Connecting highly disparate machines that exist in separate operating entities in a manufacturing plant could save many companies substantial time and money, but pressing production schedules and the status quo of existing procedures often hold them back.
A large food and beverage production facility in Italy was faced with these “islands of automation,” with 32 machines that were all essential to the process and that all depended on each other’s output, but that all operated independently on a manually based production line. The production manager received paper-based production orders and gave instructions to the machine operators from those orders. Of course, the system was personnel-intensive and fraught with the potential for human error. The company determined it needed to install a new manufacturing execution system (MES) and turned to its system integrator, Technologies for Automation (TFA).
The MES required software that could connect all of the disparate machines running on individual PLCs. The company executives were anxious for the system to be up and running as quickly as possible. TFA selected the Connext™ platform from Emerson, an OPC UA server that supports a large number of industry protocols.
The openness of the Connext platform made it possible to connect the MES system with the 32 machines on the production line in a simple and transparent way. To ensure virtually continuous operation, Connext was used in a redundant configuration.
The Connext platform is not just an OPC UA server, but it also offers a range of capabilities such as historian and data logger functionality. These provide local back-up of all the data that is exchanged between the MES system and the Connext solution. As a result, the food processing company is able to manage the collection of data to be shared with the MES platform continuously and without interruptions. Due to the inherent functionality of the Connext platform and the simplicity of the solution, the implementation was efficient with minimal downtime. The advanced integration capabilities of the Connext solution and the simplicity of deployment and implementation were decisive factors in its selection for the project.
And learn more about this simple approach to connecting disparate systems here.