Joe Snyder Talks Shop on Behrend Talks Radio Series

In a recently aired Business Spotlight Behrend Talks interview, Process and Data President, Joe Snyder, gives a revealing look into PDA’s history, Joe’s personal path to entrepreneurship, the importance of being located on the Penn State Behrend campus and becoming a part of Krones. This interview, which aired on January 17, 2020, was facilitated by Dr. Ralph Ford, Chancellor at Penn State Behrend.

PDA began as a 3-person small business and over the last 18 years has grown into a 42 and ½ employee, premier integration firm. Before becoming one of the owners of PDA, Joe worked in a small 3-person engineering firm – first as an engineer and then as the head of Business Development. In his years there he learned the business from the inside out and remains grateful for his experience there for it helped lay the groundwork for how he and his partners would eventually run Process and Data Automation which they founded in 2002.

When asked to offer advice to people seeking to become entrepreneurs, Joe offered that experience actually doing the work for someone else before you open your own business is very important. At some point, you are going to have to sell this idea or product to someone else so that you can grow and you must be able to prove that there is a need for it and that it can be done. The easiest way to prove that is knowing that you yourself have done it so you know it to be true.

Dr. Ford also asked about Krones purchasing PDA three years ago. Joe discussed that PDA had not been for sale at that time, so it was quite flattering when they received an initial offer. As Joe and his partner learned more about Krones and their expertise in the liquid food and packaging industry, this seemed like a good opportunity as PDA would be able to continue their work in Erie while expanding their potential customer base with the help of Krones.

Finally, the importance of moving their office to Knowledge Park at the Penn State Behrend campus was discussed. PDA had always offered internships and worked on Senior Design Programs with University students but moving to the campus allowed for the expansion of these programs and an even better designed intern program. Interns working at PDA do meaningful work and are well-prepared for life as an engineer after college. Joe estimates that over half of his current employees are Penn State Behrend graduates.

To listen to this full interview, please click here!

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Bridging the IT/OT Gap

In a December article in Control,  Scott McCausland, PDA digitalization services manager discussed the need for cybersecurity on the plant-floor and how it really catalyzed when data acquisition (DAQ) devices and historians began to evolve.

Similar to most cybersecurity efforts, PDA deploys defense-in-depth layers that make users secure enough based on their individual needs but still give them easy access to their data. Steps to implement these layers include:

  • Understand a client’s present and cybersecurity architecture;

  • Identify a networking program that can enable growth and continuous improvement; and

  • Propose a network architecture with stronger cybersecurity that uses zones, conduits, firewalls, and DMZs to provide isolation from business levels and the outside world, but still be able to reach them as needed.

To implement these and other modern cybersecurity tools, McCausland explained the most important element is co-educating IT and OT personnel, so they can “play in the same sandbox” because more clients are requiring the two sides to cooperate.

McCausland shared that this new bridging role will help many clients “operationalize” cybersecurity and other IT functions by moving them from larger, one-time capital expenditures (CapEx) to ongoing, smaller operational expenditures (OpEx). “These manufacturing IT people can give OT more data about what’s happening at the IT level, such as how to handle new patches coming in, or when a vendor has been flagged for some issue. This role can also give IT more information about what’s happening on the plant-floor to maintain uptime and aid continuous improvement. Consequently, they can also improve cybersecurity by opening and maintaining communications among all these parties.”

To read the full article from Control click here!

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Network Assessment: Line Specific

You are constantly dealing with:

  • Demand for equipment connectivity
  • Obsolete and aged equipment
  • Disconnected equipment
  • ISA-95 Model standards
  • The necessity for smart manufacturing

You need a solution that offers:

  • Outputs like; status quo network scan, full inventory documentation, traffic scan summaries. and recommendations.
  • In-plant, physical tracing of port-to-port connections including; attaching testing equipment (toning), detailed assessment of all connections, disconnect logging (switch log evaluations), and diagrammed breakdown of origin and destination ports.
  • Detailed security of device configurations like; are best-practice configurations used, strong passwords implemented, appropriate firewall configurations, are unused ports disabled, and more…

YOU HAVE IT WITH PDA’s NETWORK ASSESSMENT!

