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.

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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.

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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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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.

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We’re Not Your Average DSG Team!

Process and Data Automation’s (PDA) Digitalization Group (DSG) is not your average software integration group. PDA places a lot of emphasis on training for the benefit of our customers and as such, makes sure that members of the DSG group are certified as ISA/IEC 62443 Cybersecurity Fundamentals Specialists and have obtained Cisco Routing and Switching Certification among other industry certifications.

ISA has developed the ISA/IEC 62443 Cybersecurity Certificate program to increase knowledge and awareness of the ISA/IEC 62442 standards. The first certificate in the program is the ISA/IEC 62443 Cybersecurity Fundamentals Specialist.  The specialist certificate program is designed for professionals involved in IT and control system security roles that need to develop a command of industrial cybersecurity terminology and understanding of the material embedded in the ISA/IEC 62443 standards. The ISA/IEC 62443 Cybersecurity certificates are awarded to those who successfully complete a designated training course and pass the exam.

“As Cybersecurity becomes a focus in the industry, we wanted to add more credibility to our networking team. Having the ISA perspective allows our customers to see that we have dedicated and direct experience with industrial networking and industrial cybersecurity”, PDA Data Services Manager, Scott McCausland shared.

Earning a Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching certification is one of the best ways for PDA employees to provide our clients with expert networking. Cisco pioneered routing and switching technologies—and continues to lead the way, with the greatest market share and largest installed base across many industries. The overwhelming majority of today’s Internet traffic travels over network pathways built with Cisco infrastructure products. Equally important is the fact that certification keeps our DSG group current with all of today’s technology.

PDA is proud to have a world-class DSG group that is always on the forefront of the latest technologies. Our customers can be assured that our team is one of the most skilled and knowledgeable in the field.

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 Data 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.

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