« Back to Blog

- 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

Digitalization Digest: Upgrade to a Food & Beverage Plant

The next entry in our Digitalization Digest, articles and thoughts regarding manufacturing plant digitalization, focuses on a project for an international manufacturer of private label food and beverages across North America and Italy for retail grocery, food service, and industrial customers.

Limited production capacity, due in part to an obsolescent network within the plant, had become a major problem. Process and Data Automation (PDA) commissioned and tested the production equipment, as well as evaluated and programmed the control network which included PLC and HMI work. During the evaluation step, it was established that the existing pumps in the plant and their VFD controls were unable to meet production needs and should be replaced. In addition, the existing controls operated on DeviceNet, a system that the plant had already decided to phase out, represented a further limitation.

PDA recommended the installation of an Ethernet control system with retention and careful use of the existing legacy PLC processor. Upon further discussion and evaluation, it was then determined that network evaluation, together with a segregation strategy, was essential to ensure that the increased traffic from the new equipment would not interfere with other operations in the plant. PDA provided the engineering and hardware for the PLC programming to integrate two new SPXFlow Universal TS series pumps and replace two Powerflex 40 drives with Powerflex 525 drives.

During the project, problems associated with merging new technologies with the aging infrastructure were successfully overcome by being able to provide the plant with a more modular system, as well as the capability to meet the production demands.  Also, by using the approach of retaining functional legacy equipment, the overall cost of the project was significantly reduced.

Overall, the changes to the plant simply represented an upgrade to the existing processing system and replacement of the older controls that had operated at a lower feed rate. The new equipment provided enhanced diagnostic capabilities that allow both tracking and recovery of data. PDA discussed with the client the need for future improvements in the plant, including:

  • Upgrading the obsolete PLCs
  • Line Diagnostics/OEE
  • Network migration (DeviceNet to Ethernet) for the remaining legacy equipment

PDA is a full-service, CSIA Certified industrial control systems integration firm. The Controls Engineering group specializes in physical automation system design, programming, and commissioning. PDA also features a dedicated Digitalization Group (DSG) that connects automated equipment and systems to the business system environment including protected recipe systems, data collection and reporting, and data historian implementation. DSG can provide the systems you need to set your systems up for proper operation and then provide the tools you need to make sure you execute as planned.

Read More | Posted In: Digitalization Digest, News

Upgrade to Grit Well Controls for a Pennsylvania Borough WWTP

The latest entry into our Digitalization Digest consists of a project for a Pennsylvania Borough of an existing Grit Well control system that was based on a DCS system. The system was proving to be very costly and now effectively obsolete and could not be readily expanded. The system’s age made replacement of parts difficult, with long lead times and limited sources for the required parts.

For the new system, it was decided that the remote DCS I/O would best be a new Modicon hardware, to include a new PLC and panel to replace the existing remote panel. Modicon provided compatibility with the WWTP – supplier Activar VFDs as well as accessibility for product spares and replacements. The software selected for the control system was Ignition, an affordable product providing unlimited clients, unlimited data points, unlimited screens and remote alarming via email/SMS. A further advantage to the Ignition platform is that scalability is very cost-effective relative to the leading competitors. Additionally, the Ignition software was selected by PDA for the SCADA aspect as well as for the overall visualization of the project.

The new system is a standalone control system operated via Ignition. For estimation purposes, data collection was assumed to occur on up to 25 points and initially, the data points were collected and stored within the existing SQL database for the DCS system. As the changeover progressed the existing database became the Ignition database and provided historical long-term storage for both data sets.  This action was predicated upon PDA having full access to the SQL database.

PDA provided the labor for engineering and data services, as well as for the system I/O requirements.  PDA also provided hardware, including the main control panel that housed the controller, all M340 rack-based I/Os and an M340 rack for future expansion. This panel was also fitted with a door-mounted HMI touch screen for local control of the system. All control equipment was pre-installed in the cabinet, together with E-stop equipment, power requirements, and miscellaneous panel components.

At the completion of the project an internal assessment led to the following observations:

  • Any potential customer can benefit from the solution that was presented to the Pennsylvania Borough. It is applicable to a large municipal system or a large manufacturing plant, looking for a more custom based solution.
  • The focus of the solution was to alleviate ever-rising costs in maintaining older control systems and yet avoid licensing costs that can force a client to stay with the obsolete system.
  • The water authority had the ability to test the system and, if satisfied, begin their phased migration.
  • Ignition creates an interface that is user-friendly and both flexible and expandable. The best practices used by PDA ensure that the platform is pre-loaded with useful scripts and memory tags, allowing convenient setting up of new screens and advanced techniques, as well as maintaining low costs for any future modifications.
  • The most difficult part of the project was determining what could be removed from the existing DCS system and incorporated into the new controlled system.
  • Training was provided allowing the customer to become self-sufficient.

PDA is a full-service, CSIA Certified industrial control systems integration firm. Our Controls Engineering group specializes in physical automation system design, programming, and commissioning. We also feature a dedicated Digitalization Group (DSG) that connects automated equipment and systems to the business system environment including protected recipe systems, data collection and reporting, and data historian implementation. DSG can provide the systems you need to set your systems up for proper operation and then provide the tools you need to make sure you execute as planned.