  • Software/Asset Review
  • Management
  • Processes/Performance
  • Recommendations

Benefits of a line-specific network assessment:

  • Having a full inventory of all key assets
  • Understanding of how network equipment connects to each other
  • Knowledge of network software running
  • Identification of bottlenecks
  • A game plan for resolutions and configuration changes

In today’s marketplace, manufacturers are continually challenged to do more with their existing assets. The PDA team specializes in assisting our partners in meeting this challenge. Whether it is repurposing existing equipment for a new product, increasing throughput, or adding functionality.

Let’s solve the challenge together!

Additional services available for your plant:

  • Digitalization
  • Automation Engineering
  • Plant Support Services
  • Electrical Design

Download our Network-Assessment Sheet HERE!

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Give Yourself Peace of Mind with our Plant Support Agreement

Plant Support Service Agreements from Process and Data Automation (PDA): Offering a Spectrum of Services to Our Customers

There are many advantages to Plant Support Services Agreements from PDA, however only at the point you need support, do you realize just how beneficial it is to have access to a spectrum of services!

Today, we are going to discuss three different, real-world cases in which our service agreement saved the day.

How easy is it really to switch between unique scopes of work? Very easy!

PROBLEM:

A national snack food manufacturer had the opportunity to put this to the test.  “We came to work to find that none of our front office computers would connect to our order entry system, could not connect to the internet and that our IT guy quit without any notice.  My first call was to PDA”.

HOW WE SOLVED IT:

After receiving the call from the plant around 9:30 that morning, PDA had a Digitalization Services Engineer onsite before lunch.  While this isn’t our team’s typical work, our client needed help and our team had the resources. After this emergency callout, PDA worked with the plant to temporarily rework the contract commitment of resources to allow someone from DSG to start their day at the plant for up to two hours a day to ensure that everything IT was behaving for the plant. Doing this allowed the plant to use their PSC commitment to solve this challenge without breaking their budget.

Once the plant fills the internal IT position, we will return to doing the more traditional tasks that we were busy with prior to this event. For PDA’s service department, the goal is to ensure that the client gets the most out of their contract, even if we need to be part-time IT for their office staff.

Can training can be part of our Service Agreement? Our answer is a resounding, “Yes”! When talking about the advantages of our Plant Support Service Agreement, employee training is often not thought of as part of service – but one of our clients discovered that training was their major need.

PROBLEM:

A frozen food manufacturer came to us and explained that their current maintenance employees didn’t have the HMI & PLC skills they currently needed. PDA sat down with them and worked up a plan to help.

HOW WE SOLVED IT:

PDA adjusted their Plant Support Service Agreement to offer training for six months. PDA did handle a little maintenance during the six-month but predominantly handled training. PDA built up a training resource for the client and provided ad hoc training to their employees and the client saw benefits in employee performance very quickly. At the end of that six months, PDA switched back to what their regular scheduled service agreement was. None of this had any additional cost and they remain a happy client.

How flexible is your service agreement and how fast can it change to meet our needs?  A Plant Support Service Agreement from PDA is the most flexible and fastest in the industry!

PROBLEM:

Corporate sales for a food manufacturer landed a big contract that required them to re-work one of their rooms with a very aggressive timeline to finish and the normal sales cycle was not fast enough.

HOW WE SOLVED IT:

PDA was able to re-work the service agreement so that they could handle the design portion (laying out control methodology, IO count, the panel builds) which saved them the time they needed to complete their new project on time.

Our goal is to make our service agreement work for the individual needs of the client and that also means being flexible enough to change course quickly when necessary.

________________________________________________________________________________

The Spectrum of Benefits of a Plant Support Services Agreement are easy to see:

  • Fixed amount of expense on a monthly basis
  • Fixed, variable, or combination scheduling monthly
  • Scheduling to fit your needs
  • Highest priority for incoming service calls
  • Mixture of engineering, industrial IT, service, and other staff to meet all your needs!

________________________________________________________________________________

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.

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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

Plant Support Service Agreements: Part 3
WHO:

Food Manufacturer

PROBLEM:

Corporate Sales at the Food Manufacturer landed a big contract that required them to re-work one of their rooms. The project had a very aggressive timeline to finish and their normal sales cycle was not fast enough.

HOW WE SOLVED IT:

PDA was able to re-work the service agreement so that they could handle the design portion (laying out control methodology, IO count, the panel builds) which saved them the time they needed to complete their new project on time.

