20 years of lines

Success in today’s packaging environment requires flexibility and performance.  Manufacturers need predictable throughput and consistent quality with minimal risk to their contracts and staff.  World-class manufacturers also have a good handle on energy and materials usage as well as a keen understanding of their changeover performance metrics.  As the volume and speed of operations increase, positive results are measured in fractional increments instead of conspicuous steps.  Decisions on partners for new equipment are based on all these factors in addition to the capabilities and reputation of the line or equipment vendor, frequently partnering with the manufacturers who offer the best solution in as turnkey a manner as possible.

Many packagers appreciate all the items listed here but simply can’t architect and purchase new lines- instead, relying on older equipment to deliver reliable solutions for packaging that hasn’t changed as quickly over time.  That doesn’t relieve the owners, managers, and operators of their responsibilities to deliver results while always pushing for higher performance and efficiency from their equipment and people.

Whether purchasing a new line or continually tweaking the operation of older equipment, manufacturers frequently deploy a manufacturing execution system (MES) to help them not only understand how their equipment runs but how to tune the systems for streamlined operation.  MES solutions promise to provide not only aggregate output but also the performance of specific equipment or blocks.  Unfortunately, purchasers of new lines frequently learn that the world-class reach of their equipment providers ends with the physical machinery while ancillary items like the MES packages are outside of the normal reach of the OEMs.  Similarly, operators of both new and older lines are lured into purchasing bolt-on software that promises easy access to any equipment’s data and seamless integration into their business systems.  However, having to coordinate with unique machinery vendors, the implementation becomes complex and costly.

How does a packager not become stuck in the middle?  The solution may be easier than some might expect.  Much like the decision to purchase durable machinery frequently leads to established, reputable firms, the decisions about line MES implementation yield the same level of solution.  Certified Control Systems Integrator Association (CSIA) integrator Process and Data Automation (PDA) has been delivering these solutions for twenty years.  Founded in 2002, PDA began life as many integrators do, with a regional focus and a handful of resultant industries where they thrive.  One of the industries serviced by PDA from the outset has been high-speed equipment, lines, and software related to the packaging of a wide variety of products.

Today PDA commissions dozens of automated packaging solutions each year and they deploy a similar number of MES and data acquisition systems on existing and new lines.  They routinely deliver dynamic solutions that are on-premises, cloud-based or hybrid in architecture.  This steady stream of high-speed line integration and optimization projects has generated a set of capabilities and culture within PDA that is difficult to match in the integration community.  Many manufacturers have achieved innumerable dollars of value based on their Process and Data Automation applications.

Manufacturers routinely leverage this deep experience of PDA.  PDA is familiar with modern equipment and software standards as well as those reaching back decades.  This knowledge includes experience working with both domestic and international machinery partners and standards.  This deep experience means that the PDA team frequently and efficiently works inside both new and older equipment to find the valuable information that is required for business decisions.  In addition, they have established relationships with many of the leading equipment suppliers of today, while their positive reputation makes connecting with new vendors straightforward.

As an independent systems integrator, PDA delivers agnostic solutions in MES.  Whether it is leveraging products from the Krones.digital portfolio or tailoring customized solutions, they leverage their vast experience allowing them to succeed with a wider array of packages than many who lack their background.

The result?  Process and Data Automation delivers flexible software solutions that deliver tangible results, all deployed in a turnkey manner.  Whether the affected packaging lines are new, used, or some combination thereof, the PDA team can deliver an effective solution that will become an integral piece of their client’s operation and success in packaging.

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Leveraging SAP MII for Business Information, Courtesy of Automation Signals

 

Managing a private label manufacturing portfolio can be challenging, and those challenges are only amplified as the portfolio grows to multiple products and divisions.  One consistent challenge facing the managers of such portfolios is determining the level of capital infusion the holdings require to maintain and expand operations.  Protecting operations and new product support are the highest priorities to provide investor returns but, beyond those most obvious requirements, the process gets quite a bit more complicated.

The pitting of divisions and plants within them against each other for a piece of the limited capital pie repeats annually in most cases.  Each entity submits impassioned requests that need to be reviewed and ranked with respect to the entire enterprise’s needs and goals.  It becomes quite important that teams who lack the detailed knowledge of all the sites’ operations can make fair decisions on a level playing field across disparate sites and divisions, all with unique manufacturing operations and equipment vintages.  Boiling down their operations to the most basic components is critical and throughput analysis helps to place all these familial competitors on the same plane.

