Case Study: Simple Line Integration Slashed Costs

A major consumer supplier automated its reporting process, increased plant visibility and cut expenses by enabling repeatable integration.

By Sheila Kennedy, Contributing Writer

Consumer packaged goods manufacturing is a low-margin, high-volume business. Agile and efficient production processes are needed to ensure consistent and predictable results. As one Midwestern U.S. consumer goods plant discovered, achieving this objective is easier and far more cost-effective with access to timely, accurate operational information.

At a corporate level, the large, multinational supplier is striving to increase its competitiveness and profitability through responsible growth. This particular plant produces an average of 8 million gallons of personal care product per month, and the output is expected to increase by 25% in 2015.

The facility's reliance on manual reporting of its overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and performance hindered its ability to achieve an optimal operational state. The outdated approach provided only the basic metrics. For example, the main plant summary report contained part counts, OEE, running time, stopped time, and a breakdown of the stopped time. It took a week to create this monthly report using a labor-intensive compilation and analysis process, several hundred sheets of paper, and a few spreadsheets.

“The report was very slow to generate,” says Scott Swindells, electrical engineer at Barry-Wehmiller Design Group, a system integrator and Rockwell Automation Solution Partner with whome the manufacturer had been partnering for control systems integration and other engineering and technology solutions.

“There was a long lag time from the end of month until the last month's and year-to-date reports were available,” Swindells explains. “Accuracy was at risk because the manual reporting process was subject to line operator interpretation. In addition, details were lacking, such as specific information about the root cause of line stops, and there was no machine-level information.”

Automating and enhancing the reporting process and increasing visibility across the plant would be necessary to fulfill the corporate objectives of consistent, competitive, profitable and responsible growth.

The Case for Change

In July 2013, Barry-Wehmiller Design Group suggested the plant consider RAPID Line IntegrationTM solution from Rockwell Automation as a way to eliminate its reporting challenges and capture automated, real-time packaging machine information.

RAPID Line Integration is designed to enable simple, efficient, repeatable integration of existing manufacturing system equipment as well as future lines. Conventional approaches are subject to high and unpredictable line integration costs and duplicated efforts. In contrast, RAPID Line Integration leverages a common user interface and supervisory controller; a standards-based common equipment interface; and a virtual server environment — characteristics that lower the total cost and time to deploy and optimize manufacturing equipment.

The equipment interface is based on the batch control industry standard PackML/ISA-88, which simplifies integration. Virtual server technology allows integration setup and preconfiguration prior to on-site commissioning, resulting in faster and more accurate deployment. Once integrated, users can configure, control and analyze line performance from a standard operating station. Integrated fault and event handling improves reporting of downtime and root causes.

Barry-Wehmiller Design Group recommended the plant adopt the RAPID Line Integration solution for integrated line control and performance as a way to provide real-time, detailed visibility into the entire packaging operation down to the machine level. It would replace the facility's pen and paper data collection processes with a full-featured, automated data collection system. It would provide a choice of standard reports plus the flexibility to create custom-purpose reports — all of which are viewable via web-based reporting services.

Plant-Wide Integration

The case was compelling, and the project was funded within one month. Between September 2013 and June 2014, RAPID Line Integration was deployed plant-wide to a total of 92 unique machine centers, covering 10 packaging lines, while leveraging the existing network and IT infrastructure.

“Barry-Wehmiller Design Group was responsible for the full integration,” says Swindells. “We installed and configured the IT infrastructure, programmed all of the machine and line interfaces, deployed the standard reports, and developed the custom reports to their specifications.”

FactoryTalk® Metrics and FactoryTalk Transaction Manager from Rockwell Automation were quickly added to the existing virtualized server pool. The RAPID Line Integration human-machine interface (HMI) screens were integrated into the existing line control FactoryTalk View SE HMI servers. Machine centers received a universal RAPID Line Integration Add-On Instruction (AOI) interface to communicate with the RAPID Line Integration supervisor.

In addition, six custom reports have been created by Barry-Wehmiller Design Group to date:

1. Plant Overview: Overview of entire plant, by line, of product types produced, total bottle count, OEE, and ideal speed versus actual speed.

2. Plant Top Losses by Individual Event: Overview of entire plant, by line, of the top three loss events by number of occurrences.

3. Plant Top Losses by Total Event Time: Overview of entire plant, by line, of the top three loss events based on total duration.

4. Plant Marquee: Overview formatted for a large screen TV showing current line state and current shift production versus last 60-minutes production (products produced, actual counts versus ideal counts, OEE).

5. Plant Scorecard: Overview of entire plant, all machines' OEE, available time, running time and downtime.

6. Plant Scorecard Full: Overview of entire plant or line with full year of data, broken down by month; shows breakdown of OEE, TEEP, running hours and losses by category (shutdowns, minor stops, changeover, logistics, breakdown).

Real-Time OEE Visibility

The consumer goods supplier now has accurate, automated status information about every packaging machine in the facility. “RAPID Line Integration has given the plant real-time access to line performance information as well as detailed information about stop events, including root cause reporting,” Swindells says. “Significant quantities of historical data now can also be accessed quickly.”

Because a year's worth of production data for the entire plant can be summarized and displayed on demand within minutes, it frees hundreds of labor hours each year to instead focus on operational improvements.

To share with everyone on the plant floor how well each line is performing, the plant installed a large-format HDTV above the main entrance to the plant floor to display the Plant Marquee, a sequence of customized high-level reports.

Barry-Wehmiller Design Group, a Rockwell Automation Solution Partner, is a total operations solutions provider of control systems integration, automation, engineering and technology services for the consumer products, life sciences and industrial sectors. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, and operating from more than 30 offices in the United States and Puerto Rico, the company provides electrical design services, packaging and process automation solutions, project management, and validation and regulatory solutions.

Barry-Wehmiller Design Group

Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk Suite


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