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:

  1. Four existing and four new aerators.
  2. Existing and new primary and secondary settling basins.
  3. Existing sludge and reclaim equipment.
  4. All existing and eight new filters.
  5. Existing and new high service pumps.
  6. New chemical feed equipment for lime, sodium hypochlorite, fluoride, and polyphosphate.


Read More | Posted In: Case Studies, SCADA

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.


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

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.



Read More | Posted In: Blogs

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.


Read More | Posted In: Case Studies, Food Industry

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Read More | Posted In: Consumer Goods