One major US-based private label food manufacturer knows this process quite well.  With 35+ manufacturing sites that make snack foods, beverages, baked goods, breakfast foods, and candy products, they are quite used to this measurement exercise.  In 2021 they sought to streamline this effort via technology and implement an online system that takes much of the legwork out of the collection of information, subsequent compiling, and finally ranking of the sites.  Rather than a one-time manual accounting effort each year, the vision was to have an online system based on their SAP management suite.  This client determined that tools within SAP’s Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (MII)** application would be perfect.  The only hitch was now configuring the plant sites to provide good information.

The manufacturer turned to longtime partner Process and Data Automation, LLC, a Member of the Krones Group (P&DA).  P&DA has nearly twenty years of continuous operations and has executed thousands of projects for dozens of manufacturers just like this, including many for this client at sites all throughout North America.  A CSIA-certified partner, P&DA brings the exact elements that are needed to make a project like this successful:

Industry experience in making or packaging most or all the products, and thus processes, that need to provide information to this system +  

Deep knowledge of many manufacturers and vintages of control hardware

+ The technical ability to tie all the information from disparate manufacturing operations into the common MII system in a standard format

 

The manufacturer established the protocol at a small set of their closest held, most capable facilities.  Once that pilot proved successful, they then shared the concept with Process and Data Automation and turned them loose at the subsequent sites.  Armed with an understanding of the desired end results, P&DA’s team then visited the affected sites and returned information on how to achieve this at each location.  Some of the sites were in the client’s portfolio for an extended time and shared a similar setup of machinery standards as well as some legacy plant data collection system components.  Many, however, purchased at different times from different prior owners, had neither of those advantages.

P&DA then developed an implementation strategy for each of the requested sites.  Where the client had good information and access to systems’ PLC controllers the P&DA team connected in and derived the signals.  In sites that were complicated by older hardware, non-standard controllers, or non-accessible controller code, the P&DA team developed a “sidecar” system that deployed a new concentrator PLC that connected into required machine signals via piggyback connection.  In all cases, whether deployed in existing or new PLCs, the emphasis was on using both existing signals wherever possible and using standardized code so that all the collection efforts reflect a common methodology and connection style into MII.  This signal data is connected to financial data that exists in the SAP system and the result is accurate, real-time information about the value of operations.

In addition to the machine signal work, P&DA’s team worked together with the client’s corporate IT team to implement the required network topologies so that the data collection system didn’t impede operations in any way.  Segregated networks were deployed and data collection switches were added inside uplink racks so that there was a route for data to take to reach the MII.

The result of this effort is a standardized, level system from which corporate supply chain managers, analysts, and accountants can view information and make informed decisions about where they should focus attention in the form of capital.  Managers watch in real-time as all financial inputs are measured against output and an ongoing grade is generated for each site and, often, each line within those sites.  The new system will be expanded to the balance of the manufacturing sites in 2022 and its data capabilities are already being expanded to provide additional details for ancillary data applications.

 

**SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence is an SAP application for synchronizing manufacturing operations with both back-office business processes and standardized data. It functions as a data hub between SAP ERP and operational applications

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Digitalization Digest: Automation at the Facilities of a Condiments Manufacturer

 

Success in private label manufacturing depends on the ability to produce accurately and effectively across a potential host of end clients and their stock-keeping units (SKUs).  Feeding the “effective” side of the equation includes both accurate production and skillful arrangement of orders, and the ability for the machinery to move efficiently from one SKU to the next.

A major Midwest-based condiment manufacturer has learned those lessons well in their century-plus of manufacturing.  That experience led them to recently scale up operations with the purchase of several high-speed, turnkey lines from Krones.  These lines included container conveyors, container labeling machines, modular system fillers, non-returnable packers, bulk conveyors, and palletizers.  They also included accumulation in strategic locations which aid in the lines’ continual operation but can also complicate operations from changeover and cleanout functions.

Krones’ client reviewed an off-the-shelf order management solution.  They determined that, while that solution may have provided what the client wanted at the machine and operator interface level, it would not meet their desired performance for complete line operations.  Moreover, the client hoped to preserve their investment in their legacy order management system.  Fortunately for them, Krones has an extremely effective solution in their portfolio for clients in North America in the form of CSIA-certified systems integrator Process and Data Automation (PDA).

