Grantek replaced an obsolete collection of Rockwell software and PLCs with a modern, state-of-the-art automation
Grantek replaced an obsolete collection of Rockwell software and PLCs with a modern, state-of-the-art automation platform leveraging Ignition and Siemens PLCs. Grantek implemented the Sepasoft Track and Trace module in order to improve the flow of information from the plant floor to the ERP system.
The client, a global product developer and manufacturer specializing in food ingredients, was experiencing data integrity challenges between plant floor operators and their ERP system due to processes and procedures that relied on hand-recorded data. This process saw data being recorded into notebooks from the HMI, transferred from notebooks to Excel spreadsheets, and finally updated into their ERP system. This time-consuming process also created discrepancies between what physically occurred and what is represented in the ERP system.
This process contributed to incorrect resource consumption data, as it relied heavily on the operators to collect all information about which ingredient was used. Aborted batches and scrap product were often not accounted for. The process also prevented operators from making timely decisions based on ERP-level data, such as what bulk material deliveries needed to be prioritized.
The client had a diverse set of business requirements that included data integrity compliance, ERP integration, resource tracking, and the development of a unified SCADA solution. Grantek utilized its collaborative Road Mapping process to work with the client to gather all of the requirements for a future-state system while also scoping out a limited initial engagement. This ensured that decisions on the current project were in alignment with and did not hinder the ultimate goal of bringing the plant to a fully paperless system. The combination of all these requirements led to Grantek’s recommendation of Inductive Automation’s Ignition platform combined with Sepasoft’s MES platform.
Using Sepasoft’s Track and Trace Module, Grantek was able to implement resource tracking for process operations, which involved pulling resources from numerous intermediary bins. This system also enforced data integrity from the physical scales up through the MES system; PLC-collected scale data was fed into the MES system automatically and sent to the ERP after completion of a batch.
The Recipe Solution was designed by Grantek to implement customer-specific requirements and included a self-managed database deployment. Each work order collected from the ERP system would dictate its own recipe and parameter values. This flexible solution allowed the parameter values to be changed, added, or removed between production executions.
Grantek deployed hierarchical navigation templates that minimize distraction by identifying screens that have active alarms or otherwise require operator intervention. Particularly on large SCADA systems with multiple PLCs, this leads to faster decision making by enabling operators to quickly focus on areas that require their attention, while reducing time spent switching through multiple screens to find the source of a problem.
ERP integration was implemented by Grantek using the B2MML standard as an intermediate data representation. This allowed production requests and recipes from the ERP system to be automatically loaded into the MES system, for easy selection by operators. Once a production request was completed (either successfully or aborted by the operator) the resource information would be collected for production execution and sent back to the ERP system, ensuring that data integrity was maintained between the MES system and ERP system.
Grantek’s solution, utilizing Inductive Automation’s Ignition platform combined with Sepasoft’s MES software suite, successfully achieved the client’s data integrity requirements. The client’s ERP system is now integrated and is more representative of the state of raw resources within the facility. This solution also improved productivity by simplifying and optimizing the operator experience, while also eliminating the need to hand-record data. This solution also provided the client with the unanticipated benefit of a highly granular traceability framework for data collection that will make full-plant traceability possible during future hardware upgrades. This will greatly improve the overall strength of their traceability capabilities.
In addition to the simultaneous SCADA and MES implementation, the project included significant upgrades to the PLC control system, network infrastructure, and virtual infrastructure. Three Allen Bradley PLC5s were replaced by three Siemens S7 PLCs. Grantek installed and commissioned a network, installing the first Controls communication network for the site. This included the installation of a network hub as well as three Intermediate Distribution Frames (IDFs). Cisco HyperFlex virtual infrastructure was also installed and commissioned by Grantek to support the Ignition server and clients.
Adding to the complexity of the deployment, installations had to occur over weekends. The Network and virtual infrastructure were installed without downtime of the production process. However, the PLC upgrades could only occur during scheduled downtime over weekends. The existing PLCs were all interlinked over AB Data Highway messaging. Due to this nature and how the MES system needed to interact with all three PLCs, it made the most sense to try to convert all three systems and install the SCADA at the same time. Executing this took a period of four weekends. On each weekend, we reached specific testing goals with the installed system before rolling back changes. This was done by switching between PLC5 DH+ communication cards and the existing PLC5 cards and re-wiring the network to switch control of the IO between the PLC5 processors and Siemens processors. After the scheduled tests were complete, the original PLC5 processor and network configuration were restored. After weekend testing proved to be successful, the system was left in to be run during production.
Nov 2018 - Apr 2019