Therefore, the project became international and multidisciplinary, and required also several working teams from several companies to be coordinated in different countries to ensure the success of the project. However, they shared a common ground: Control Systems and Automation. This area was performed and overseen by the GEA Spain team.
“In this context, one of the challenges was to implement a single solution for the whole plant, including hardware, software and control networks for all areas in the plant, from material reception to packaging,” states Nectalí.
“A common platform, based on products and solutions from the Rockwell Automation® Integrated Architecture® platform, was chosen since the Rockwell Automation solution had already proven highly successful in another Vreugdenhil Dairy Foods plant.”
This decision is confirmed by Hans van der Heijden, project engineer at the dairy company: “Our existing factory includes 17 Allen-Bradley® PLC 5® controllers (25E, 40E and 80E, and 80 SLC 5/04) from Rockwell Automation and our engineers were already familiar with the programming environment. In fact, some of our technicians are trained at Rockwell Automation to improve their expertise.”
GEA was able to take the project forward thanks to its experience in previous implementations, its acquired skills, its previous joint work with Rockwell Automation and its ability to deliver a global support to the project, contributing locally in Spain and the Netherlands.
According to van der Heijden: “Both subsidiaries were extremely helpful in establishing the first definitions of the architectures, and we were offered good support during the implementation process at all times.” After the initial study, GEA implemented Rockwell Automation solutions.
From field devices to the reporting system, all the elements are connected via EtherNet/IP, which greatly simplifies communications and data flow. Allen-Bradley PowerFlex® drives and E300 electronic overload relays, are integrated in the system, easing motor configuration and diagnostics, with Allen-Bradley FLEX™ I/O handling signal distribution.
All the field elements are connected by means of Stratix 5700 and 1783-ETap switches (PDF) to Allen-Bradley ControlLogix® programmable automation controllers (PAC) and Allen-Bradley PanelView™ Plus 6 graphic terminals, and to the different system PCs.