PDA brings Krones’ clients the best of several worlds in that they are tied in with Krones’ machine manufacturing division. They have unique insight into how to integrate the standard functions of Krones machines, whether a single new piece or an entire high-speed line.  They also have deep expertise in the implementation of Krones’ solutions for various management, collection, and analysis functions.  Perhaps most importantly, as leveraged in this case, they have the experience and skill to identify and manage situations where no off-the-shelf solution will fit perfectly.  They can design custom middleware to connect existing business systems to manufacturing operations – and that was exactly what this situation called for.

The solution for this client included middleware software as deployed via an overall line management PLC.  This solution tied in seamlessly to the client’s order management system, thus preserving the investment that was made there through the years.  Transfer via the line management CompactLogix PLC allows seamless flow of information from the order management system, parsing, and delivery of the exact information required by each machine.  Custom order management screens were added to the machine level Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs), which provide rich, accurate information to the line operators.  The simplicity of the design also allows qualified personnel to see the entire information flow happen very effectively in real-time.  Because the entire solution was delivered by the Network of Krones, PDA included, the customer can rest assured that all systems function harmoniously and that all equipment warranties remain intact.

No matter how large or small, orders are fulfilled with accurate bottle fills and accurate package counts per SKU.  Labels are applied and quickly spliced for continuous operation and changeover, and all critical validation is verified by Check Mat camera systems which communicate back through to the inventory management system to ensure a proper match on each.  Orders are separated by automatically dropping acrylic separator cases and bottles in the lanes so the production orders flow with minimal space, and more importantly time, in cleanout required.

In the end, the lines function exactly as intended by Krones but with the added dimension of high-speed changeover as desired by the end client.  All of this helped the customer to achieve what they wanted in the implementation of these lines – a quantum leap in terms of manufacturing speed and flexibility, minimal changes to existing business systems, and minor adaptations to their new machinery that don’t impair the ability for standard technicians to maintain the equipment.

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PDA Passes 4th Straight CSIA Audit!

 

Process and Data Automation (PDA) is proud to announce that we have passed the audit requirements established by the Control Systems Integrator Association (CSIA) for the fourth consecutive time!

The CSIA is a global trade association dedicated to advancing the control system integration industry.   Since 1994, it has helped member companies improve their business skills, provided a forum to share industry expertise, and promoted the benefits of hiring certified control system integrators.

The comprehensive audit of operational practices including business development, project execution, financial tracking, information technology, human resources, and general management is conducted by an independent third-party firm. Achieving a Certified Member distinction indicates that a company has met stringent standards, is financially healthy, and can complete projects in a professional and technically sound way. Ultimately, certification provides benefits by ensuring high quality, performance, and long-term project support.

Jeremy Anderson, President at PDA commented that “evaluating ourselves against the highest standards in our industry is key to providing the best service to our clients. Therefore, the CSIA Certification process is highly valuable, as is utilizing the best auditor. In choosing an auditor, we wanted to work with the firm that we, and many of our peers, consider to be the best – Exotek. From our first audit in 2012 through today, Exotek has provided the PDA team with the ‘how’ of achieving certification and the ‘why’.  We have left each audit with actionable steps and a clear understanding of the continuous improvement needed to achieve our strategic vision – to be the source of knowledge on, and provision of, Automation and Digitalization solutions for the Food and Beverage industries. “

Don Roberts, the Exotek Auditor, commented, “PDA is exemplary in their implementation of Best Practices. Their quality management system is built directly around the Best Practices document right down to the topic numbering. They have done a great job of migrating from an older file-based system to a SharePoint system accessible by all employees. PDA is leveraging the benefits of their new parent company, but still staying nimble enough to make sure their clients are well served. Hats off to the leadership team that stepped up to that opportunity.”

As certified control system integrators, PDA continues to provide our customers the benefit of knowing they will receive superb technical solutions from a professionally managed system integration business.

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Digitalization Digest: The Addition of Line Management

An energy drink manufacturer recognized the need for integrating features of a manufacturing execution system into its new production line.  After careful consideration Process and Data Automation (PDA) was hired to configure SitePilot Line Management (LM) to the new production line.  LM centralizes the coordination of the entire filling and packaging process – from the definition of the production route based on the order to the labeling of the pallets.  LM provides a continuous flow of information, from production planning right through to the order for the line and individual machine.  This addition adds a level of automation to the production line so that all the processes, for instance, entering orders online or printing services, are automated instead of having to be manual.  The addition would also effectively integrate the company’s business system and the new, fast canning line.  Furthermore, this addition would allow the alignment of orders dispatched from their ERP system to be produced on the new line, as well as assisting operators with transitioning through orders, correctly tagging the finished product, and relaying information back to the ERP system to maintain warehouse inventory.

