Tight Production Monitoring Reduces "Give Away" on One Coffee Packing Line – Grows to Monitor Each Plant Line
- A custom InduSoft solution allows this packager of fine coffees and teas to monitor production runs on a newly installed filling line, and eliminate product loss due to overfilling.
- The InduSoft system associates historical data with both job numbers and SKU numbers so Mother Parkers management can analyze individual runs.
- Mother Parkers chose InduSoft for its all-inclusive offering of PLC drivers and because it offered significant cost advantages over competitive software.
- The user plans to expand the same solution to four additional lines and to add operator workstations to improve performance at the local level.
Figure 1: Mother Parkers began with an InduSoft system to monitor package fills and eliminate waste in production of a single line of products at its new Fort Worth plant. InduSoft is now used to monitor each of the product lines at the facility.
Figure 2: The Plant Tracker can monitor rejects, downtime, and OEE percent for the current process, or see an average for recent batches.
Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee Inc. is a leading Canadian owned and operated producer of quality tea and coffee products in the North American marketplace. In June, 2001 it started up a $25-million, 100,000-sq.-ft. Greenfield plant at Fort Worth, Texas. This highly-automated plant had a starting capacity to roast, grind, blend and package private-label coffees at a rate of 20 million lbs. per year, since expanded to over 130 million lbs. per year, and it currently manufactures more than 600 SKUs. Three years after startup, it added a new packaging line to expand production of private labeled cans of coffee. The additional line consisted of used equipment which needed to be retrofitted with controls in order to be updated. This project has since grown from one production line within the facility, to encompass the monitoring system for every production line.
Objective: Track Production by Individual Runs
When implementing the initial control system for the new line, a primary concern of the engineering team was to reduce product ‘give away’ by making package filling more precise and by enabling Mother Parkers personnel able to track waste. Production data for each shop order needed to be acquired and available from the company’s central database.
A single PLC on the line is used to control all phases of operation. The PLC reads data from an on-line scale, adjust the revolution rate on a feed auger to control the amount of product dispensed, adjusts the speed of a filler unit and monitors the vibrator that settles product in the can.
When a production run is finished, the PLC sets a Boolean flag indicating that the data is ready. The PC running the InduSoft interface detects the flag, picks up the production data and publishes it as a report to the database. Each shop order is tracked by SKU.
Figure 3: Users can track line speed and machine performance.
InduSoft Chosen for Drivers, Scalability
Installation of the new line and integration of the control system was done by GEA of Texas, Inc., a local automation integrator. They recommended the use of InduSoft Web Studio SCADA software to retrieve data from the PLC and publish it to the plant database.
There were two decisive factors that drove selection of InduSoft. First, it included—as part of the standard, base package—drivers for all standard PLCs such as Allen-Bradley and Omron, for which there were no additional charges. In addition, the cost price per license was extremely reasonable when compared to comparable SCADA software platforms.
As the system grew, it required a platform capable of maintaining a consistent look and feel for the HMIs used by all operators, regardless of the hardware used in the machine.
Figure 4: This screen matches fill to target weight
to ensure that packaging weights are all in range.
Waste Reduced Because of Tight Monitoring
Since Mother Parkers had the initial InduSoft Web Studio application installed, the most significant benefit is that staff can associate data with a specific production run so that it’s possible to tell precisely what costs are associated with a particular blend. It’s possible to hone in and see how much coffee is being given away inadvertently and get closer to target weights.
Expansion to Additional Lines
With the subsequent enhancements to the project, the InduSoft Web Studio system is integrated with the plant MES system and the ERP system, offering substantially improved tracking, monitoring, and analytic capabilities. Post production and real-time data is sent to the ERP, which stores inventory transactions and postings. InduSoft Web Studio is currently installed on seventeen packing lines, as well as serving as the SCADA platform.
One benefit of the new additions to the application is the ability to customize and develop easily, thanks to tools in InduSoft Web Studio, such as the log window and remote database spy, which make it possible to rapidly debug changes to the application. The use of thin clients on each machine makes it possible to quickly deploy updated versions of the HMI on each machine.
Another improvement is the ability to maintain a consistent look and feel across the different packing lines, even though the plant employs machines made by several different manufacturers. This reduces operator training time.
Production at the plant has nearly doubled since the initial application was created in 2001.
The Fort Worth plant was designed with expansion in mind. InduSoft has simplified managing the complex array of products produced by the Mother Parkers operation.
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