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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Supervision and Silo Control for the Dairy Industry

Dairy processing facility in Bogota, Colombia uses InduSoft Web Studio to monitor dairy storage silos.

  • CL Ingenieria de Automatizacion chose InduSoft Web Studio to create a monitoring and control system for dairy silos in Bogota, Colombia.

  • The application has been standardized for all twenty-one silos within the facility. The application monitors the values for temperature and level, and also controls the pumps and agitators for each silo.

  • As a result of the application, production costs have decreased due to less waste and better equipment efficiency.  Traceability has improved, and recording errors  have decreased thanks to automated reporting.

Figure 1:The application monitors and controls twenty-one silos within the facility.



Columbia is one of the highest producers of milk and  dairy products within Latin America. In 2011, the production of milk was about 14,500 lbs. However, Colombia’s dairy industry is facing challenges from free trade agreements and the high cost of producing and processing milk in Colombia. As a result, many milk production facilities are looking for ways to increase the efficiency of processing milk and dairy.
A dairy processing facility in Bogota Colombia found themselves in need of a monitoring solution that would enable them to improve the cost and efficiency of dairy processing.
The dairy processing facility receives 800.000 liters of milk daily which come from different part of the country. This milk has to be cooled to 4 °C after being discharged from the milk truck container. There are twenty-one silos available at the processing plant, which are separated into units for Ultra High Temperature dairy, desserts, fermented dairy, and cheese. The milk in each silo must be stored according to the standards for each product category. The important variables that must be maintained are throughout dairy processing are: temperature, silo level and the volume of milk sent to the different production areas.
CL Ingenieria de Automatizacion was contracted to develop and install a new monitoring and control system that would make dairy processing at the facility far more efficient.


Figure 2: This application communicates with Compact Logix L32E and one VIPA CPU 314-2-dp.

The Challenge

Before implementation of the dairy processing system, control for the process was done manually. Operators had to fill hard-copy forms , and the values were measured using electronic instruments and then recorded. For the level measure, the facility used a wire level float sensor.
The whole project was a modification of existing hardware, and made use of the instrumentation at the facilities on site, temperature controls , flow meters, PLC control tables and decentralized Peripherals.
The facility required records of historical values, as well as easily printable reports that would enable to supervisor to make process decisions quickly. Before installation of the new system, the project used pushbuttons for the pump control and agitators, and the level was has being measured by a float system. There was no temperature measurement, and the amount of product sent it to different process areas was not recorded.
In addition to process efficiency changes, the dairy industry in Colombia also requires that certain variables be controlled and recorded.  The software solution had to include functions to report temperature and level every hour for all the twenty-one silos, generate alarms for high or low temperature, generate alarms for high or low level, and generate batch reports to record the liters of milk sent to each process line at the plant.


Figure 3: The application monitors silo volume and offers on/off and reset controls.

The Solution

The target of this application was automated control for the milk contained in silos. The application controls different variables, including the silo level, flow meters installed at the beginning of each process line, and regulates temperature to control the product acidity.
For this project, CL Ingenieria de Automatizacion chose InduSoft Web Studio. One of the many benefits of this HMI/SCADA platform, is the number of communication drivers included. This application communicates with Compact Logix L32E and one VIPA CPU 314-2-dp. The application communicates through the ABCIP protocol for Compact Logix and the Siemens Industrial Ethernet protocol for communication with the VIPA. InduSoft Web Studio also allows communication with SQL Server Express 2012. Having these communication drivers available with the software made development and implementation easy.
The application has been standardized for all twenty-one silos within the facility. The application monitors the values for temperature and level, and also controls the pumps and agitators for each silo. The InduSoft Web Studio application is running in one industrial PC using Windows XP. The project uses two computers. One uses  SQL server with the InduSoft Web Studio project, and the second is a Thin Client. There is also a mobile version of the application, which shows proves values on smartphones and tablets.
The system also offers security measures. Levels were configured for operators that prevented them from losing data by turning off the system. Only using a specific username and password will allow an operator to stop the runtime or change the IP addresses for the PLCs.
The full system was incorporated in stages. The first 12 silos were connected, and the following week the remaining 9 silos were added to the system. The installation was programmed to keep some lines in production as the system was installed.


The Results

There have been numerous benefits following the installation of this application. Production costs have dramatically declined due to a reduction in product waste. The ability to read accurate values in real time has also enabled better decision-making. The facility can now shift milk to the appropriate silos depending on which production lines are operating at any given time. Filling the appropriate silos with an appropriate volume of product also helps ensure that production doesn’t slow.

There have also been energy savings for pumps and agitators. If these parts work in a vacuum they expend much more energy than if they operate in a filled tank. By ensuring that the silos are always filled to appropriate levels, these moving parts do not face additional strain. Maintenance issues are also reduced if moving parts are working in ideal circumstances, and maintenance costs have declined as a result of the InduSoft Web Studio application.

Traceability is much easier with the temperature controls and historical data provided by the application. Now product can be easily traced, and temperature values can be verified for quality control and regulatory processes.

The milk production facility has three more projects developed with InduSoft Web Studio. This system will be incorporated in stages, and in the future, all the projects will be integrated in one supervision center.

Figure 4: The dairy processing facility receives 800.000 liters of milk daily, where is it stored in silos throughout the facility.

For more information contact your local distributor or InduSoft directly at info@indusoft.com or 877-INDUSOFT (877-463-8763877-463-8763) or 512-349-0334512-349-0334.

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