Joining up the data islands – Knowledge is power

Joining up the data islands

Sometimes a client turns to Denca in search of the best solution to an obvious problem – but that isn’t always the case. When we were approached by a renowned continuous strand glass fibre manufacturer, there was nothing specific that needed fixing. The company is a global operator with an excellent reputation for its high-quality services and innovation, and its existing systems all seemed to work well. What Denca was able to do was assess the process in its entirety – to see the whole picture in a way that hadn’t previously been possible – and highlight the ‘hidden’ areas where efficiency could be improved.

Our customer has several automated systems within its factory monitoring set-up, from raw material stages through to packaging. Although the management felt that each was operating effectively on its own, there was some concern that it wasn’t possible to gauge how well they were functioning together for the benefit of the overall production cycle.

Denca’s tailored approach and expertise with a wide variety of PLC, SCADA and PC based automation systems meant we were able to deliver that data and give the company a whole new level of operational intelligence. Armed with the clear, precise overview provided by this real-time data, the customer – supported by our team – was for the first time able to identify exactly where changes could be made to further streamline and improve its processes.

Our skilled engineers linked multiple existing PLC and PC based control systems, including Wonderware SCADA, Rockwell CompactLogix and ControlLogix as well as Siemens S7 PLCs – all of which control either production or packaging equipment. Endress+Hauser was selected for new gas measurement meters, which were installed along with a centralised control panel. The same principle was followed for electricity usage, with new electricity meters put in place and bespoke reporting software created to give a fresh perspective.

Utilising these state-of-the-art measures, adapted specifically to the customer’s individual circumstances, an extremely detailed and accurate picture of energy usage on site became apparent, with the most efficient areas of the plant flagged up, along with those where there was potential for savings to be made.

In the current climate, with a competitive market and strong pound driving the need to maximise efficiency at all times, this information gave the client the tools needed to make apparently small changes for optimum impact.

As the company continues to see the almost-instant benefits of aggregated process data, it is having more systems connected to the data repository and new reports are giving a unique, ongoing insight into the production operation. Uncovering efficiency improvements through the comparison of parallel processes is already delivering real savings, but the scope for further use of the information now available to the management team is vast. The additional knowledge is a hugely valuable contribution to decisions about future directions, advances in products and more.

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