Far and Away a Visionary
Once Eli Lilly decided to modernize its HMI system, it needed to set goals for the upgrade and select the technology for the optimal solution. Deployment also needed to fit within the production schedule of each suite and the availability of different teams. Management established a three-phased rollout plan that could best fit the update into its schedule.
“The project had three major goals: remote visibility, improved life-cycle management for the equipment, and an addition of robust data collection,” Shah explained. “Within eight months, we had done our homework and knew what technology was available to help us reach those goals.”
Eli Lilly chose the FactoryTalk® software suite from Rockwell Automation to provide its visibility and data-management solutions, paired with Allen-Bradley® ControlLogix® controllers. A seamless, system-wide data flow was secured with integrated operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT).
FactoryTalk View Site Edition (SE) software with VMware View® provides access to the HMI system from outside of the clean area. Users on the process and corporate network now can view production parameters and perform troubleshooting from anywhere.
A virtualized, thin-client architecture improves life-cycle management for the equipment, especially during future system updates and HMI client recovery. Dedicating server space for each production area means changes to one suite will not affect another.
“The virtualized HMI system removed the pain from recovery. If a thin-client goes down for any reason, a new client can be almost automatically connected using an IP address,” Shah said. “Even if the server goes down, we have a redundant system. In less than a second, the secondary server will activate.”
FactoryTalk Historian applications secure the collection of key data at the machine level, which then flows up to a site-level server. If a piece of equipment is connected to the system, this historian captures a constant, rolling window of data. Eli Lilly consistently maintains this information in case of a network or server failure.
Looking Into It
With workers now untethered from workstations, production lulls have been eliminated.
“When a plant runs 24/7, workforce efficiency is essential,” Shah said. “Access extended outside of the suite frees people to focus on other responsibilities.”
Productivity improvements in the Lilly-Branchburg plant included easier instrument calibration. What once required two people is now accomplished by an individual with a mobile HMI client at the instrument. Now a supervisor can also remotely check the status of a production run to see if it’s on time and if other teams have begun the necessary steps.
Remote access to the historian infrastructure has been a boon to the manufacturing technology group, which is responsible for analyzing production data. Comparing a current batch against the expected standard helps determine whether a process is running properly and provides the opportunity to test the process within changing parameters.
It once took four to eight hours to recover an HMI workstation. That time has been collapsed to five minutes or less.
Now that Eli Lilly is familiar with the new visualization and historian architecture, the company expects a 70 percent reduction in development and deployment time when the second suite and a common utility area are modernized.
The results mentioned above are specific to Eli Lilly’s use of Rockwell Automation products and services in conjunction with other products. Specific results may vary for other customers.
Allen-Bradley, ControlLogix and FactoryTalk are trademarks of Rockwell Automation Inc.
VMware View is a trademark of VMware Inc.