Our goal is to make our service agreement work for the individual needs of the client and that also means being flexible enough to change course quickly when necessary.

The Spectrum of Benefits of a Plant Support Services Agreement are easy to see:

  • Fixed amount of expense on a monthly basis
  • Fixed, variable, or combination scheduling monthly
  • Scheduling to fit your needs
  • Highest priority for incoming service calls
  • Mixture of engineering, industrial IT, service, and other staff to meet all your needs!

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.

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PDA is Ignition 7.9 GOLD Certified

Process and Data Automation (PDA) is proud to announce we have recently been Ignition 7.9 GOLD Certified. Ignition by Inductive Automation is the industry’s only server-centric industrial automation software platform with unlimited licensing, built for connecting industrial devices, databases, and business data together in one central location. Now, with the new Ignition version 7.9, they’ve made it easier than ever to get, see, maintain, and manage Ignition systems across our entire enterprise.

The Ignition Gold Level Certification Test covers more advanced features of Ignition: advanced architectures, tag historian and compression, redundancy, SQL databases, troubleshooting error messages, and more. PDA already was Ignition Core Certified which covers the basics of Ignition: architecture, real-time status and control, historical data logging, UDTs and templates, and alarming. It is designed to test your understanding and knowledge of Ignition. 

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PDA is Officially Sepasoft OEE Downtime Certified
Process and Data Automation (PDA) is proud to announce that we are officially Sepasoft Downtime certified. “This comes as a result of years of successfully working with these products. This certification is validation of the dedication of both parties to the success of joint projects”, PDA President Joe Snyder commented.

MES Projects require a different approach than that of traditional SCADA implementations. Project Management, Change Management, knowledge of production beyond software, and a clear understanding of the goals and objectives of an MES implementation are as equally important as having a solid understanding of the MES Product Suite and framework architecture.

The MES Certification program has been designed to ensure that Certified MES Professionals and Certified System Integrator Companies have the necessary skills to ensure a successful MES implementation. As an MES Certified Integrator, our clients can be confident that their MES solution will be implemented in the correct way.

Visit our Integrator Link HERE . 

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Plant Support Service Agreements from Process and Data Automation (PDA): Offering a Spectrum of Services to Our Customers Part 2
Part 2: Training can be part of our Service Agreement? Yep.

When talking about the advantages of our Plant Support Service Agreement, employee training is often not thought of as part of service – but one of our clients discovered that training was their major need.

PROBLEM:

A frozen food manufacturer came to us and explained that their current maintenance employees didn’t have the HMI & PLC skills they currently needed. PDA sat down with them and worked up a plan to help.

HOW WE SOLVED IT:

PDA adjusted its Plant Support Service Agreement to offer training for six months. PDA did handle a little maintenance during the six-month but predominantly handled training. PDA built up a training resource for the client and provided ad hoc training to their employees and the client saw benefits in employee performance very quickly. At the end of that six months, PDA switched back to what their regular scheduled service agreement was. None of this had any additional cost and they remain a happy client.

The Spectrum of Benefits of a Plant Support Services Agreement are easy to see:

  • Fixed amount of expense on a monthly basis
  • Fixed, variable, or combination scheduling monthly
  • Scheduling to fit your needs
  • Highest priority for incoming service calls
  • Mixture of engineering, industrial IT, service, and other staff to meet all your needs!

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.

Read More | Posted In: News

PDA’s expertise on Plant Digitalization leveraged in Food Engineering 2-Part Series

In a recent 2-part Digitalization series for Food Engineering Magazine, Scott McCausland, Digitalization Services Manageroffered his expertise on planning for digitalization in manufacturing plants.

This two-part series takes the reader through the process of becoming a digitalized plant with experts weighing in on how to best navigate the journey.

Part of that journey is a solid assessment of the network environment. That will allow a processor to see any deficiencies and formulate a plan to move forward, says Scott McCausland, “Just because equipment is ‘old’ doesn’t mean it isn’t capable of acting as support to reach a goal. In general, a robust network infrastructure is required.”

Scott later discusses that some machine builders, such as Krones, have already provided a solution that allows the addition of new sensors and data aggregators without touching the original legacy machine. PDA is the North American integration arm for Krones’ Syskron.

Read PART ONE HERE.

Read PART TWO HERE.

Read More | Posted In: Application Stories, News