Outsourcing control system integration makes sense


Data tracking mandatory for medical manufacturer

There is also a continuing and still-accelerating trend in manufacturing to implement data tracking software like Historian or MES software to track productivity, materials, waste and machine downtime. Incremental process improvements are tied to the quality of the data that can be obtained from elements within the manufacturing process. In an industry that is carefully tracking capital expenditures and measuring return on investments, this type of software improves predictability, efficiency and control over a production line. 

A Fortune 100 medical manufacturer contracted ASG to do just that. Their production process includes applying a special coating to a substrate. Processes at the facility include formulation (batch processing), coating (continuous web processing), slitting and chopping (packaging). According to the scope of work, the entire process had to comply with FDA 21CFR Part 11 regulations so that any and all records could be stored electronically regardless of which product was being produced at the facility. This type of paperless traceability is highly regulated. Previous records had been stored electronically on disparate systems provided by the various equipment OEMs; however this facility upgrade was needed to comply with revised FDA regulations and current good manufacturing practices (cGMP).

The decision was made to outsource. The existing engineering and operations staff simply didn’t have the bandwidth or the expertise to do their own work and take on this year long project simultaneously, and since it was likely that limited process improvements would be made once production was restarted, hiring additional staff was not a desirable solution.

System integrator ASG was able to leverage a combination of off-the-shelf GE Intelligent Platforms software along with custom software development to meet the project’s challenges and requirements. The ultimate goal was to integrate a server-based system to support the needs of production, quality systems and engineering personnel.

The system comprised a high-availability computing environment with three servers. One is dedicated to a 3,500 tag GE Proficy Historian, the second is an unlimited tag GE Proficy iFIX SCADA, and the third a Proficy Real-Time Information Portal Server.

Working as a coordinated project team, the system integrator and the manufacturer implemented a progressive action plan to replace the disparate data collection systems (that were the result of several different OEM installations over time) by translating all old historical files to an updated usable format.

Specifically in the coating area there was an outdated Westinghouse distributed control system (DCS) that had been in place since the late 1970’s. The DCS’s data historian used a format that was not compliant with contemporary data collection historians (such as the OPC-compliant GE Proficy Historian.) To add to that, the old historian could not be modified to meet the regulatory requirements of 21 CFR Part 11. ASG reverse engineered the WDPF historian file formats, migrated the historical data and provided a connection to the Proficy Historian server. It was imperative that seven years of contiguous historical data be available to comply with 21 CFR Part 11.

Additional actions that were implemented over the year by the joint project team included:

  • Providing modifications to an existing SCADA, connection to the Proficy Historian, and a new National Instruments LabVIEW front end for high-speed data acquisition requirements on a slitter.
  • Upgrading a winder system to provide connection to the Proficy Historian.
  • A coating area machine that utilized a VAX VMS based recipe management system was upgraded to include a solution built around Microsoft SQL Server and a Visual C# GUI interface. Of particular importance was the manufacturer’s desire to have the recipe management system look as similar to the older VAX system as possible to make the re-education of the floor personnel as seamless as possible.
  • An Invensys Wonderware node with its own internal proprietary historical format was converted to the GE Proficy Historian. The system in the formulation area communicates with 10 Allen-Bradley PLCs.
  • Lastly, ASG upgraded the GE Proficy iFIX and Real-Time Information Portal Servers to take advantage of advanced new redundancy features of the latest versions of the software. The iFIX SCADA server now consists of redundant primary and secondary servers. The data were tightly synchronized between the two servers such that if the primary server had a failure, the secondary server would continue to run with no interruptions to the control or data collection process. This provided a high degree of fault tolerance and was designed to allow critical systems to continue running without loss of data. Additionally, this system now communicates to an off-the-shelf hardware/software solution from Emerson Process Management (Ovation Distributed Control System) to replace the obsolescent Westinghouse-distributed control hardware and software. 

Kim Grant is business development manager at Applied Sciences Group. For more information about ASG, visit www.asgrp.comASG is a CSIA member as of 2/26/2015. To learn about the Control System Integrators Association, visit www.controlsys.org

<< First < Previous 1 2 Next > Last >>

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me