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Case Study: Packaging Line Control System Migration

The Challenge

Packaging Line Control System MigrationA Global consumer products supplier uses an on-site warehouse to accumulate finished cases, palletize unit loads, stretch wrap completed loads, and send the unit load information to a global supervisory pallet tracking system. Each Palletizer and Stretch Wrapper had its own legacy Allen-Bradley PLC-5 and Panelview HMI. The PLCs and Panelviews were connected via a legacy Data Highway Plus network. Due to the age of the control systems, the customer was experiencing significant down-time due to component failure. Additionally, the legacy communication system limited communication capability, which constrained reporting capabilities.

In order to eliminate costly downtime, provide a path for future scalability, and provide enhanced reporting capabilities, the supplier realized that they needed to migrate the systems to a modern control system platform, all while maintaining an aggressive production schedule. 

The Solution

McEnery Automation engineers worked closely with the customer’s engineering and production personnel to gain a full understanding of the system and its limitations, as well as their goals and needs. We developed a new control system strategy, including conceptualization, control system design, network design, drawing creation, hardware specification, programming, and system implementation. The new platform employed Rockwell Automation ControlLogix programmable automation controllers (PACs), which allowed for streamlining and consolidation of disparate processors. McEnery’s PLC program migration included significant program improvements – not simply a brute-force conversion. The new program leveraged enhanced ControlLogix capabilities, and extra effort was taken to identify and remove large amounts of abandoned or obsolete code. The various PanelView HMI applications were migrated into a single Rockwell Software FactoryTalk View ME application, and incorporated into Panelview Plus units. Additional visualization capability was provided by means of dual overhead televisions, which provided operators and supervisors with status and alarm information. McEnery Automation developed the design for a new production Ethernet network to replace the Data Highway Plus network, utilizing Hirschmann switches.

The Result

The new modern control system platform has allowed our customer to realize gains in equipment utilization by providing increased reliability, availability, and stability. As a result of the detailed planning that was developed in conjunction with the customer’s personnel, all upgrades were performed with minimal impact to the production schedule. Component failure downtime has been drastically reduced, and the new streamlined system has allowed their technicians quickly troubleshoot the system and resolve issues, minimizing downtime. The new network design has dramatically enhanced their information capabilities, enabling secure flow of production data across their enterprise. McEnery Automation also developed and presented comprehensive training for the managers and technicians on the new system.