Reliable Operations for Perishable Products

With its equipment installed in ice cream manufacturing plants all around the world, it’s handy to have a way to troubleshoot and edit operating and safety programs from centralized locations. As it designs and deploys its industrial ice cream plants, Gram Equipment uses Rockwell Automation’s scalable and flexible platforms to help provide the monitoring and control it needs to ensu...

08/01/2009


With its equipment installed in ice cream manufacturing plants all around the world, it’s handy to have a way to troubleshoot and edit operating and safety programs from centralized locations. As it designs and deploys its industrial ice cream plants, Gram Equipment uses Rockwell Automation’s scalable and flexible platforms to help provide the monitoring and control it needs to ensure process optimization and product quality. Located in Vojens, in southern Denmark, Gram Equipment delivers tailor-made, complete production lines to ice cream producers and other food processing firms looking for integrated solutions. These solutions include everything from individual assembly lines to complete production plants with mixing equipment and packaging lines. With more customers looking for increasingly advanced solutions, new installations now typically require increasing production speed, new levels of complexity, and many specialized functions. As an example, Gram Equipment is currently constructing a very large production line that will be able to produce 36,000 units per hour. Of course, every element in the system must work reliably and with a minimum of down time.

From many solutions to one

Before implementing Rockwell Automation’s Safety solution two years ago, Gram often experienced problems with traditional safety systems, typically comprising a PLC, a separate safety PLC, and a servo system. Operators and maintenance staff had to learn how to use three different software programs, including how to connect the systems so they could communicate with each other. If the plant had to be modified, it involved time-consuming changes to electrical documentation as well as programming changes which could only be carried out by a few, specially trained staff. The customer often had to do more testing spread over lengthy time periods.

Now, Gram Equipment has been able to simplify the process by moving it to one platform. Any changes related to Safety Zone control are commonly carried out in agreement with the end-user during commissioning.

Communication via EtherNet/IP

To simplify system complexity and usability, a major consideration for Gram was to base its control topology on an Allen-Bradley GuardLogix platform. This system combines standard process control and safety control in one platform.

“This saves Gram Equipment cabling and components,” says Bjarke S. Petersen, commercial engineer safety, Rockwell Automation. “But it also saves them the time it used to take to make the systems communicate with each other. Additionally, staff training is simplified and more effective, as understanding only one platform is now required.”

Combining the three functions also allows a wider variety of engineers to modify the plant according to customer wishes. In addition, electrical documentation has been simplified significantly.

Using GuardLogix, Gram Equipment has produced automation systems for plants that can run up to 30 servo drives with integrated safety (Safe-off). The system is scalable and flexible to accommodate different plant sizes and functions, and individual parts communicate via Ethernet/IP, which has proven to be an advantage when working with international customers.

Since the standard I/O and safety I/O modules run via Ethernet/IP, troubleshooting and repairs on a plant’s I/O points anywhere in the world can be carried out from Denmark. This saves both Gram Equipment and its customers time and travel costs. An international service and support agreement between Rockwell Automation and Gram Equipment keeps these costs to a minimum, and exemplifies the close cooperation between the two companies.

Rockwell Automation Safety solutions are certified according to international standards, so Gram Equipment can use Rockwell Automation Safety for customers around the world.


Author Information

Dan Hornbeck is safety market development manager for Rockwell Automation. Reach him at dbhornbeck@ra.rockwell.com .

Author Information

Dan Hornbeck is safety market development manager for Rockwell Automation. Reach him at dbhornbeck@ra.rockwell.com .