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The Common Problem with Uncommon DCS Solutions

This food giant needed a solution that allowed them to abandon one-off homegrown solutions, provide a more sustainable support model and use mainstream tools.

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One-off, home grown solutions are common in almost every manufacturing facility. Changes happen over time and the truth of the operation rests in someone I’ll call Old Joe.

Old Joe has been with the company for 30-plus years and is getting ready to retire. He’s provided stellar maintenance services over those three decades, looking for every way to optimize production.

What he did, worked. It wasn’t necessarily well-documented, lifecycle-managed or migratable. But it got the job done.

This was the situation with a food and beverage customer that wanted a process control solution for new projects – specifically, a French fry production line. The goals: create a sustainable model for the lifecycle of controls and automation products in their facilities, and accelerate implementation of new lines to meet burgeoning global demand.

The Common Problem with Uncommon Solutions

The challenge with people developing custom solutions is that those solutions are unsustainable. The people and the resources work together for a certain period, but then something changes: retirement of people, products and processes means the line is no longer sustainable or optimized.

On top of this, what did it cost to have Old Joe focused on developing solutions over the years? What was the ROI? Could his time have been better spent elsewhere in the plant?

Truth is, what Old Joe did could have been managed with an off-the-shelf (OTS) solution that’s lifecycle managed, documented and migratable.

Do the Right Thing

Although a standardized, proven solution like PlantPAx® modern DCS is the right decision for a plant looking to modernize its control system, it can be a hard sell to Old Joe, who has provided value over the years by piecing together a system that works well enough.

This decision goes above and beyond any single person or plant. If system integrators are involved, if there are multiple lines or multiple plants, two priorities outweigh any single person’s comfort or ownership: the new system must be standardized and migratable.

PlantPAx provides a sustainable model for the lifecycle of controls and automation products in one plant or across an enterprise, and can accelerate implementation of new lines. For this customer, PlantPAx enabled the company to present a consistent look and feel across plant controls, rely on standards and specifications for software and hardware, and count on an efficient development cycle.

The customer developed an application per their requirements using PlantPAx templates and experienced accelerated implementation thanks to early engagement with our process design team, the PlantPAx platform, and FactoryTalk® software.

PlantPAx Improves Visibility

These solutions helped the food and beverage company’s bottom line; reduced development and commissioning time; and was easily adopted by operators and technicians.

The PlantPAx system is now utilized to improve visibility into the process to allow better operator and maintenance decision-making – for Old Joe and for every operator in the plant.


Kevin DeWitt
Kevin DeWitt
Senior Global Process Technical Consultant, Rockwell Automation
Kevin DeWitt
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