PDA Lends Expertise to Conveyor Controls Project

Process and Data Automation (PDA) provided engineering expertise for a conveyor controls project at a beverage company based in the Great Lakes region. This expertise was directed at the design and implementation of new programming of the OEM and plant provided PLC, HMI and motor controls in order to integrate the plant’s existing processing systems and conveyors into a new line configuration with OEM controls. The client requested that the motors be controlled by new Allen-Bradley Power Flex 525 Series VFDs communicating via ethernet, within new control panels designed and built by Krones Inc.

The engineering group at PDA provided the labor necessary to write the controls code that was integrated with the PLC supplied by Krones. While the PLC and HMI code was what the project required, what was necessary was this and additional, engineering for the final design and project administration to incorporate the needs of both client and OEM.

The project was organized for PDA to provide engineering to coordinate and control the existing conveyor and machine centers that were necessary for the operation of the bottling line, and where the existing centers had not been upgraded. This involved blending equipment from multiple manufacturers into a functioning system, coordinating installation, start-up and runout testing between multiple trades. In addition, PDA acted as a resource to both the equipment supplier and the end-client to triage and resolve issues that were outside the scope of one single party. This role was essential in this project because PDA acted as the glue or connection between the new machine centers provided by Krones, and the original hardware installed in the plant. The involvement of PDA allowed the other parties to focus on their core responsibilities.

The solution provided by PDA has led to increased throughput, a more modular system, and reduced project costs. The integration of the OEE data from the machine centers into the line information system (LIS) now allows data to be readily obtained or tracked by the end-client.

Future upgrades the end client is considering are:

  • Line Balancing
  • Control Zoning (currently there is only one zone)
  • Line Diagnostics LD
  • Line Management Systems LMS


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PDA Upgrades Failing Controls for Large U.S. Manufacturer
Process and Data Automation (PDA) reviewed and refined the scope of work required to upgrade failing controls equipment for one of the largest privately-held manufacturers of ice cream and frozen treats in the United States, at their production facilities in upstate New York.  The clients needed the upgrades since the existing controls equipment was aged, unreliable and a DEP mandate for tighter controls and better reporting practices had been issued.

Completion of this project moved the facility from an unknown to a known state with respect to automation, as well as providing a comprehensive system overview contrasting the legacy, existing islands of discrete controls.  PDA not only upgraded the core control equipment but also added Monitoring and Automated Reporting capabilities to replace the manual-entry method at the facility.  PDA also delivered process narrative and documentation, that could easily be followed by the client, integrated disparate controls into a cohesive facility-based model and assisted the client’s ERP team with the integration of key data into the Oracle reporting system.  The agile interactive approach to project planning allowed the client to achieve regulatory milestones in an expedited fashion.  PDA also completed the upgrade of the core control hardware with selected use of existing equipment in order the minimize costs.

The major challenges to successfully completing the project included:

  1. A compressed timeline.
  2. Unknown or unreliable site and equipment information.
  3. Multiple trades working on co-operative yet competing deadlines.
  4. Difficulties encountered in implementing the solution included scheduling, the lack of site knowledge, and competing ideas from key client contacts of how to do it “right”.

The solution implemented by PDA resulted in better visibility of the entire process, multiple adjustment points to fine-tune controls and the assurance that only approved materials are transferred.  The facility now has automated chemical injection processes, separation of fat and valving and motors as necessary.  Further, the tracking and data collection for the chemical dosing and for raw and corrected pH and TSS are available.

In the future, the client could consider increased capacity and different correction methods.  In addition, the introduction of remote monitoring and increased data collection should be considered.

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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