EPIC automates a dairy product batch mixing process and packaging line for a leading food and beverage manufacturer
CLIENT: Fortune 500 Company
INDUSTRY: Food and Beverage
KEY ENGINEERING FEATURES:
- Allen Bradley PLC with DeviceNet MCC
- RSview HMI
- Line relocation
- Firmware upgrades to existing control system
- Ammonia cooling system
- Batch mixing system
- Completed same project in multiple plants for same client
- Single batch mixing system for 100+ different recipes
- Outdated pre-existing system communication components
- Tight project schedule
- Product thickening required before entering filler
- All plant controls executed by a single pre-existing PLC processor
- Shared ammonia cooling system sensitive to high demand loads
AN EPIC SOLUTION
EPIC first completed preliminary design to assure the most efficient process and accurate cost quotation. After reviewing the objectives and challenges with the client, EPIC’s engineers completed an analysis of the line and created an implementation plan that included the following elements:
- Relocation of line
- Firmware upgrades to outdated communication components
- Controls upgrade to existing PLC to keep costs low
- Flexible batch mixing system with pre-set programs for 100+ products
- Reprogrammed ammonia cooling system to cool and thicken product before entering filler
- Weight based filling into 3lb and 8oz packages
EPIC clearly defined the scope of the project with the client during front-end engineering. The customer required line automation to the filler, with manual placed lids, casing and palletizing work performed after the filler. EPIC provided options to the lidding, casing and palletizing and the customer chose a combined solution that included the manual portion.
EPIC’s Proven Solution
EPIC completed the following steps in multiple plants for our food and beverage packagingcustomer. Relocation of an existing line from another plant was finished first. Firmware upgrades were made to the communication components, before the Allen Bradley PLC control system was upgraded. EPIC minimized downtime by completing the controls upgrades during regular plant operations.
The new controls utilized job storage, allowing the client to mix over 100 different recipes on a single batch mixing and packaging line. The installed mixing system whips and warms the product with integrated heat exchangers to achieve a homogenous mixture. Nitrogen injectors were mounted in the mixing tank and nitrogen is injected into certain recipes which call for it.
EPIC completed intricate controls work on the ammonia cooling system. The controls for this system were delicate to program, due to the ammonia being used throughout the plant for various processes. With too much ammonia drawn out of the system, hot liquid back flush down the system and be unable to cool the product.
EPIC ensured that the ammonia cooling system would not be overloaded by demand to properly cool the product leaving the whip tank. The controls work done on this system lets the product thicken and cool before entering the filler, where it is filled by weight into 3lb and 8oz containers.
Automation ends at the filler, with the rest of the packaging line, including lidding of containers, casing and palletizing done manually.
- Successful relocation of one line and successful startup of several lines in multiple plants
- Improved product output
- Met tight construction schedule by completing programming work on time
- Clearer communication between existing plant processor and new equipment through communication and controls upgrades
- Reduced costs by utilizing existing system components
- Streamlined production for 100+ products into a single production and packaging line
THE EPIC DIFFERENCE
EPIC provided expert insight during the automation and start-up process. Because of EPIC’s experience in the field, EPIC was able to quickly and correctly program the controls, and prevent problems before they arose.
The EPIC Difference includes several key features that assure a projects success:
- Front-End Engineering to ensure that the proper steps are taken during project scope development
- Plant engineering experience that assists clients to identify needs, pinpoint objectives and provide the most appropriate manufacturing equipment for the application
- Open door client policy to promote innovation. We invite clients to visit EPIC to experiment with new processes, technologies and techniques that push the limits of traditional engineering
- Accountability to responsibly manage our clients’ projects from start-to-finish and beyond
- A transfer of knowledge (not just a basic training) for the systems and equipment we provide
- Single point of direct contact during the entirety of the project
- State-of-the-art shop which decreases down-time and increases the speed of project completion