The entire process was time-consuming and error-prone, as Whitmore employees moved hoses between mixers, or moved about the floor to monitor batch temperatures.
“Contamination within hoses was always a concern,” said Tim Meyer, quality manager, Whitmore. “Operators could choose the wrong hose or choose a hose that hadn’t been cleaned correctly. This led to quality issues with our products.”
In order to reduce nonconforming batches, improve quality and meet customer expectations around the world, Whitmore decided to automate its lubricant-making process and gain access to real-time information from the facility floor.
Whitmore engineers began working with Innovative Control Inc., a Rockwell Automation Recognized System Integrator, to build an integrated control and information system built on the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture® system.
The multi-year project began by installing an Allen-Bradley® ControlLogix® programmable logic controller that was seamlessly integrated with Allen-Bradley IntelliCENTER® motor control software for the facility’s charging and temperature control systems.
FactoryTalk® View Site Edition software from Rockwell Automation provides a comprehensive and accurate view into the newly automated lubricant charging and mixing systems via tight integration to the ControlLogix platform and other FactoryTalk applications.
FactoryTalk® Historian software tracks key variables, such as lubricant temperature, weight, and mixing time for the facility’s more than 20 mixers. Operators now can easily see where modified batches originated by reviewing historical and real-time data.
The historian information is fed into FactoryTalk VantagePoint® EMI software from Rockwell Automation, which provides greater accessibility to in-context data and trend reports. This manufacturing intelligence solution enables operators to analyze multi-batch data more efficiently.
Whitmore engineers can now chart connections between average cycle times and production rates. The solution’s dashboards allow operators to monitor and troubleshoot the system remotely or on a mobile device.