ECS Continues to Grow!
Please say hello to Brian Grossman, Systems Technician 1!
Brian joined ECS in 2022 with 8 years of professional experience that includes AC/DC control circuitry, blueprint interpretation, hardware diagnostics, wiring schematics, soldering, relays and pressure switches, fork truck, and programming. Brian obtained his BS in Electronics Engineering from Excelsior College in 2019.
ECS is pleased to welcome Brian to the team!
2022 ECS Scholarship Award
Congratulations to Noah Smith for being selected as the 2022 ECS Scholarship Winner!
Noah will be attending Indiana University in the fall. Best of luck in your studies and as you pursue your career, Noah!
Find out more about the ECS Scholarship here.
ECS Continues to Grow!
ECS is pleased to welcome Santiago Gonzalez!
Santiago is joining our team as a Systems Engineer 3, bringing over 30 years of expertise in industrial process controls and experience in numerous industries worldwide. After doing contract work for ECS since 2018, we are thrilled to have him on board full-time.
Growing up in Spain, Santiago obtained his education in Electrical Engineering. After college, he owned and operated a systems integration business in Venezuela for nearly 25 years. His motion control and packaging experience will expand ECS’s expertise in those areas. Santiago also has extensive experience in Safety Systems (TUV FS Engineer Certified), HMI development, controls design and development, batch management, and project management.
Welcome to ECS, Santiago!
ECS Earns Sepasoft Gold Certificate for the Batch Procedure Module
ECS is proud to have earned a Sepasoft gold certificate for the Batch Procedure Module!
The Batch Procedure Module adds batch processing, continuous processing, and general procedure control, based on the ISA-88 Standard, to the Ignition® Platform. Recipe management is simplified by combining sequence control with parameter values in an intuitive graphical user interface. Real-time data collection of batch details provide analysis and electronic batch records.
You can view our company profile in the Sepasoft Integrator Directory here.
ECS Eliminates Bottlenecks with Flexible Packaging Solution
Industrial systems are generally designed with a perfect balance between product manufacturing and packaging output. Changes to output requirements, product makeup, or packaging requirements frequently create imbalances known as process bottlenecks. The job of process and industrial engineers is to identify the slow points within the complete process and develop solutions to eliminate obstructions. Today’s solutions to a slow point in the middle of the line, for example, solve not only the current issue, but often highlight the next weakest link in the manufacturing chain and the process then repeats.
This situation is particularly prevalent in large-scale food manufacturing where systems designed to create one product are frequently adapted for future needs. Simple changes to ingredient makeup or quantities can upset the balance within processing systems or require the insertion of process steps that are outside of the equipment’s original intent. Perhaps just as frequent are changes in packaging that mandate the addition of new primary or secondary packaging machines to be used in conjunction with or instead of a line’s original machinery. All of these are good problems to have in that they indicate a flexible level of operation, and they create opportunities for manufacturers to support more customers with more products. (more…)
ECS Continues to Grow!
We are so excited to welcome Rich Crow, Systems Technician II, to the ECS family!
With over 40 years of experience in the engineering and technical fields, Rich’s extensive background will prove to be an asset to ECS and to our clients. After graduating from ITT with an AS in Electronics Engineering, he spent the first part of his career in the power generation industry at local Vectren and Alcoa power plants. He then worked for 13 years at PCI/Skanska doing controls work as a systems integrator where he performed project work in a variety of process industries.
ECS is thrilled to have him on board!
Surviving the Great Resignation
A rapidly decreasing number of technical personnel are available who can install and maintain the higher-end equipment used in manufacturing today. “The great resignation and/or retirement” movement, along with changes associated with the recent pandemic landscape, has sent many highly qualified workers to the exits in search of new and often altogether different opportunities. The stage has been set for decades with the wave of baby boomer retirements churning towards manufacturers. Parallel to this has been the increased reliance on high-tech manufacturing machines and processes. These two situations pair well with the idea of future-proofing low-to-mid complexity manufacturing but, in an interesting juxtaposition, amplify the core problem. (more…)
ECS Solutions named on of Indiana’s “Best Places to Work” for a third year in a row!
