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Boosting Batch Performance at a Salad Dressing Plant
A well-known line of salad dressings was recently acquired by a major food manufacturer with the plan to establish a fully automated, paperless manufacturing process for the production. To do this efficiently and cost-effectively
represented a significant challenge.

That challenge was met and surpassed by the ECS approach to boosting batch performance, which focuses upon providing value at every stage of the process system life-cycle. Thus, it was possible to construct a solution that consistently delivered high-quality products at the lowest possible cost.

Download the Full Salad Dressing Case Study HERE

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Upgrade Of A Validated RO Water Control System

A global pediatric nutrition company recently required an upgrade to an aging RO Water Control System. The validated control system was capable of meeting production requirements; however, the HMI software platform had reached the end of its lifecycle. Much of the SCADA hardware and software was becoming unsupportable and was in critical need of an upgrade. The objective of the upgrade was to bring the system to a current and fully supportable state using the latest technology and methodologies in process control and networking. ECS was contracted to deliver the upgrade. The delivery involved engineering the migration to company standards.

The upgrade consisted of:
• replacement of the iFIX® SCADA system to Inductive Automation’s Ignition SCADA
• replacement of the operator terminals and SCADA host server
• migration of the distributed I/O network from ControlNet to Ethernet I/P
• upgrading the controller to the latest Rockwell controller

As part of the upgrade, the ControlNet fieldbus was replaced with a 1756-EN2TR based Ethernet fieldbus, with DLR (Device Level Ring) redundancy. Existing 1756-ENET ethernet modules were replaced with improved 1756-EN2T modules, and the controller was upgraded to a 1756-L83E.

In addition to the hardware upgrades, the existing iFIX® HMI / SCADA system was replaced with Ignition, an HMI / SCADA platform by Inductive Automation. The Ignition application was made to closely resemble the look/feel of the iFIX® application, with improvements for modernization, usability, and functionality. The Ignition application implemented new features such as ECS’ own historical “DVR” module to provide engineering and maintenance the ability to “rewind” the process on the HMI to a desired date and time and replay what previously happened. The solution also included an improved alarming system complete with Alarm Navigation.

ECS provided all of the engineering, software development, startup and commissioning. As part of the engineering, ECS provided the IQ (Installation Qualification) and OQ (Operation Qualification) documentation to support the validation requirements.

With the completion of the project, the control system was up to date with current plant and industry standards.

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A Tracking and Operational Control System

A manufacturer of high-performance abrasives uses a complex process involving 320 silos or portable storage tanks that store 180 grains with different properties and different lot IDs as well as liquids, additives, and bonding agents that make up the materials provided to seven production lines in order to manufacture 800 products.  A control system that included FactoryTalkBatch was implemented at the facility to:

  1. Clearly specify the procedures and formulas in each recipe,
  2. Enforce execution of the recipe, and
  3. Verify, with data, the completed process.

The previous system not only failed to obtain these objectives, but several issues arose. Code troubleshooting was difficult, as was identification of the source of a problem. Tracking of inventory and of the lot IDs of grain was not possible resulting in a lack of traceability. The lack of batch tracking meant that there was no feedback to the operators.  ECS reviewed the situation and concluded that the control system needed to be re-engineered, this time with the correct implementation of FactoryTalkBatch, Materials Manager, FactoryTalkView SE, Control Logix, FactoryTalkHistorian and S88Builder.

FactoryTalkBatch was implemented together with the ISA S88 standard and, for data flow, the ISA S95 standard.  This implementation required identification of batching units as well as specification of the procedures needed to execute the recipe. It was also necessary to identify containers, specify the liquids and additives involved in the recipe and to identify all the phases needed. It was also important to include the “Material Based Recipe” option, which refers to the materials inventory database to establish the required materials. In the absence of this option the normal response would be to supply materials that had been specified in a previous recipe not necessarily in the designated recipe.

Within the project, ECS Engineers built an ERP interface at which orders were received, allowing production orders to be defined and scheduled for execution. Data was collected to include operator events, time series data and event data, resulting in the compilation of a detailed report.  The ISA S88 procedures showed a coordination of all activities, i.e. grain collection, addition of liquids and additives, bond materials and grain-handling and both Mixer 1 and Mixer 2. FactoryTalkBatch prompts the operators regarding required manual activities.

The re-engineering of the Batch Control system has provided the client with the information needed, i.e., material specification, execution of a recipe, and product verification (with all relevant data).  The system now operates without any of the issues previously encountered.

Download the Tracking and Operational Control System Case Study HERE.

