Controlling the future of your business
May 1, 2008
by Mike Häefeli
Grain processors worldwide are currently beset by rising energy costs and higher prices for raw materials. The optimization of the entire production process is becoming increasingly important and is therefore moving to the center of attention.
“Single-source supply” is the formula for businesses aiming to successfully shape their future. A sustainable increase in overall efficiency and uptime of a production plant is only possible on the basis of state-of-the-art automation designs matched to the specific process technology and offering consistent data transparency.
The main requirement for plant automation is a precise aligning between technology, engineering, production system design and process mastery. Linking up these separate elements and assuring that they intermesh dependably is the function of process automation.
Rises in energy and raw material prices call for targeted and documented utilization of resources. The focus of an advanced process automation design is on the consistent registration, processing and representation of production data and process parameters. To improve efficiency, it is necessary to know exactly where the different resources are applied and under what conditions. This requires a consistent display and evaluation concept, for example, of energy consumption and capacity utilization data or weight and quality data. Complete integration of analytical equipment, scales or machine controllers enable online data analyses to be generated.
In order to respond rapidly to events as they arise, the relevant information must be provided at all levels – anywhere and at all times. Information and active support in evaluating and interpreting key parameters of the ongoing production process make it easier for managers to assess, evaluate and fine-tune individual operations.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and data transparency are the basis for successfully optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness of processing systems. The provision of a fast overview over the entire process, but also of views down to the individual detailed levels, allows operations to be streamlined and fine-tuned. Modern concepts enable user interfaces to be configured and selected on a user-oriented and individualized basis. For example, it should be possible for different users to adjust font sizes dynamically, zoom process graphics as required, and configure reports without restrictions. Online switching of languages and regional settings is helpful to cater the needs of specific regions. Such user-friendly features help prevent manipulating errors and master even complex process operations with ease.
DOCUMENTED QUALITY ASSURANCE
Documented quality assurance is no longer a mere option in modern production plants, but a necessary component of any quality management. Modules which log each single intervention in the control process offer the possibility of permanent retracing and detection of any irregularities.
Complete, seamless and uninterrupted retracing of production processes is needed to document production and product traceability. Consistent integration of process equipment is the basic tool for assuring reliable recording of the origin, processing history and distribution and whereabouts of products.
Modular automation systems that can be expanded through add-on technology allow such systems to be optimally tailored to the specific size, design, or complexity of any given production plant and to be adjusted to the actual needs of customers.
Top flexibility is required not only in the areas of production and data reliability. Another increasingly important requirement is to provide optimal support in production planning, cost reduction and capacity utilization.
The market is more dynamic than ever. Globalization is part of our everyday lives, and price pressures and legal requirements are increasing.
For success in such an environment, you must be able to rely on production plants that offer maximum uptime and optimal performance. Buhler’s WinCoS.r2offers a favorable price-to-performance ratio, provides compatibility with all commonly used systems and can be customized to suit every company-specific need. WinCoS.r2 is an automation system which integrally combines process technology and automation.
WinCoS.r2 comprises more than 80 functions to improve profitability according to the customers’ needs. The functions are grouped in the following modules: product and production security, production planning assistance, operating and visualization, production traceability, data management, management information, plant service and maintenance, and machine integration.
Mike Häefeli is sales manager, automation grain milling, at Buhler AG, Uzwil, Switzerland. He may be contacted at email@example.com.