Hello everyone. I’m Ajay Rana and recently, in an article in Food Manufacturing, I had the opportunity to talk about an interesting case study with FEI Foods, Europe’s largest producer of ready-to-eat rice and grain pouches, based in South Wales, UK. I think it has some good information for any plant.
Due to demand, FEI Foods’ existing production facilities had been operating at full capacity for several years, which prompted the decision to design and build a new 250,000 sq ft state-of-the-art factory in Llantrisant, Wales. FEI Foods then had the perfect opportunity to digitally transform its existing operational technology and practices with the implementation of advanced automation software to help maximize plant efficiency and productivity. A key focus was improving access to and transfer of data to support inventory management, and for packaging production and printing. At the existing FEI Foods production facilities, all inventory control declarations and the sending of production information to printers for packaging and labelling was performed manually. FEI Foods executives wanted to fully automate this process to increase efficiency and remove the potential for human error. Another key requirement was the need to provide both operators and executives with full visibility of the production process and OEE, as well as access to key operational data on which continuous improvement decisions could be based. They determined that to provide the necessary information for operations and engineering teams, an integrated SCADA solution was needed that was able to interconnect all the new automation equipment over the factory data communication network. In addition, the new solution needed to interface with the FEI Foods enterprise resource planning (ERP) and inventory control systems, as well as printing, labelling and applicators. This would enable automatic production declarations to be performed at the end of every batch. The systems integrator for FEI Foods, PLATCON, in turn selected Movicon.NExT software as a platform able to provide full SCADA functionality and go beyond it.
The Movicon.NExT platform interconnects all the new automation equipment over the factory data communication network. In addition, it interfaces with the FEI Foods enterprise resource planning (ERP) and inventory control systems, as well as printing, labelling and applicators. This enables automatic production declarations to be performed at the end of every batch. To eliminate the inefficiency and inconvenience of a manual inventory system, Emerson worked with PLATCON to develop a webservices interface to allow the Movicon.NExT platform to communicate with the inventory control system. The new system also enables the automatic transfer of production information to inkjet printers, case and pallet labelers and barcode scanners. The Movicon.NExT platform is connected to the factory data network, and six monitors in the control room give the operations team full process visibility. Ten web clients have been installed that provide secure remote access, enabling accredited operators to view and interrogate the process. All the stand-alone automation systems have been integrated, allowing communication with each other via Ethernet and providing complete visibility of the process and product data tracking. To understand the OEE and performance of the facility, the Movicon Pro.Lean™ module connects to 20 pieces of equipment. Key performance data is collected and analyzed to calculate the OEE and measure downtimes. This provides FEI Foods with process improvement insights, and helps the company reduce equipment failures and improve OEE.
In addition to providing the functionality to meet the requirements of FEI Foods, the Movicon.NExT platform proved to be easy to use and a powerful development tool for system integrator PLATCON.
While FEI Foods chose to implement Movicon.NExT software in a greenfield plant, the platform is easy to integrate and put to use in existing installations. If you’d like to read the entire Food Manufacturing story, you’ll find it here.