Learn how a food processor made a digital transformation by converging IT and OT to boost productivity via remote monitoring and better visibility.
For an iconic food and beverage company with a global presence, sharing information among many manufacturing sites around the world can be challenging. A good recipe to align multiple processes, people and locations requires a solution that converges both operational technology (OT) and IT.
Smart manufacturing drives productivity and profitability. It requires highly connected plants so devices and processes can be continually monitored and optimized.
Given the size of the organization, converging the plant floor OT with the office layer IT infrastructure globally was not a small undertaking, but certainly an important one to meet growing production and business goals.
Leveraging data from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the basis of a Connected Enterprise approach. “It was important for us to gain an understanding of the existing IT layer and applications as well as considering the future roadmap and requirements,” explains Sean Doherty, Food & Beverage account manager, Rockwell Automation.
“In the first instance, it was vital to create a backup of the control layer of the plant so if there were any issues, the disaster recovery would seamlessly take place. The IDC provides a complete backup of the control system layer using FactoryTalk® AssetCentre and was built off-site in our facility in Auckland (New Zealand),” he adds.
The majority of the commissioning was performed remotely and was a seamless process. The engineers were onsite for a week but once it was connected to the plant’s network, the remote support center did the rest of the commissioning process remotely.
Combined IT and OT Support
Rockwell Automation was asked to provide the complete solution (see Figure 1), converging IT and OT to help reduce downtime through remote monitoring.
Through The Connected Enterprise, Rockwell Automation helps food and beverage manufacturers offer a more agile response to changing manufacturing and consumer demands. The company works with firms to help them converge plant-level and enterprise networks, and securely connect people, processes and technologies.
The Connected Enterprise Approach
With a service level agreement in place, the processes at the plant are monitored remotely, and each filter or alarm is responded to every 10 minutes, with the average response time being only four minutes.
“In fact, every 2 minutes, there’s a ‘heartbeat’ sent to the technical support team in Melbourne, which then goes to the support team in the United Kingdom, then the United States, and then back through Melbourne. This means that they are supported end to end with any required patching supported remotely,” explains Doherty.
To increase manufacturing uptime at the plant, the food manufacturer invested in an IDC from Rockwell Automation (see Figure 2). The IDC is a pre-engineered solution providing the hardware required to run multiple operating systems and multiple applications from virtualized servers. A key component of a connected enterprise, the IDC provides the capability to bring data from the plant floor and monitor performance for local strategies.
The Rockwell Automation IDC provides technology from from members of the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork™ program including Cisco® and Panduit. The IDC also delivers high availability and fault tolerance, while reducing server footprint.
The Rockwell Automation remote control center monitors the plants, while both the plant and corporate network provide complete remote access. This provided the food company with both peace of mind and real time data visibility.
“This is the first step toward establishing a Connected Enterprise at the plant,” says Doherty. “The next stage of the project will help gain process improvement through the whole organization by allowing both corporate and engineering to create reports based on real time information from the control system.”
A key goal of this project was to develop a roadmap that addresses all aspects of the operation, while also preparing for technology advances and meeting operational and corporate objectives such as reduced downtime and improved productivity.
Meeting Performance and Environmental Goals
The icing on the cake was reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), energy and water usage, and waste. By analyzing data, the food producer now can drill down and identify areas that could be improved to help meet these objectives.
The new solution also helps with the move toward a paperless environment, with information being stored in the cloud and the IDC.
The Connected Enterprise lays the foundation for seamless connectivity and greater collaboration among the many people, processes and technologies that affect product safety and quality. Additionally, the digitization of operations removes paperwork from the plant floor reducing complexity and compliance costs. Smart operations are connected operations.
The ability to access relevant, real-time and role-based information can enable more informed decision-making at every level and create nearly endless opportunities for manufacturers to improve processes. Additionally, advances in equipment, control systems and information systems can help establish more flexible and more responsive operations.
The benefits of smart manufacturing extend far beyond operational improvements. A secure network infrastructure, greater connectivity and access to actionable information also create opportunities to enhance quality, food safety and worker safety.
“Alongside new technology, the process is about creating a culture of continuous improvement,” Doherty concludes. “The Connected Enterprise promotes seamless collaboration and integration enabling the power of real-time data to help make better, more profitable business decisions.”
The Journal From Rockwell Automation and Our PartnerNetwork™ is published by Putman Media, Inc.