Case Study

Recent ActivityRecent Activity

The Mosaic Company Enhances Decision-Making Capabilities and Reduces Alarms by 50 Percent with Modern DCS

Phosphate producer modernizes distributed control system and HMI to mine valuable production data

Main Image


  • Visibility into production data limits ability to make quick, informed decisions.



  • Enhanced Visualization, Productivity - Quickly understood production data enables more informed decision-making capabilities, and productivity was improved, reducing alarms by 50 percent.

Feeding the World

Our world will have nearly 10 billion mouths to feed by 2050. With this burgeoning population, the agriculture industry has some critical work to do. One way to grow more food and increase the effectiveness of every acre is through fertilizers that can help provide essential nutrients for optimum growth.

The Mosaic Company is the world’s leading integrated producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate and potash, two key ingredients in plant fertilizer. Much of Mosaic’s phosphate mining production is located in Florida.

To mine phosphate in this state, the nutrient is pulled out from under the sandy topsoil and sent through pipelines to a processing facility. The facility then uses a series of washing, vibrating and flotation stations to separate the phosphate from the sand and clay.

Mining for Information

To meet growing demands for increased crop yields, Mosaic needed to add a premium fertilizer product line to its New Wales, Florida, facility. In order to accommodate the new process, the company needed to drastically expanded the existing distributed control system (DCS).

The legacy HMI system provided limited to no visibility into key production data. The system only provided big picture elements of the facility and very few data insights. Without contextualized information, operators were not able to make the best informed decisions.

Existing HMI screens were also overly complex and colorful, making it difficult to quickly interpret abnormal conditions and quickly respond.

Additionally, the legacy system was programmed with more than 4,000 alarms that notified operators of operational changes more frequently than needed. These nuisance alarms required operators to unproductively respond to hundreds of active alarms to identify and respond to those significant to the operation.

This made it nearly impossible to quickly recognize and respond to legitimate issues in the process that needed to be fixed. Limited visibility combined with too many alarm notifications resulted in extra work and lost productivity. 

“Once the company decided to expand the facility, we made the business case to upgrade our process automation software, too,” said Josh Johansen, project engineer, The Mosaic Company.

“We needed contextualized information intuitive enough for any employee to use, and a resolution for our overalarming issues. This large-scale expansion was an excellent opportunity to finally move forward with a full visualization solution.”

Enhancing the View

Automated Controls of Tampa Inc. designed and implemented Mosaic’s new high performance HMI utilizing the PlantPAx® Library of Process Objects (PDF) from Rockwell Automation. The New Wales facility already had an installed base of Rockwell Automation hardware and software, so making the upgrade was a smooth transition. 

The PlantPAx distributed control system is based on open communication standards to streamline control and information flow across the plant. It also provides a comprehensive and accurate picture of a facility’s operations, providing operators optimal and easy-to-understand insights, trends and alarms.

With the new, integrated, high-performance HMI graphics, data is put into context. Operators now have clear-cut benchmarks showing desirable data ranges to quickly see when equipment and processes are abnormal.

As part of the DCS modernization, the facility’s control base was expanded by 250 percent; making it a massive overhaul. The project took two years to finish with a significant hardware and software upgrade.

Installation included a number of new controllers, motor control centers, variable frequency drives, I/O racks, servers, HMI clients and monitors. The facility created 100 new high-performance HMI graphics screens, and customized 30 percent of the PlantPAx graphics library to better suit its needs.

Data Revealed, Decisions Made Easy

With a successful PlantPAx distributed control system upgrade and an effective startup with minimal operational delays, the team was thrilled with the new system.

The incorporated alarm configuration and management feature got the facility’s alarm system under control. Now operators can view, filter and disable unnecessary alarms. Better alarm design reduced the facility’s alarms by 50 percent – from more than 4,000 alarm tags to under 2,000.

Plant-operators are now able to see legitimate threats without the distraction of nuisance alarms.

With the new, integrated, high-performance HMI graphics, data is put into context. Operators now have clear-cut benchmarks showing desirable data ranges to quickly see when equipment and processes are abnormal.

With intuitive graphics, Mosaic’s operators can now understand the production data in their HMI and are able to make more informed decisions. Rather than a slew of numbers, the new system showcases useful information.

Additionally, the new system provides a simplified presentation that utilizes colors more strategically. Objects are purposefully designed to blend into the background so only important data stands out.

Alarm criticality is communicated by various color and shape combinations established by the PlanPAx library. This prevents unwanted noise so data can be processed quicker, further improving operator productivity along the way.

“Operators now have vital information available at their fingertips – information that any employee can quickly understand and react to,” Johansen said. “Our long-term goal is to ease training and reduce downtime with a standard system program across all our facilities.”

The results mentioned above are specific to The Mosaic Company’s use of Rockwell Automation products and services in conjunction with other products. Specific results may vary for other customers.

PlantPAx is a trademark of Rockwell Automation Inc.


Subscribe to Rockwell Automation and receive the latest news, thought leadership and information directly to your inbox.

Recommended For You