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Convergence of IT and OT

Management of a company in the food industry needed real-time visibility into the manufacturing process. Evaluating the requirements to capture and report the data, the plant became aware the existing engineering network used throughout the manufacturing area was not able to meet the objectives management desired. The existing network infrastructure had been pieced together over the years without design, or thought, of the type of data necessary to provide the visibility management was seeking.

The company had been very proactive in utilizing the best available technologies to automate their processes over the years. A project in 2009 consolidated three independent kitchens, implementing 60 units of Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalkBatch resulting in increased capacity, reduced unit costs and improved consistencies.  In 2011, another kitchen was expanded to with 34 units of FactoryTalkBatch, again improving consistency and reducing costs.

Despite the addition of numerous servers to support the automation, the network infrastructure lacked the robustness and speed required to efficiently handle the increased amounts of network traffic, resulting in increasingly frequent server lockups and network losses. Servers were aging and disparate versions of software were making maintenance difficult and security a challenge.  Furthermore, the plant had no dedicated local IT management for the system. The manufacturing engineers did not have the experience or training to deal with the management of data, servers, and networks and the off-premise IT personnel did not have a full understanding of the production requirements.

With managements objectives in mind, the decision was made to redesign and implement a new network infrastructure to more effectively support and deliver the plants current and future needs.  The upgrade involved network redesign, configuration, and component supply. ECS followed the Cisco/Rockwell Automation Design and Implementation Guide for a Converged Plantwide Ethernet Architecture.

ECS provided the design of the network, with drawings, and both specified and provided the major components e.g., IDF cabinets, switches, etc.  ECS configured the hardware components and supported the startup and migration to the new network.  Such an upgrade was clearly a daunting project. The replacement of the new network would have to be deployed without affecting production. It might be likened to performing open heart surgery on the plant production.  ECS proposed that the project be executed in two phases:

Phase I:  Upgrade the servers and software versions.

Phase II: Upgrade the plant-wide manufacturing network.

To improve reliability, it was necessary to replace the servers with high availability, redundant, physical servers together with replacement of software versions.  Overall the performance would be enhanced by increasing storage server speed (CPU and memory), network speed and providing accessibility to packaging and utilities.  Within Phase I, ECS replaced seven stand-alone tower servers in one kitchen with redundant physical servers, redundant power supplies.  The servers were sized for plant-wide data.

The tasks performed by ECS regarding the network design, the installation, and the start-up and commissioning of the upgrade included the following:

  1. Design of a new plant wide managed Ethernet infrastructure to support the existing engineering network.
  2. Provision of drawings of the network architecture, illustrating the interconnections between network components (switches) and connected equipment (PLCs, computers, etc.)
  3. Determination of actual locations for new equipment based on best practices for routing and distances.
  4. Provision of a document describing the migration plan, with the responsibilities of the various parties involved. Exact directions were developed for the company’s wiring vendor to install the correct fiber and Ethernet runs to the equipment and cabinets as required.
  5. All network cabinets were connected with 10 GD connections.
  6. Each cabinet was protected from surges and brownout conditions by Uninterruptible power supplies.

ECS provided a migration plan for the installation, with drawings illustrating the location of the existing connected equipment and the new IDF enclosures.  ECS specified the type of media (fiber or copper) and the manufacturer’s part number or equivalent of the part numbers for the cables.  ECS also specified each connection point at the IDS switches and the connected equivalent.

The strategy for upgrading the network proposed by ECS involved implementation of a Redundant Star Topology rather than a Ring arrangement.  The Topology provided quicker convergence times, was easier to expand (when necessary and with less intrusion) and offered significantly less risk of cut fibers.  There is no single point of failure if the central point uses redundant hardware.  A negative aspect to the Redundant Star Topology is that all traffic passes through a single point between segments.

For startup and commissioning, ECS configured switches to the required settings to replace existing equipment.  To minimize downtime ECS provided support to migrate existing connected equipment from the current engineering network to the new engineering network.   In total, ECS provided five new IDF enclosures located in strategic arears of the plant with new Cisco level 2 and 3 managed switches.

With the completion, the uptime and availability were improved, server lockups were reduced to zero occurrence, the speed of data storage and retrieval improved for the process kitchen.  The system became more flexible and more data was collected allowing new reports for management and the operation to be generated. OEE has been implemented on the network.

To bring management visibility into a process, a solid network architecture and infrastructure is essential.

DOWNLOAD the Convergence of IT and OT Case Study HERE

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JTM Foods Case Study

JTM Foods challenged ECS Solutions and Blentech to create a SCADA system that included the full spectrum of process automation for their new state-of-the-art production facility. JTM wanted to expand their production capability with a new state-of-the-art facility featuring a Process Automated Kitchen. They wanted to track their process from the ERP Order through the procedural execution of the receipt and material tracking to a finished product. There were multiple solutions evaluated for each of the key aspects, via different islands of software. JTM operates efficiently with a very lean, experienced workforce, however, they prefer to minimize the requirements to support and sustain multiple technology platforms.

