Phase Two: Batch Automation
In phase two, the Rockwell Automation global solutions team worked directly with DuPont to configure and install FactoryTalk® Batch software to achieve full recipe control and sequential automation.
Givens and her team wanted to follow the ISA S88 standard, which lays out the framework for implementing batch systems. This required that Rockwell Automation first build a physical model of their production equipment and then create a procedural model of the automated production phases. These phases then become “building blocks” that can be interchangeably used for different recipes.
“Phase management features within batch software allowed us to explicitly follow the S88 standard,” Givens said. “This saved significant time. The team only had to configure a phase, such as mixing or addition, once. We could then reuse it multiple times. It’s much more efficient than creating new code for each recipe.”
The team also utilizes the batch software for manual processes, such as sampling and recipe reviews. The software provides manual phases that integrate with automated phases to give users a seamless operating experience between the two. “We widely use this feature across DuPont,” Givens said. “We find it easier and smoother to implement than writing manual-process code in the controller.”
Finally, the team worked with Rockwell Automation to install the software for tracking materials in the plant’s storage tanks. The software replaced the plant’s paper-based logging system, which required manual inventory tracking. It also incorporates automatic tank switching.
“Previously, if a tank ran out of material during an addition phase, operators had to track how much material was added and calculate the remaining amount needed from the tank,” Givens said. “Now, the software automatically calculates the remaining amount of material needed, switches tanks, and adds the required amount of material until it reaches the setpoint.”
A Big Boost to the Bottom Line
The new automated system was implemented in one week, all during scheduled downtime.
The upgrade took the plant from obsolete to fully supported platforms. And the new HMI resolved the pop-up and alarm-management issues that had been frustrating workers.
The Rockwell Automation Library of Process Objects cut design, configuration and deployment time. In fact, Givens estimates the library helped cut programming configuration time by 40 percent. Even today, with the new system up and running, the library continues to provide efficiency savings.
“The library is helpful for maintenance and troubleshooting,” Givens said. “If we want to go in and change a description, we don’t have to go into an engineering workstation or programing software. We can do it right in the HMI using the faceplates. Or, if a valve won’t open, an operator can open a faceplate and then open an interlock icon to see what’s wrong. In the past, workers may have had to configure a screen to see the valve interlocks or sift through paper documents to troubleshoot the issue. Now, the answer is just a couple clicks away.”
Meanwhile, the batch software took the plant from very limited automation to full batch automation, including automated cleaning processes. This helped the plant achieve the level of quality control that its customer wanted. And after modifying the software to improve coordination between the different production units, the plant saw a significant boost in throughput.
“Instead of having a single-unit process, we now have a train of multiple units that coordinate with one another,” Givens said. “This was to increase production on a sold-out product.”
The plant is at work on expanding the project to other areas of the plant. This includes replacing the plant’s legacy I/O, putting in an Ethernet network and automating some of the portable tanks that still use manual processes. Givens expects this will only deliver more efficiencies and productivity on top of what the plant has already seen.
The results mentioned above are specific to DuPont’s use of Rockwell Automation products and services in conjunction with other products. Specific results may vary for other customers.
FactoryTalk and PlantPAx are trademarks of Rockwell Automation Inc.