While implementing LM, PDA found that communications between the line network and the internal network of the company, allowing movement of information back and forth, resulted in issues with the network traffic.  Other issues that confronted PDA arose with the printing, OEMs, and integration of printing and coding devices onto the line.  The company was integrating information from the mixing systems into the packaging line, and it became necessary for PDA to develop methods of reviewing expiration data.  This development allowed the identification of expired products and the operators were notified so that the production line could be stopped.  PDA was unaware of the methodology being followed by the company for this occurrence so that some interaction was developed by PDA.

The addition of Line Management also allowed items to be tracked through the production line.  PDA integrated into LM two other pieces of equipment that were on the production line.  Similar improvements to the existing production line were consistently undertaken by PDA.  For example, two features were introduced to provide more data for reporting the timing of batches and lot association.  It is felt by PDA that this activity demonstrated its capability to deliver above and beyond the original scope of the project.

Read More | Posted In: Digitalization Digest, News

SCADA Improvement For Wastewater Treatment Facility

Project Summary Highlights:

Hardware/Software implemented:

  • Inductive Automation – Ignition HMI
  • Rockwell – CompactLogix PAC
  • Custom Control Panels

Key Improvements:

  • Obsolescence avoidance
  • Migration planning
  • Network design
  • PLC programming
  • HMI design
  • Reporting
  • Alarm management

A large public sewer authority, comprised of a wastewater treatment facility and 28 remote pumping stations, was using a legacy SCADA system with little visibility and central control of their system.  Only the remote pumping stations and a few critical plant flow signals were connected to the SCADA system.  The authority was aware of the expected remaining service life of the system, knew of the capabilities of present-day SCADA systems, and the new regulations required for their industry.  These needs had to be balanced against their budget.    PDA was consulted to provide a long-term solution that could help them achieve a balance.  Considering the limited budget available to the sewer authority, PDA provided a systematic approach to the upgrade, planning the work in phases.

Before improvements could begin, the sewer authority requested that a parallel control system be implemented.  This would provide the plant with consistent operation and ease learning of the new system until the legacy controls were all replaced.  To assist in the design, a tour and client workshop were arranged by PDA with a similar, successful project at a participating regional client.  This arrangement removed any reservations within the authority regarding the new SCADA application.  Sample HMI screens were built allowing the plant operators to gain experience with the conversion.

Overall, Phase One of the project went very smoothly.  Challenges on the project included harmonizing legacy and modern controllers and networks while limiting rework in future phases.  The remote sites currently are communicating through leased copper lines.  Although cellular was considered for future phases, the authority now plans on installing fiber to each remote site.  This will change the communications to Ethernet and will be able to connect each site directly to the SCADA system.  phases will include upgrading these to a consistent, industry-standard hardware, at which time a fiber-based network from a local service provider will be introduced.  PDA planned to ease the Authority into the changes, giving them exactly what they wanted, but minimizing scarring on the project.  Project scarring is most common when upgrades are phased. This means you must complete engineering to a certain level to achieve system functionality during a phase. The next phase may require rework from the first phase to continue advancements. This work is known as project scarring. PDA engineered the project phases to minimize the scarring while designing each phase to fit within a municipal’s budget constraints. This allows municipals to enhance their systems while making each phase financially manageable.

The next phase will involve the addition of Secondary Gate Actuators to be PLC controlled.  Presently to operate these gates someone has go to the blower building and physically open and close the gate.  These operations are major safety hazards due to some of the weather conditions involved and must be eliminated.   In addition, in this phase, PDA will also introduce more signals to the SCADA system in the plant which are currently not visible.  The New HMI (Ignition) screens will be created to show the same data found on the existing legacy screens.  To minimize project scarring, and to conserve budget, PDA will be able to use the same tags and registers in the SCADA screens.  Facility Managers have options when working with PDA regarding SCADA screens. They can choose to mirror the existing screens to minimize operator change management, redevelop the screens to a new templated-based screen development allowing for ease of implementation across a SCADA system, or adopt new standards such as High-Performance HMI visualization. Any option that is chosen will undergo a thorough review of the screens as they are developed in the new platform. PDA hosts HMI workshops that promote functionality checks and review with the municipality as the screens are being developed to ensure that all parties are satisfied with the look/feel of the screens. Overall, these solutions will provide a better (safer) work environment.

