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.

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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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