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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

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

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

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

Case Study: Repurposing a Tank Farm

A large US food manufacturing company planned to repurpose a tank farm, originally used in the manufacture of ice cream.  The repurposing of the tank farm could be considered a greenfield installation, providing various oils to a new fryer system. The new designs would allow the storage and transfer of (1) newly delivered oil, (2) flavored oil to be reused and (3) waste oil to be discarded.

ECS Solutions was hired to help evaluate the existing system which was controlled by five Allen-Bradley SLC 5/03 PLCs.  The ECS engineers determined the IO was sufficient for the planned changes as well as many of the existing valves. ECS redesigned the controls incorporating one new Allen Bradley CompactLogix controller to control the system and an Ethernet network to connect each of the existing SLC racks, which would be repurposed as remote IO racks. In addition, we provided new PowerFlex variable frequency drives to control the pumps that would move the oil from place to place.  An existing Inductive Automation Ignition operator interface application was expanded to incorporate the oil storage system.  In effect, the scope of the project was to evaluate the control systems available and to incorporate new controls where required.

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Read More | Posted In: Case Studies, Food Industry, PLCs

Case Study: Product Life Expiration Automation

All the production processes carried out in a particular process cell within a large, national food manufacturing company, must adhere to certain time guidelines, a consequence of the relatively short shelf lives of some of the ingredients.

A batch process is monitored manually with operators following the batch through the stages and vessels involved.  The production times are recorded on paper by an operator and tracked to ensure the time guidelines are maintained. The batching process at the various stages should not exceed the specified maximum time. Failure to meet these criteria will result in the product being scrapped. It is both difficult and cumbersome to reliably record and track the batch process creating the possibility for errors to occur. The food company sought a more reliable way to track the product life of the batches as well as providing information for quality control and regulatory purposes.  The company requested ECS Solutions evaluate the possible automation of the time guidelines. ECS proposed a solution for the automation but limited it to the guidelines on the “in process batching” vessels. Automation of other vessels and guidelines could be carried out, but due to information available and a desire to minimize the scope, the project was limited to the in-process batching vessels. (more…)

Read More | Posted In: Case Studies, Food Industry, News

From Our Batch to Yours

We did not want to “Zoom” through the Holidays without wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Joyous Holiday Season!

In lieu of corporate gifts this year, ECS Solutions will make a donation on behalf of our clients to the Tri-State Food Bank in Evansville, Indiana in association with Feeding America.

Thank you for helping to end hunger this holiday season!

Read More | Posted In: News

Batch Forensics: Additional Report Parameters Enhance Process Performance

Understanding your process performance starts with having unambiguous data that is contextualized. This data provides information that quantifies and qualifies the different aspects that provide insight into the overall system performance. This data ends up in a repository and gets analyzed to produce actionable information and these reports may look at different aspects of the activities required to make products or to clean the equipment. By looking at the process from the ISA 88 and ISA95 point of view, we are able to provide additional context to the information for which the basic activities are reporting.

Additional information may be added to provide more insight into the activities related to:

  • Quality – (amounts, tolerances, durations, temperatures, lethality, etc.)
  • Cost- (materials, energy, personnel, equipment, etc.)
  • Material information – (lot ID, material properties, storage locations, etc.)
  • Personnel – (who is performing tasks, signoffs, etc.)
  • Energy – (transport, heat/cool, mix, etc.)
  • Equipment – (raw material source, equipment utilization, portable equipment information.)

– as well as other aspects that can be used to make informed decisions. (more…)

Read More | Posted In: Bakery Industry, Beverage Industry, Blogs, Chemical Industry, Food Industry, Life Science Industry, Metals