No technical roadblocks have been encountered in Phase Two.  The largest challenge was to adapt the scope of the phase to meet the Authority’s approved budget.  PDA led open and iterative planning sessions with the client to triage the highest priority items into the budget allotment.

Future phases will include the upgrade of the control systems at each of the 28 locations.  Also, the installed fiber communication will allow direct control from SCADA to any of these remote sites. Finally, the original alarming notification was very basic. There was one person on the call list and the information provided on the call-out was vague.  The person had to go to the plant to see what the alarm was before addressing it. Now with the alarms going through the Ignition call out, the person who is at the top of the roster gets the exact description of the alarm and can travel directly to the location instead of having to go to the plant to determine the issue. At the end of the projects, the Authority will have a single source of information for their entire operations.  All necessary operations and notifications will be visible to those who need it, when they need it.

Read More | Posted In: Application Stories, News

Digitalization Digest: Improving Manufacturing Processes with Effective Production Tracking

A company that specializes in the manufacture of very large open-die forgings as well as open-die forged products such as discs, rings, sleeves, and shafts from high quality, clean steel contracted Process and Data Automation (PDA) to install systems to determine equipment efficiencies at two of their plants, the first a steel mill and the second a forge. These new systems were connected to the SLCs using third-party hardware modules, to allow effective tracking of the performance of each of the machines, e.g., the mills, lathes, and saws, in the two plants. Of particular interest to the company was the ability to track the occurrence of downtime and to establish the reasons for the stoppages. 

 

With this information, the company hoped to be able to correct any issues that may develop with their manufacturing processes. Presently the company is unable to obtain tangible information from either the reporting or data collection systems operating in the plants to assess maintenance issues or typical production aspects.

 

With the Ignition project as the OEE system, the larger accomplishment in undertaking and completing the project was the aggregation of relevant production data from the vastly different systems. Success depended upon PDA’s ability to find a relatable way to access the relevant information from each of the different sources in a way that was useful to the end-user.

 

The first OEE system was installed and commissioned successfully at the steel mill, leading to the request for a second similar system to be installed at the forge, and presently a third system is being considered. The project was organized into three phases, i.e., Hardware, Visualization Software, and Reporting & OEE. The installation required extensive upfront investigations to collect data automatically from eight machines, including four sawmills with CompactLogix Processors, three mills with Siemens 840D PL/SL CNC controls and a lathe with Siemens 840D CNC controls. PDA planned to utilize Inductive Automation’s Ignition software, which is very versatile and expandable, for the overall data visualization, providing live Data Screens displayed on the TV monitors in production and on the operator’s station at each machine. The connection of Ignition to different technologies with different platforms was involved and it was necessary to (a) identify where the relevant data existed within the machine, (b) extract that data, and (c) aggregate it into a user-friendly form. The development of this capability was entirely a consequence of the skills of the PDA engineers.

 

The variety of machines to be monitored did pose a challenge to the installation of the OEE system. The type of connection to a particular machine to obtain the relevant data had to be determined individually and, in some cases, a degree of creativity was required. 

Several of the Siemen’s lathes, basically CNC machines, did contain a server that provided PDA with a connection port. But the older lathes did not contain this server and it was necessary to upgrade the machine to support OPC-UA, which allowed data to be accessed. (OPC-UA denotes an industrial protocol that allows information to be shared between different machines or devices using a standardized protocol. In general terms it is a method of connecting to multiple things that support the universal protocol). The company completed these upgrades as required.

 

The newly installed OEE system allows the company to track the performance of the machines in terms of uptime as well as recording downtime and provides an overall efficiency number. Once the versatile software is implemented it allows a determination of the lifetimes of the different saws, saw blades, drill bits, etc. together with knowledge of the source of the items and the operating conditions so that selection of items to be purchased is facilitated. The primary purpose of the OEE system, however, is to track uptime and identify reasons for stoppages in production, allowing corrective action to be taken.

