Rockwell and E+H Alliance

It was around five years ago that Rockwell and Endress + Hauser first announced their strategic alliance to create a partnership capable of offering comprehensive solutions for plant engineering, operation and management from one source. Another case study this week shows them delivering this for PZ Cussons, the leading personal wash company, at a new manufacturing facility recently completed, for liquid soap production (Link).

The new facility uses the control and visibility capabilities of the Rockwell PlantPAx process automation infrastructure, to remove the product and process variability caused by frequent operator intervention, and to allow the adoption of leaner manufacturing procedures. This required E+H to supply the instrumentation and fieldbus network to create accurate batching, mixing and metering systems, which work according to process and production procedures defined by the Rockwell master control system operating within the office IT structure, with data also accessible by external material suppliers over a secure extranet. Production line control is undertaken by a number of cabinet encased, line-side Allen-Bradley ControlLogix PACs, linking to FactoryTalk Batch software as a part of PlantPAx. Andy Ellams, process development manager at PZ Cussons, reports: “First-time passes are now becoming the norm. The quality standards we are seeing are very high with little or no tweaking required. We often go weeks without any production issues”. Cussons also report that due to the scalability and portability of the software, the Rockwell system has allowed pilot tests of new recipes on a small scale prior to mass production, shortening the time to market. Overall, the plant is experiencing reduced downtime, greater accuracy and shorter batch times, which is also saving energy. Other advantages have arisen in that the field instrumentation can be monitored, maintained and configured from a central location using E+H FieldCare.

Case studies like the above from Rockwell Automation are the most effective way of gaining interest in the capabilities of new products and systems, providing the same style of anecdote that knowledgeable and experienced sales engineers have chatted to customers about for years. By collecting these stories, and publishing them on Processingtalk, you can multiply this sales expertise many times over. Sales engineers know which stories will interest which potential customers: on the web the customers use their own key industry words to do the selection of what they want to hear. But without collecting your stories into an industry specific database, the customers will find other expertise from another supplier.

ARC study into FF control-in-the-field

The Fieldbus Foundation has announced the results of an ARC study into the benefits of the FF control-in-the-field (CIF) capability. Some of the project work was carried out by Industrial Systems and Control (ISC), the control-engineering consultancy closely linked to the University of Strathclyde, and other input came from Shell Global Solutions International (SGSI) who have performed extensive evaluation of control in the field. SGSI recommend CIF for simple and cascading loops, but not for complex loops. The major benefits identified by SGSI were reduced process-controller loading, reduced network traffic, and very fast loop response. This provides a performance benefit with flow and pressure control loops, and can be useful with some position/speed and temperature/pH control loops.

Field-level control is also quoted to enable greater flexibility in plant-automation strategies, because controllers are free to handle higher-level control functions such as advanced control and optimisation. The improved flow and pressure control provided by CIF, which also improves disturbance rejection, then means that the performance of other slower loops could also be improved because of the reduced network traffic and the complex interactions of control loops in process plants (Link).

Rockwell Automation launch their Mechatronics design portfolio

This week Rockwell Automation launched their Mechatronics design portfolio, offering improved optimization and collaboration software and hardware solutions to assist machinery design. Mechatronics is a collaborative venture between mechanical, electrical and control design engineers to optimise machine design. The Motion Analyser software from Rockwell interfaces with SolidWorks CAD, making it easier to select, size and optimise motion control systems, using a range of actuators, servo motors and electric cylinders particularly targeted at the packaging, medical and automotive markets (Link). In a review of the past year, the Rockwell PlantPAX process automation system was singled out as a success, achieving several notable contract wins when pitched against DCS vendors, particularly when providing a single control platform for discrete, batch, process, safety, drives and motion control. The Rockwell safety seminars have been particularly in demand, with over 400 people attending over the year.