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Most of us would agree that the future is important. We make many decisions every day that affect our future - from what we eat, to how much we exercise, and even to what we buy. For example, when it comes to buying a car, the desire may be to purchase a Porsche, but the car’s value does not increase over time. The wiser choice would be to purchase a more reasonably-priced car and to invest the money for future use.
The same can be said of a manufacturing facility. Plant operations managers need to make the right decisions today that will ensure the viability of their facility for decades to come. They owe it to themselves and their future employees and colleagues to make the right decisions now to sustain the facility for the future.
The following are some questions that plant operations managers should consider as they look five, ten and even 20 years down the road:
Operators of aging manufacturing plants need to make decisions now that keep changing technologies in mind. It is possible to extend the life of the facility by keeping an eye to the future. Think about the future in every decision that you make. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but it’ll save you time in the end.
Replacing aging manufacturing equipment can result in the following benefits:
Involving a knowledgeable system integrator can help to guide your company so you can make the right decisions today to ensure a strong future. A successful integration firm has the ability to collaborate with clients to identify and select best-in-class platforms, design and implement systems, and provide verification and validation documentation and services. It's also important to have a knowledge of programmable logic controllers (PLC), human machine interface (HMI), distributed control systems (DCS), and information applications.
At Avid, we are committed to providing unique answers to our manufacturing partners through our process of Outcomes-Based Engineering (OBE). By listening to the needs of our clients, we provide independent and unbiased answers and recommend best-in-class technology solutions that meet and often exceed expectations. We have developed a process batch documentation and implementation library that greatly streamlines batch configuration, troubleshooting, and maintenance.
Whether it’s retirement planning, saving for your children’s education, or planning for the future success of your manufacturing facility, there’s no time like the present to get started. As with most things in life, keeping an eye to the future is important.
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If you're trying to troubleshoot or optimize different aspects of your manufacturing process, consider adding an historian. This software is used to store and analyze vital process and industrial data. Historians fall into their own category in the world of industrial software due to the critical role they play in the success of analysis and decision making. Unfortunately many companies have lots of data, but do not use it effectively.
Many companies are looking for ways to determine the root causes of why their plant’s performance is not at its best on a consistent basis. For example, a plant manager may know that the plant is losing money because a process is taking an extra three minutes. However, determining why this process is taking those three extra minutes can prove to be challenging. Using historian software may provide the needed insight into this issue.
Historians are designed to capture and store a large amount of data from many different sources using disk space efficiently so that years of data can be quickly retrieved. For instance, OSI’s PI Historian can handle millions of points, archive thousands of events per second and quickly retrieve data from a million gigabytes of data (many years of data for most users!).
In a process control system, very common items that are historized include temperature, flow rate, pressure, level and other types of analog data. Also common is the historization of digital data, such as the output or feedback states associated with valves, pumps and other discrete control devices. Integration with other software systems, such as Laboratory Information Systems (LIMS), allows the comparison of process data with lab results.
There are many advantages to adding historian software to your manufacturing process. They include:
Visibility Across Different Systems/Vendors
If a site has multiple, separate systems, historian software can bring all those disparate systems into one view.
The historian can be used to analyze data for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and batch cycle improvements.
Increased Availability of Data
Efficient Storage of Data and Quick Retrieval when Needed
A historian can store many years of data and make it available for immediate retrieval. Some of our customers have systems that were installed more than 15 years ago and all of the data since the initial installation can be easily retrieved for analysis and viewing. There are some installations where the historian can display historical data better than the control system. In one instance, operators actually preferred pulling up trends in PI Processbook because of the faster performance and the more convenient user interface.
Connectivity with Other Business Systems
By connecting the historian to business systems, it is possible to reduce downtime and more accurately report material consumption.
If you are interested in adding historian software to your manufacturing process or using the data you have more effectively, consider us. We have installed many historian systems including those from OSI, Rockwell, Honeywell, Wonderware and GE in a variety of industries, and our teams have interfaced with PLC and DCS control systems as well as a myriad of business systems. We work with a wide variety of industries including life sciences, chemical, food/beverage and consumer packaging, power, and pulp & paper. We understand the type of information your engineering, operations, technical services, maintenance, and business groups need. Big data is the wave of the future, don’t be intimidated, it is possible to use large volumes of data to improve your processes.
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Work in the Pulp & Paper manufacturing industry is never without unexpected challenges. In order to ensure a successful project, our engineers had to adapt to unplanned scheduling changes in such a way as to provide the customer with a safe, secure startup while the plant was still online.
Meeting the customer's production schedule meant installing a new/modified batch processing management system without having to stop overall plant production. Simulations and extensive testing substantially mitigated the chance for error during this high-risk/high-reward strategy. Although this type of software testing increased upfront labor costs, it provided significant return on the investment. The result was a downtime of one batch cycle, zero wasted raw materials or product, and uninterrupted paper-machine production.
To ensure mutual success, Avid worked with the customer to choose an option that would maximize safety and also meet production demands while minimizing labor cost and material waste. For this project, the customer had an existing Honeywell Experion Batch Management solution which successfully ran its three mixers and supporting equipment. But, plans for a new coating formulation required that the old system be updated. The change introduced a new ingredient, a new dispersing machine, several VFDs, and Ethernet/IP for device control. Both the batch management system and the graphics needed to be updated to accommodate these changes.
Avid’s site familiarity and extensive experience in creating feature rich C&A solutions, allowed our contractors to work with operations to identify and incorporate many quality of life (QoL) features into the project. At each step, the consultants at Avid proved to the customer that the install could be done safely and within the time window.
Some of the key factors in the success of the project included holding a 3-day Factory Acceptance Test (FAT), simulation, virtulization, backup planning and documentation. Given the overall success of this project, an online startup could be a preferential option for future companies.