 

The OEE system in the steel mill also provided the capability to track performance based on the load on a saw blade. The power consumption of the machine indicates that the blade is cutting a piece of steel and not running idle. Further, with knowledge of the lifetime of a blade as a function of operating conditions, it is possible to predict a likely blade break in operation, which, when it does occur, can ruin an entire run. The ability to change out saw blades has led to improved rates of production.

 

Future considerations for the company already include installation of a third OEE system based on Ignition. Discussions with personnel from the forge allowed PDA to describe the versatility and expandable nature of the Ignition software. It was pointed out that the system was, in fact, an entire SCADA system. 

However, in its current capacity at the steel mill and at the forge, it serves as just an OEE system. A future project will be based on monitoring the electric, gas, and water utilities as well as the waste output from the buildings on one site.      

Read More | Posted In: Application Stories, Digitalization Digest

Digitalization Digest: Lines Configuration

A problem, facing a large beverage manufacturer, was the installed network operating at the plant, connecting the equipment on the production line.  The approach that had been adopted was a hodgepodge that had grown with the plant.  This resulted in the existence of multiple lines on a single network, an arrangement that worked for a while but clearly was not the best practice going forward. For instance, an obvious limitation was the availability of IP addresses and outages to several lines due to unrelated machine issues on the shared network.  New sub-networks were created to accommodate additional lines, but the problem remained in that the original network still serviced multiple different lines.

Process and Data Automation (PDA) was hired to reorganize the existing network and to isolate this equipment from other networks. This required PDA to work with the Client’s IT team to define the new architecture, installers to provide new media (creating a new physical network), and other OEMs to provide the client the correct hardware and programming to meet the client’s new corporate standards.

PDA engineers initially undertook a pre-planning phase, a type of network architecture overview.  The preplanning phase involved choosing and assigning IP addresses for each of the machine centers based on the new machine orientation.  PDA engineers worked with the key stakeholders (Client, contractors, and OEMs) to provide a roadmap leading from the singular, overlapping network to independent networks for the new, independent lines.  That the company intended to simultaneously move an entire network proved to be advantageous since it allowed the rearrangement of things.

The selection of IP addresses followed a pattern that was logical to the actual flow of the line, i.e., machines at the beginning of the line would go to the top of the IP address range.  Much of this work utilized an Excel spreadsheet and was done with the technical knowledge of what the IP addresses represented and how they were to be used.  PDA engineers went on site to use the new IP addresses that had been selected.  This involved accessing the machine centers to reconfigure them to use the new IP addresses.  This did require updating not only hardware addresses in network equipment-line network switches, PLCs, HMIs, and gateways. Machine logic for communications also needed to be updated as messages between machinery followed new paths. As needed to assist the Client in meeting its new standards hardware was replaced.  This resulted in the need to commission the new switches on this new network.

A significant challenge to the work arose from the fact that the company was completing physical changes to the line while PDA was disentangling the IP addresses.  For example, the equipment from one line was disassociated with its former line and reused on the second while needing to minimize downtime.  This interfered with the ability of PDA to focus on just one line, and it became necessary to consider both lines since changes were occurring simultaneously.  A further challenge arose with the changing of some switches, for which the available documentation did not match the actual reality.  It was found that for some older switches it was necessary to reset them before changes could be made.  PDA corrected the documentation where it was necessary, i.e., when it did not match reality, and labeled the equipment to simplify further work on the network.

PDA engineers successfully untangled the lines and networks, taking it all back to its’ roots and rebuilding to give better isolation between the systems.  The changes made by PDA have represented a significant improvement, providing reliability, and eliminating any dependency of one line upon another.  The operation of the machines has also improved.  From the standpoint of administration and management, the changes realized an improvement due to the clear separation of the lines.  Future upgrades would be to improve operator visibility, possibly deploying a comprehensive level package SCADA or MES.

Read More | Posted In: Digitalization Digest, News

Process and Data Automation Welcome Krones’ Digitalization Expert, Doug Brooks, to the Team

 

January 2021 – Process and Data Automation (PDA) is excited to officially welcome Doug Brooks, MES Project Manager, to our team. Doug has spent the past five years building the Digitalization team for Krones and has worked with us at PDA since the integration of our two companies. Having him on the PDA team full-time will benefit our clients greatly and we are thrilled to have him with us.