ECS Solutions was recently named as one of the Best Places to Work in Indiana. This 17th annual program was created by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
The statewide survey and awards program is designed to evaluate participating organizations and honor those with the highest levels of employee satisfaction and engagement in the workplace. This year’s 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.”
To be considered for participation, companies had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:
- Be a for-profit, not-for-profit business or government organization
- Be a publicly or privately held organization
- Have a physical operation in Indiana
- Have at least 15 full- or part-time permanent employees working in Indiana
- Have been in business for at least one year, at the program registration deadline
The final rankings will be announced at an awards ceremony on Thursday, May 12, 2022, and then published in the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine after the event.
For more information on the Best Places to Work in Indiana program, visit www.BestPlacestoWorkIndiana.com.
Automation of Manual Processes
Imagine a situation where your plant floor employees require less training to become fully functional for operations. Also imagine a situation where your employees can be flexibly interchanged on different equipment and operations instead of relegated to a single machine, cell, or role. Now imagine this is done in a way that employees feel engaged and that they are achieving results easily and accurately. Sound impossible? We don’t think so at ECS Solutions, Inc. (ECS).
Every sector of employment has been hit by the employee shortage of the last few years. Covid 19 has certainly exacerbated this situation and ensured that all types of employers have felt it, from the most unskilled labor positions up through the highest level of professional employees. Manufacturing has been hit from all sides and many companies struggle to fill technical and non-technical plant floor, logistics, office, and professional openings.
Times like these force many manufacturers to take a hard look at their operations and streamline however they can. Some outsource both manufacturing and professional functions and some embrace technology with software for automated Human Resources (HRIS), accounting, payroll, logistics, and ERP interfaces. Often streamlining the most basic of operations on the factory floor is overlooked. This is frequently the result of mindsets that simply accept older equipment and processes as “they are what they are” or that newer, highly automated equipment is as automated as it can get. Are either of those situations true? World-class companies find ways to get more from their vintage equipment and they tie additional, ancillary steps into their newer automation investments. The bonus can be that all of this can empower employees as well! (more…)
Implementation of a Data Pump with Ignition by Inductive Automation
There are many tools on the market for historizing process data. These tools typically treat each point of data individually when historizing, which works great for trend screens and instrumentation reporting. However, it is often desirable to log a “set” or “group” of data together, associating many data points with a single event. This use case is particularly common with batching operations, where detailed records must be kept. This can be accomplished in many different ways. One such approach, that of a so-called “data pump,” is described below.
One of our solutions to this challenge is to create and log a “payload” of data each time an operation is completed on a piece of equipment. For example, consider a bulk material addition into a mix tank. This operation contains several pieces of relevant information that can be historized, such as:
- Start Time
- End Time
- Unit (Ex: Mix Tank 102)
- Batch ID
- Event Description: (Ex: “Sucrose Addition”)
- End Condition (Completed Naturally or Manually Aborted)
- Setpoint Amount (Requested Quantity)
- Actual Amount (Delivered Quantity)
- Error % ( [Actual – Setpoint] / [Setpoint] x 100 )
- Pump Speed
In order to capture this information, PLC logic is built into each operation to collect the pertinent data. At the completion of the operation, this data is then consolidated into a single record object, typically a User Defined Data Type, in the PLC. Then this record is placed into a queue object on a “First In, First Out” basis. Elsewhere in the control system (external to the PLC), this queue is monitored for new records. As new records appear, the control system reads the appropriate data from the front of the queue, logs it to a SQL database table, and handshakes with the PLC to indicate that the record has been successfully processed.
Once the handshake is received at the PLC level, the queue is then indexed to discard the previous record and move the next record forward for processing. No records are removed from the queue until the control system acknowledges successful processing of that record. In this architecture, queued data is essentially guaranteed to be logged. Even if the mechanism processing the queue fails, the PLC (and more importantly, the automated process) can continue to run as normal. In this scenario, the queue may accumulate a backlog of unprocessed records, but once the processing mechanism is brought back online they can be quickly processed. Providing a large enough queue object is important because it gives the data pump a buffer. This allows the control system to weather any interruption of communications that might occur between the PLC and the mechanism that processes the records. (more…)