Our Digitalization Digest includes articles and thoughts regarding manufacturing plant digitalization.

Read More | Posted In: Digitalization Digest

Digitalization Digest: Issue 1 – Network Review and Upgrade

Network Review and Upgrade for a Chemical Company

The first entry in our Digitalization Digest (articles and thoughts regarding manufacturing plant digitalization) consists of an Ethernet modernization planning project for a chemical company located in the southeastern USA.  The company has seven distinct site locations on a campus that employs hundreds of people. The project was to gather information on all switches, media connections, and equipment related to the network for the purpose of executing a methodical, phased upgrade.

The review process included assessments of over 150 managed and unmanaged switches, the main distribution frame (MDF), all intermediate distribution frames (IDF), as well as the connections from industrial switches at the site to each other and to computers/databases/terminals.  The project was specifically targeted at Level 1 and higher on the ISA-95 model, not focusing on PLC connections to the production processing equipment level.

The company had a moderately accurate inventory of their managed switches and main computers (essentially everything with an IP address).  The network is monitored by two different pieces of management/monitoring software (MNS), these being IntraVUE and WhatsUp Gold.  However unmanaged switches, fiber media converters, and patch panels had not been inventoried effectively and devices like these had been added throughout the campus over the years.  Added challenges were that much of the hardware was fifteen years old or older and had been installed in an open-air plant environment so that the exteriors of the machines etc. were in poor condition.

Post onsite investigation, a plan was generated to consolidate equipment – multiple smaller switches were to be replaced by larger switches.   Reuse of the patch panels was originally considered, but after discussions with the client, it was evident that newer update patches would be preferred in most cases. Every effort was made to create the lowest quantity of unique situations, i.e., minimizing variability and design time, and to reuse existing punch-downs if serviceable and able to be transferred into new enclosures.

A proposal was completed for migration of each site and included the following:

  1. Recommendations for overall system planning and architecture accounting for available connections and transmission lines, required routes of communication, and best practices with respect to layers, VLANS, etc.
  2. Hardware plan per site.
  3. Labor per site for both configuration and deployment.
  4. The client was self-installing Visio documentation so that generation/update of existing system drawings would be performed in that medium.

PDA developed plans to move forward and provided documentation for each of the seven sites that identified all components of the network, with photographs and labels.  The project is ongoing, and every effort will be made to provide easier access to the network as well as the ability to identify problems when they arise.  Further upgrades to any of the seven sites will be more readily achieved as they become necessary.

PDA is a full-service, CSIA Certified industrial control systems integration firm. Our Controls Engineering group specializes in physical automation system design, programming, and commissioning. We also feature a dedicated Digitalization Services Group (DSG) that connects automated equipment and systems to the business system environment including protected recipe systems, data collection and reporting, and data historian implementation. DSG can provide the systems you need to set your systems up for proper operation and then provide the tools you need to make sure you execute as planned.

Read More | Posted In: Digitalization Digest, News

PDA to Exhibit at Manufacturing & Technology Industry Week Event

Process and Data Automation (PDA), a member of the Krones group, will be exhibiting at Booth #616 at the Manufacturing & Technology Industry Week event, April 1-3, 2019, in Pittsburgh, PA. PDA will be highlighting their Digitalization Group services, as they are the solution in North America for:

  • Industrial Automation
  • IT Platform Development
  • Industrial Networking and Infrastructure
  • SitePilot Suite Integration

The Manufacturing & Technology Industry Week event is a one-stop experience that brings together manufacturing decision makers, from design to delivery, and keeps them at the forefront of manufacturing’s digital transformation.

Stop in and visit us at Booth #616 to learn more about how PDA can support your next project.

 

Read More | Posted In: Digitalization Digest, News

Digitalization Digest: Why Integrated Systems?

Manufacturers throughout the United States are beginning to enjoy fully integrated systems.  This doesn’t just mean integrated equipment lines, rather, it includes real-time ERP connectivity, connectivity to labeling software and systems, connectivity to physical warehouse via AGV interface and control, and connectivity to the finished goods storage. As plants need to deal with increased capacity requirements or added products, flexible packaging cells, multi-reel labelers, automatically-delivered materials for all portions of packaging, and flying line changeovers, integrated systems can help plants deliver on these requirements.

Generally, these manufacturing systems can be added, or capacity increased via the aforementioned equipment.  However, today’s plants are running increasingly fast and complex packaging solutions that are not as easy to duplicate or extend. Thus, every second of uptime counts when getting the most from packaging assets.  A system that is properly tuned to operate as an integrated system is one that provides immediate, relevant information and connects the machines, the personnel, and the maintenance software operations. For example, a line which can alert operators to pending or existing maintenance requirements, while simultaneously requisitioning the required parts and re-ordering those same supplies, is easier for the plant staff to operate holistically.  The largest pitfall remains legacy equipment that cannot participate in the connectivity the way adjacent equipment or lines are able.  Ultimately, the systems affect personnel and integrated systems help to have personnel more connected with the entire operation, and the true power of integrated systems is realized!

Digitalization Team at PDA

The Digitalization Digest is written by Process and Data Automation and provides real-world thoughts through 1st hand experiences, speaking to the why and how manufacturing should move to a fully digitalized plant operation!

 

Read More | Posted In: Digitalization Digest, News