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Major Food Industry Supplier Reduces Downtime by Modernising Their HMI

Leading food industry supplier quickly benefits from modern SCADA solution thanks to well organised phased migration program

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  • Food industry supplier identified obsolescence in its control solution and needed a minimal-downtime phased migration programme to modernise its infrastructure.



  • Negligible downtime for a 24/7 production environment
  • Concurrent operation of existing and replacement SCADA for smooth handover
  • Greater functionality from newer HMI SCADA solution
  • Virtualisation meant that 95% of commissioning could be achieved offline
  • Improved asset utilisation and reduced total cost of ownership


This leading food industry supplier specialises in the development, production and application of edible oils and fats and is one of the world’s largest supplier of speciality fats to the chocolate and confectionery industries, offering high-specialised cocoa butter alternatives and filling fats with premium functionality.

The company has production facilities in all over the world – including the United Kingdom – where one of its facilities is the country’s largest edible oils refinery.

At this this facility a number of processes, some of which are still controlled by individual legacy PLCs and dedicated HMI SCADA systems, but over the last 10 years a phased migration project has been underway to change these over to an up-to-date and more future proof distributed HMI SCADA and control solution. Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk® View SE HMI SCADA software was chosen for this new system, running on Allen-Bradley ControlLogix® programmable automation controllers (PAC).

Under the supervision of the Boulting Group, a Rockwell Automation Recognised System Integrator, the project’s eventual aim is to modernise all key areas of the plant by deploying a scalable, open and expandable integrated control solution.

Boulting Group is a member of the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork™ program as a System Integrator Partner. Recognised System Integrators make the commitment to deliver the highest technical solution and customer service, leading with Rockwell Automation technologies. These integrators have a mutually supportive relationship with the Rockwell Automation sales and/or distributors they work with.


Boulting faced numerous challenges as the project proceeded. The site operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week; therefore minimum disruption to site operations during the upgrade period was one of the prime considerations in the development of the upgrade procedures.

Factors that have been implemented by Boulting to mitigate any potential issues include the offline installation, configuration, upgrading and testing of all Rockwell Automation software on the new servers before upgrading onsite. The existing and replacement systems also have to operate in parallel for a commissioning period, delivering a phased migration from the old to new system. In the unlikely event of any issues with the new system, Boulting has to provide a fall-back procedure to allow the system to revert back to the incumbent SCADA system.

The HMI SCADA infrastructure was installed as part of the very first phase. Subsequently, additional clients have been added to the system as existing control systems have been upgraded, or new processes and equipment have been introduced. The system architecture comprised two servers running the HMI SCADA and OPC data servers in a redundant configuration. These communicate to eight ControlLogix PACs and three Allen-Bradley CompactLogix™ PACs. A total of 15 HMI clients are served by the redundant server pair, with an additional three ‘View Only’ clients.

Since the commencement of the upgrade program, FactoryTalk View has undergone a series of changes and improvements and has recently been released as FactoryTalk View SE V9. To take advantage of these new features and increased stability, it was decided to upgrade the current site’s RSView SE V4 to FactoryTalk View SE.


Before the modernisation, the infrastructure comprised a number of discrete control solutions incorporating older PLCs and legacy HMI SCADA software. The customer realised that these systems were becoming obsolete and increasing the risk of downtime, so quickly identified a need to replace the complete system. Once it had replaced a couple it was more confident regarding the actual operation and spares availability and therefore decided to employ a gradual migration, based on site-wide Ethernet and a distributed HMI SCADA.

By using Ethernet as the primary communication protocol, Boulting has given itself the opportunity to more easily offer its customers remote monitoring and maintenance, while also having the option to connect the machine into its customer's Connected Enterprise. The Connected Enterprise, an approach many companies are adopting to leverage the use of connected machines, supply chains and customers, allows them to establish manufacturing processes that are data/information rich, supported, secure and future ready for market demands.

