ECS Solutions Acquires the Assets of LPR Automation
Evansville, IN (October 1, 2021) – ECS Solutions, Inc. founded in 1977, and dedicated to performance improvement and innovation in batch manufacturing, has acquired the assets of LPR Automation, LLC of Bowling Green, KY. LPR Automation, founded in 2003, specialized in a wide range of control engineering and automation services.
“ECS is very excited about this partnership with LPR. We have long since looked at the Bowling Green, KY area as a vibrant, growing industrial market. With LPR’s established local presence, ECS can augment LPR’s existing skills with increased capacity and a specialized skillset in batch process automation. Together we can better serve this market.” said Randy Otto, ECS Solutions CEO.
About ECS Solutions, Inc.
ECS is a CSIA Certified control system integrator dedicated to performance improvement and innovation in batch manufacturing. After more than three decades of developing batch process control systems using a total process automation approach, we have the experience and expertise it takes to build powerful, high-performing plants that produce high-quality yields. Because we are dedicated to batch manufacturing the approaches that we have developed over 40 years are all designed to BOOST production performance and quality.
ECS operates under the guiding principles of excellence in all projects undertaken, measured internally by profitability and externally by satisfying requirements, and trust earned by demonstrating integrity and technical prowess. ECS’ core values are instilled in every employee to communicate candidly, build trusting relationships, serve others well by being responsive, lead with the courage to take risks, continuously improve in response to changing markets and technologies, disarm conflict by handling it one on one, seek excellence rather than perfection to meet the objective, and make ECS a better place to work.
Case Study: Integrating PlantPAx into an Existing Process Cell for a Pharmaceutical Company
A major pharmaceutical company was in the process of commissioning a control system for a new process cell and asked ECS to provide site support to complete the commissioning and qualification.
The control system supplier had taken a simplistic approach to keep costs down. A single controller with multiple Panelviews provided the heart of the control system that also interfaced with some OEM skids. The control hardware consisted of a quality Rockwell ControlLogix controller with multiple Panelviews. The controller code was all custom with little use of off-the-shelf products and was an assortment of custom blocks of code tied together, providing minimal functionality.
Little to no thought had been put into the operator and how they would run the system to create quality product. Standard operating procedures had not yet been developed. Producing a quality product was dependent upon the operator selecting the correct sequence of functions from operator stations at multiple vessels. This approach exposed the company to a great deal of risk in producing a quality product and controlling the rate of production.
Case Study: An Expansion of a Water Treatment Plant
A municipal utility asked ECS Solutions to design and construct an expansion to one of their Water Treatment Plants. It was proposed to expand an existing facility from ten million gallons per day (MGD) to a total treatment capacity of 30 MGD and upon completion of the expansion, an existing 18 MGD plant was to be shut down.
Earlier, ECS had provided the configuration and start-up support for the SCADA system used to operate the plant and had installed the existing SCADA and control system at both the plant to be expanded, and the one ultimately to be shut down. The proposal provided by ECS Solutions for the expansion covered the control and/or monitoring of:
- Four existing and four new aerators.
- Existing and new primary and secondary settling basins.
- Existing sludge and reclaim equipment.
- All existing and eight new filters.
- Existing and new high service pumps.
- New chemical feed equipment for lime, sodium hypochlorite, fluoride, and polyphosphate.
Case Study: FactoryTalk Batch Integration into a Control System for a Pharmaceutical Company
A large pharmaceutical company was commissioning and testing a new control system that was limited to providing only manual control of Equipment Modules. In some cases, manual control of Phases was available, with these Phases operating as coordination Equipment Modules but not having the infrastructure capable of interacting with a standard sequencing engine. To run a Batch Process the operators were required to manually enter recipe values and capture report information via an HMI, while tracking all activities in the various units. This allowed significant opportunities for operator errors (errors in setting parameters, errors in running the Equipment Modules in the correct sequence, or, in some cases, the physical inability to run multiple Equipment Modules at the same time).
ECS Solutions recommended and subsequently undertook the addition of a sequencing engine that not only stores the recipes (which contained the order in which the phases should be executed) but also stores all pertinent Parameter Values. With this modification, the operator is required simply to select a recipe together with all the equipment needed to run the batch. The batch engine is responsible for coordinating all the activities, including the parameter value transfer and Report information capture. The system also has the capability to prompt the operator regarding those tasks that require operator interaction. The installation of the addition did not interfere with any existing activities and all the existent code and functionality was preserved, with no changes being required.
Batch Forensics: The Case for Procedural Unit Tags
Simple to implement, unit tags provide instrumental value that can enhance recipe editing capability and execution.
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.
**THIS IS A REPOSTED BLOG FROM AutomationWorld. Click here to read the full article.
Case Study: Process Lines to WIP Bins
The plant of a large, packaged food manufacturer contains multiple processing lines and a series of transfer lines to move the finished products into storage bins. Presently there are six process lines in operation but only four transfer lines, which limits the transfer from processing to storage. For example, if all four processing lines are running different products, it is impossible with the existing shared-transfer arrangement to simultaneously transfer all the products to the storage bins. The addition of two new transfer lines would establish one transfer line per process line, increasing flexibility in routing and ultimately increasing production capacity.
ECS undertook the project to install two new transfer lines, this project being carried out in three phases. Phase 1 added a transfer line dedicated to Process Line 5, Phase 2 added a transfer line dedicated to Process Line 6, and Phase 3 removed the shared functionality of the existing Process Lines and Transfer Lines 1-5. The installation of the new transfer lines included adding new conveyors, elevators, sifters, weigh scales, and slide gates for routing.
Case Study: Taking the Bottleneck out of the Packaging Line
With continually increasing demand, a large, packaged food manufacturer sought to increase the capacity on their 15 packaging lines. Already producing 24/7, the packaging lines were restricted at the back end with palletizing and stretch wrapping. The existing configuration in the plant had four stretch wrappers and four palletizers being shared by the packaging lines and the company wanted a dedicated stretch wrapper and palletizer for each packaging line. Material handling conveyors would be installed to move the product from the packaging lines, through the palletizers and stretch wrappers, and to common offloading areas.
ECS was requested to provide 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 fork trucks. The project was implemented in phases to limit any interference with production. The entire project required 73 conveyor sections, as well as turntables, driven by an Allen-Bradley ArmorStart VFD (variable frequency drive). In total there were 84 ArmorStart VFDs.
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.
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.
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.