While at Krones, Doug was involved in every aspect of the Digitalization efforts, from pre-sales all the way through Post Go-Live support. Prior to Krones, he spent 12 years as an ERP Consultant/Project Manager with a software company (partnered with Sage Software) based in the Charlotte area. He oversaw projects including Financials, Manufacturing, Warehouse Automation, MRP, Point of Sale, Inventory Control, and Supply Chain Management. They did not have MES software, so making the move to Krones was an opportunity for growth.

PDA President, Jeremy Anderson shared, “Doug has been part of our extended workbench since our integration into the Network of Krones. His professionalism and client-first focus are a perfect fit with PDA’s culture.  While the extended workbench philosophy was good, having Doug as a direct employee is better as this allows for tighter control of projects that Doug will manage and provide him (and ultimately the customer) better access to our entire team.”

When asked what the driving force was for coming to PDA was, Doug replied, “The original plan was to build a Digitalization team within Krones, Inc, however the acquisition of PDA changed that approach overnight.  I was the lone person remaining in the KINC Digitalization group, so it just made sense to move over to the PDA side of the House of Krones. The vast majority of the MES projects and support that I have worked on in the past few years has been with PDA team members, so I felt very comfortable in making the move from a personal and professional standpoint.”

And what is Doug looking forward to most with PDA and transitioning from Krones?  “When I was hired by Krones, the only other person on the Digitalization team was a salesman.  Since we were a new group within Krones, they didn’t have a defined place on the organization chart for us, so they attached me to the New Machine Sales group alongside my counterpart salesman. Although I met a lot of great people and learned a lot about the sales process, I was always a fish out of water in the sales meetings, conferences, etc. simply because the work I was doing was so vastly different than the other members of the NMS group. By moving to PDA, I am now part of a team of like-minded people all driving in the same direction to get projects completed and satisfy our customers.”, Doug said.

We look forward to working with Doug and building a stronger team for our clients with his expertise.

Read More | Posted In: News

Optimize Production Operations with Share2Act

Digitalization is revolutionizing the world. Share2Act is revolutionizing the beverage industry and rendering its production operations intelligent and efficient. Share2Act networks staff, machines, and IT systems, and is thus the ideal open platform for applications and analyses.

Share2Act is a social media platform developed specifically for companies in the food and beverage industries. It networks all the people, machines, and IT systems involved in the production process – and thus gets us a whole lot closer to our goal: you see, the app enables procedures to be streamlined, communication paths shortened, and downtimes reduced. It groups together all a plant’s information on a central interactive platform. From automatically generated production data to empirical feedback from the staff, a huge array of different contents can be imaged, exchanged, discussed, and jointly edited.

Share2Act networks staff, machines, and dietary systems and is thus the ideal open platform for applications and analyses. All the systems connected can access a comprehensive base of data, which are aggregated and computed using edge devices. Machines and lines can be linked together irrespective of the manufacturer involved, and already existing IT systems integrated through interfaces. Thanks to the modularized structure of Share2Act, the various services involved can be individually and flexibly put together to suit the production requirements concerned. The aim is to cut costs and upgrade quality and productivity. This is accomplished using data-driven decision making, mathematical models that run in the background, and on-the-basis of data to help to make the right decisions. Thus, the user automatically receives information specifically tailored to his/her job precisely when he/she needs it.

In shift operation, for example, by utilizing Share2Act, an operator comes to work and uses his/her terminal to log on to the platform. The shift manager can see in Share2Act which operators are available and allocate tasks accordingly. The shift manager can then monitor the entire integrated production operation using the live visualization feature in Share2Act. The operator sees his/her allocated tasks immediately on the dashboard. On the dashboard and in the timelines of the machines, the operator can also check everything that happened in the previous shift.

Tasks are also generated by the machines themselves, not just from maintenance intervals and error messages. In addition, the machines can output maintenance tasks themselves, which are then assigned to the operator either automatically or by the shift manager. The maintenance tasks are supplemented by SOPs, which describe step-by-step instructions on how the preventative maintenance routine must be carried out. If the operator cannot carry out the maintenance routine himself, he/she can use smart glasses for live support from the machinery manufacturer’s service team. The completed maintenance of the machine is then posted automatically in the timeline and the shift manager is informed by a push notification.

Additional tasks can be scheduled in the calendar, enabling all staff to see what task is currently being performed. After each shift, a shift report is created automatically, which the shift manager can view at will. By using Share2Act, the managers and operators can significantly optimize everyday production operations!

To review more of the features and benefits of Share2Act click HERE.

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