A pilot project successfully developed by RAM Elettronica using Rockwell Automation technology has been implemented across five production sites
The supply chain that produces one of the symbolic products of the Mediterranean diet cannot be stopped. If the millstones stop operating, the entire food system would be in crisis. That’s why companies in this industry try to continually innovate, taking into account not only the intrinsic complexity of the market, but also a thousand-year tradition that must be preserved.
This means that the selection of industrial automation vendors is based on a careful evaluation of their technological contribution, but above all on their know-how and expertise to implement these innovations. It is no surprise that this impressive multi-site project involved Rockwell Automation, a leader in industrial automation solutions, and RAM Elettronica, which today supports 85% of medium to large Italian companies in the mill and pasta factory industry.
RAM Elettronica, an italian company operating in the electrical plant sector, is the evolution of the individual company founded by Vincenzo Scarcelli in 1974, of which he has integrated all the activities. The company is headquartered in Andria, close to the region of Tavoliere delle Puglie, which has been considered the granary of Italy since the time of the ancient Romans. Today the company employs around 50 people at its headquarters, which increases to 100 employees when ancillary activities are taken into account. More than 20 technicians and engineers are involved exclusively in operational design and development. Close to its 50th anniversary, RAM Elettronica has grown from simple industrial systems to the implementation of domestic and international industrial power systems.
In addition to this specialized activity, in the last 20 years they have been working in the field of industrial process automation and supervision, developing their own software, thanks to deep knowledge of industry-specific manufacturing processes.
“Since the beginning, we have mainly dealt with automatic systems and equipment for the milling and pasta industry; we provide automation projects for the majority of medium to large Italian companies, during the years we have also gained experience in other areas such as pharmaceuticals and feed” says Riccardo Scarcelli, Technical Director and Sales Manager of RAM Elettronica. “However, we don’t just look at the Italian market since about 20% of our sales in automation solutions come from abroad.”
Five production sites, one control system
The relationship between RAM Elettronica and Rockwell Automation began in the early 2000s. Recently, this long-term collaboration has been strengthened by a large modernization project for a leading manufacturer of flour mills. A successful pilot project was later implemented in five integrated sites throughout the country.
Prior to modernization by RAM Elettronica, the system was based on a Windows XP solution with a legacy PLC.
One of the client’s main concerns was that they were investing in a non-standardized solution. “This is why we decided to use only Rockwell Automation technology,” explains Scarcelli. “We have developed control and supervision software using solely the high-level libraries of Rockwell Automation’s modern PlantPAx® DCS.”
These libraries made it possible to standardise the same control, monitoring and supervisory technology for all users and process measurements on all sites. This has also guaranteed a security approach compliant with the functional requirements of the IEC 62443-3-3 standard.
“We have created a platform using world class controllers, since the plants are very large both in terms of software content and in terms of hardware. The complexity of the system is impressive with over 3000 I/Os and almost 15,000 tags.” Specifically, the new automation platform is based on Allen-Bradley GuardLogix® SIL 2/PL d controllers, enabling the safety features of the systems. All sites share a single server in an IDC – a multi-platform Industrial Data Center provided by Rockwell Automation – where data is exchanged, allowing real-time control on the plant-floor and the ability to take immediate action, with many advantages in terms of service continuity.
For the supervisory tasks, FactoryTalk® View software was used, while FactoryTalk Historian Site Edition was implemented as the historian tool.
“Using a single platform to manage all the data allows the client to perform analysis on the five sites through external software,” says Scarcelli. “To that end, by utilizing the Historian tools residing in FactoryTalk View, we can perform the required data aggregations in a timely manner.”
As a result, all plant supervision, historian, and data aggregation operations are based on the Rockwell Automation software suite and without the need for additional code development.
As part of its objective to centralize all data, control & visualization resources, RAM Elettronica is implementing a Rockwell Automation solution for the visualization of multiple application instances on new thin client HMIs and mobile devices. The goal is to ensure that operators have full access to data and procedures from the various factory information systems.