JTM’s goal was to have one unified process that could provide all required solutions and features with the primary objectives of the platform being flexibility, ease of use, and sustainability. They wanted to be able to make modifications in-house with minimal expertise, without having to rely on a 3rd party integrator to modify, adjust parameters, fine tune the process and add new products and recipes.

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Swedish Match Case Study

Swedish Match, a global manufacturer of smokeless tobacco products, found itself in need of the automation of collecting, reporting, and displaying their production data. At their manufacturing facility in Owensboro, KY, paper-based quality checks, and manually generated reports were becoming inefficient and the company needed to find an automated solution. ECS was ready to identify the right solution.

Click HERE to DOWNLOAD the Full Case Study!

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Design & Install of a Distillery Dryhouse Project

A major US distillery recently increased the capacity of the Dryhouse equipment in its facility, while maintaining operation until the new equipment was commissioned and fully operational.  The process control solution for the new Dryhouse equipment was designed and installed by ECS.  The Rockwell Automation 1756 ControlLogix platform, together with Citect HMIs, were selected as the basis of the solution.  The system was designed to control fourteen pieces of process equipment in the Dryhouse, including an evaporator, mixer, dryer, centrifuges, a CIP rinse tank and an evaporator cooling tank.  Some of the OEM components had a dedicated controller and required specific means of control.

The system was configured to operate with faceplates and HMI objects similar to those in use in the facility.  All designs for the control system, including drawings of the network, control panel, and electric I/O, were provided by ECS, together with programming, start-up, and commissioning services.  ECS also provided the controller hardware and all I/O components, which included desktop flat screen monitors, Logics Supply Industrial PCs, and a Windows 7 operating system.  Citect licenses were obtained by ECS as an extension to the existing Citect application.

The I/O for the new equipment was configured to be remote to the existing controller. ECS modified the existing ControlLogix controller program to ensure that the new equipment was controlled to meet the required functions.  ECS also fully tested the new HMI screens to verify that all input devices, numeric fields, animation, and faults were functioning as required.  Certain components of the system, e.g. sequences, procedures, and process variables for controlling devices, were simulated to test the logic in the controller.

Documentation and drawings for the new equipment were delivered by ECS including I/O schematics showing field devices, communication/network schematics and a system manual containing all literature provided by the manufacturers of the components of the system.

 

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A Batch Solution to Address Immediate Needs and Future Improvements

A bread supplier for one of the biggest sandwich-shop chains in the US found itself in a pickle when the computer system running its custom batch management system (BMS) reached the end of its useful life. The quandary was that the BMS was not designed to work with a newer Windows operating system, which any new computer would be running. Going back to the OEM that designed the BMS was not an option, since the OEM had since moved on to a newer custom solution, and the individual who had developed the bread supplier’s custom BMS was no longer around. Faced with a failing computer system and obsolete BMS software – either of which could easily cause a costly production shutdown if it suffered a failure – the bread manufacturer started looking for a BMS alternative.

Once burned, twice shy: Moving from custom to COTS

There was no question that the bread supplier’s next solution for batch management would be a commercially off-the-shelf (COTS) BMS, rather than a custom system. After all, going with a custom approach is what left the company in the tough position of not being able to upgrade the BMS or the likely-to-fail computer on which it was running. The company found Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk Batch to be a solid choice to replace the custom BMS and accepted Rockwell’s suggestion to have ECS implement the new solution. ECS modified the manufacturer’s original ControlLogix PLC code to interface with the new system and then installed, commissioned and provided startup services onsite.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to improve productivity

ECS was probably not the only systems integrator with the technical ability to design and set up the manufacturer’s new BMS solution. But ECS was the one that was able to go far above and beyond simple implementation to enable significant business improvements. Rather than narrowly defining the scope of the project as just migrating to a new system, ECS took advantage of the opportunity to make productivity improvements to reduce customer costs and increase capacity over time. ECS specifically altered the existing system logic to more efficiently utilize the equipment, reducing cycle time and increasing equipment availability and plant capacity by 20%.

The productivity payoff

With the 20% increase in existing system availability and capacity, the manufacturer has been able to substantially increase production and revenue. This in turn has made it possible to delay the addition of a second manufacturing line, which would have required a major capital expenditure. After realizing these benefits, the company contracted with ECS to roll out its model-based Total Process Automation approach to gain additional efficiencies and flexibility.

Additionally, the commercial off-the-shelf, ISA-88 compliant, batch management system made is significantly easier and less costly to add new products than with the OEM provided solution ECS replaced.

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