Food Giant Upgrades Manufacturing Software to Ease Troubleshooting

Food Giant Upgrades Manufacturing Software

With a long history of success in meat production since the Great Depression, Tyson Foods is now one of the largest producers of meat and poultry in the world.

Nearly 300 million pounds of classic American favorites, such as hot dogs, deli meats, and smoked sausages, are produced annually at the Tyson Foods plant in New London, Wisconsin, one of 38 prepared food facilities.

The brand has been evolving with the changing times, but the operating system that supported the facility’s human machine interface (HMI) application was quite the contrary.

The plant was relying on old PC hardware, which was, in turn, limiting which software system was used – some hardware was even running programs from the ‘90s.

“The fact that the system was crashing every week was a sure sign that we needed to upgrade,” said Jonathan Riechert, senior engineer-innovation, Corporate Engineering Group, Tyson Foods. “Beyond the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reporting issue, we knew that we couldn’t keep taking hours out of employees’ days to troubleshoot. A new operating system would be both a food safety and maintenance improvement.”

Accessing the Information

The New London facility needed to replace its aging production system structure with new hardware that could accommodate the software upgrade to give them reliable access to the data they required.

After taking other successful solutions implemented at other Tyson facilities into account, the selected new solution for New London plant is based on the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture® system that incorporates both the Logix control platform and FactoryTalk® production management software.

The Logix platform offers plantwide control through tight integration between the software, controller and I/O modules, providing Tyson the needed visibility to plant-floor operation and access to actionable data.

Two hundred and fifty screens were migrated from FactoryTalk View32 software to a single FactoryTalk View Site Edition (SE) HMI application, and HMI tags with existing, predefined connections were installed on the programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

The manufacturing intelligence solution builds on that plant-floor visibility by providing historical and trending information. For this upgrade, operators migrated 1,000 historical tags from the past year over to the FactoryTalk Historian software, which now acts as the central repository for all production data from the control system.

This historical data and the information retrieved through the facility’s real-time 960 data tags are aggregated in FactoryTalk VantagePoint enterprise manufacturing intelligence software. The program correlates data and offers easy trending and reporting capabilities – a critical improvement for the plant.

Ready to Yield Improvements

It took only six months to complete the project, and since then system crashes are no longer an issue. Reports are easily accessed and downloaded. Additionally, operators can now pull out specific information and create their own reports.

In addition to helping ease compliance, these expanded reporting and trending capabilities have allowed the facility to save $100,000 in wastewater chemicals. The FactoryTalk View SE software integrates with WIN-911® to automatically trigger alarm notifications remotely via email.

This capability helps Tyson cut maintenance-response time to help increase uptime and can also help improve worker safety.

For example, event notifications alert operators if employees are entering a certain work cell multiple times per day. Operators can then zero in on the cause, and identify a solution to keep the worker out of that area.

Because the system is relatively new, operators at the facility have yet to see yield improvements, though they expect any small increases in production to lead to an increase in profits.

“The FactoryTalk software suite has given us access to valuable information so we can really make use of it,” said Riechert. “We have all the data in the world, but the reporting and trending tools are what allow us to make it actionable.”

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