality consists of link groups and Phase logic phase requests (PXRQ for phase manager phases and RQ for classic OPC phases).

To better understand its usability, we will use a sample process consisting of units capable of transfer material with each other, One to Many, Many to One, Many to Many. In any of these examples, keeping track of who the groups involved in a synchronization can be as simple as specifying the required pairs (more than two concurrent can be done as well) in the procedural (recipe) model.

Let’s look at several scenarios:

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Read More | Posted In: Batch Boosters, FactoryTalk Batch

Strong Collaboration & Swift Implementation (Episodio en Español)

El presidente de ECS Solutions, Tim Matheny junto con Brad Logsdon, analista de negocios de Swedish Match se juntaron con Travis Cox el Codirector de ventas de ingeniería de Inductive Automation para una entrevista acerca del proceso de la implementación de Ignition para el análisis de sus negocios.

En este video, John Parraga nos resume en Español el contenido de esa reunión que explica como Swedish Match de Norte América llegó a utilizar la plataforma de Ignition para resolver problemas de negocios reales, y como el departamento de informática lideró la inversión inicial en su facilidad de Owensboro Kentucky.

Escucha el podcast aquí !

Read More | Posted In: Inductive Automation

ECS Solutions Named One of the Best Places to Work in Indiana for 2021

ECS Solutions was once again named as one of the Best Places to Work in Indiana. This 16th annual program was created by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Best Companies Group.

This statewide survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the participating employers in Indiana with the leading workplace cultures. The list is made up of 125 companies.

“We have many tremendous employers in the state, so it’s great to see more and more companies take part in this effort to evaluate their workplace cultures and gain the recognition they deserve,” says Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “These companies consistently demonstrate to their employees how much they value their contributions.”

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Read More | Posted In: News