Digital Transformation and Plant of the Future
According to Dargie, Amway has been on a five-year digital transformation journey, another reason to bring energy drink manufacturing inside the plant. The challenge: especially with a brownfield site, it’s difficult to seamlessly connect legacy IT systems and homegrown OT/manufacturing systems to create a digital thread.
Harnessing the digital thread enables continuous data flow throughout an organization, which leads to improvements and benefits throughout the entire operation. It means collaborating in real time across the value chain, validating new lines and processes virtually, simplifying data science and increasing manufacturing flexibility. Eventually, as Amway integrates this solution into their product lifecycle management, they will achieve better connectivity across their supply chain.
The Heart of An Energy Drink
The Ada plant was divided in two sections: processing, where they formulate and mix, and filling/packaging. Engineers had years of experience with Rockwell Automation controllers and ControlLogix but no experience with the Rockwell Automation PlantPAx® modern distributed control system (DCS).
With such a positive history, engineers were comfortable and had a high confidence level in PlantPAx and its ability to meet new demands. That decision allowed engineers to apply one control and information system across all processes to improve capacity and product quality, save energy and raw materials, and reduce process variations and human intervention.
The team used modern batch control strategies to support flexible production needs and standardize company procedures while accelerating product and process development. The system’s standard methodologies, process libraries and reusable code meant better equipment utilization and improved quality, visibility and access to actionable data.
The team realized another big benefit: easier, faster troubleshooting. With such a sprawling campus, multiple production buildings and a maintenance operation spread across facilities, it can take 10 minutes for a technician to physically get to a machine. Real-time troubleshooting has created a richer, more self-reliant experience.
In addition, the team chose the IntelliCENTER® motor control center for integration of power and control, and for the first time used ThinManager® thin client management software, allowing control and security in a sustainable and scalable platform regardless of the size of the industrial environment or number of facilities. They also implemented mass meters from Encompass Partner Endress + Hauser that were integrated on the Ethernet network.
More than a few times during the pandemic, the system was able to run with a single employee at the controls. From the standpoint of application development, at different times Amway had five engineers working on the project simultaneously. Having a server-based system allowed the team to work together; the library of process objects ensured they had a common methodology, and the faceplates provided a consistent look and feel.
“Once operators spent some time with the new system and realized the power of the PlantPAx DCS, their confidence grew both in the system and in their own capabilities, and they became more agile and self-supporting,” said Dargie. “They appreciated the simplified troubleshooting and commonality between systems.”
To Market, Faster
Adding to the complexity of the extensive upgrades was an aggressive schedule with a bulk of the work happening during the pandemic.
“This project faced some tough circumstances,” said Dargie. “What kept us on schedule was the fact that everything we were doing was part of a standard process, we didn’t need to write our own code. That would have added six months to the process and opened us up for errors. We got to market as quickly as we did with zero downtime and no setbacks because everything operated as promised.”