Ultimately, a Connected Enterprise approach for manufactures and their suppliers will create a more competitive, innovative enterprise that can deliver insights to improve productivity, sustainability and economic performance through faster time to market, lower total cost of ownership, improved asset utilisation and enterprise risk management. Other benefits of access to real-time, contextualised information, include minimised downtime, improved technology and process optimisation, greater workforce efficiency and smarter expenditure.

The modernisation project involved multiple steps, both off- and on-site. Off-site work commenced with the establishment of two physical servers upon which virtual servers were installed. This was followed by the installation of the new Rockwell Automation software. All RSView32 software was converted to FactoryTalk View SE. HMI tag-based alarms were converted and initial tests on the converted SCADA application were carried out to ensure all displays were converted correctly.

The next step was the configuration of a ControlLogix rack and a CompactLogix PAC for testing the SCADA interfaces. For each PAC control system, the code was loaded onto the PAC and the graphics were checked against the test documentation. After some additional in-house testing, formal internal factory acceptance testing was performed followed by customer acceptance testing.

On-site work commenced with the installation of the new redundant server pair. The OPC data server on the new SCADA server was configured to communicate to all of the relevant site PACs. In effect, there were two independent distributed SCADA applications operating over the SCADA network; the old HMI system (RSView32) and the updated system (FactoryTalk View Site Edition).

After determining that the redundancy was working, the network was monitored to help ensure that there were no adverse effects. When this was confirmed, the first of the clients was migrated from the old SCADA to the new by rebuilding the client PC with the FactoryTalk View SE software. The client was then connected to the updated application by referencing the FactoryTalk directory for the system.

Next, the client was tested to gauge if the animation of the objects was okay. Redundancy of the new SCADA system was also tested once the new client was introduced. This was then left to operate onsite for a suitable time period to help ensure that there were no issues on the new or old SCADA systems.

The next phase was to update additional clients to the new system. This gradual migration was repeated until all the clients were communicating to the FactoryTalk View SE HMI SCADA system. When all the clients were migrated, the old SCADA servers were physically removed from the network.


By delivering greater reliability from an integrated, scalable and more future proof Rockwell Automation HMI SCADA solution, Boulting is helping the food supplier to maintain its desire for 24/7 operations. And thanks to the phased changeover, along with the two system working in tandem during handover, downtime was kept to an absolute minimum. The customer is also benefitting from the enhanced functionality delivered by FactoryTalk View SE.

“From Boulting’s perspective, we were really enthusiastic with the virtualisation capabilities,” explains Andy Marshall, System Architect at Boulting. “Virtualisation is a big thing for us and this was the first time we had used it on Rockwell Automation equipment. Running virtual PCs on servers allows us to use multiple operating systems (OS) on one server, giving us the ability to divorce the software from the hardware. After three or four years PCs become old, tired and slow and with virtualisation, if you have a failure you can simply copy a programme from one PC to another. It’s not just useful for failures, you’re encapsulating your environment so one OS can do one thing totally independent of one doing another.

“All Rockwell Automation software is tested on VMware,” he continues. “We need to make sure that software we use is validated to run under a virtual environment. It is very important to us that we get an architecture validated, which is why we work with Rockwell Automation.”

A Senior Electrical Projects Engineer at the customer, concludes: “We operate 24/7 so any downtime can be a huge problem, indeed one of our primary objectives for this modernisation program was minimum downtime. There was a very effective working relationship between us, Boulting and Rockwell Automation. Rockwell Automation is now the on-site standard.

“The thing with which I was most impressed was the offline testing, which completely replicated the operation of plant, so 95% of the commissioning was done offline using Rockwell Automation simulation software. Because Boulting was so thorough everything was addressed, even the I/O that was not documented. This is a level beyond what you would normally expect. I would have no hesitation in working with Boulting and Rockwell Automation again.”

Allen-Bradley, ControlLogix, CompactLogix, FactoryTalk View SE, Rockwell Automation and RSView SE are trademarks of Rockwell Automation, Inc.

Trademarks not belonging to Rockwell Automation are property of their respective companies.


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