2014 ARC Industry Forum: Applying programming standards to system integration

Certified integrators are important for the implementation of PackML, according to Jeff Shiepe, project engineer at Nestle. In his presentation at the 2014 ARC Industry Forum, he toplined some integration challenges and lessons learned in a recent Nestle factory expansion.


It is important to use a certified integrator for a PackML implementation, said Jeff Shiepe, project engineer for electricity and automation at the Nestle professional LJ Minor Factory in Cleveland, Ohio, at his 2014 ARC Industry Forum presentation entitled “Lessons learned in the system integrator-end-user customer relationship.”

Nestle makes bases for bases, sauces, and concentrates. The factor is flexible, small batch, and custom. In 25 years, Shiepe’s factory expanded its 200,000 square-foot facility by 175,000 square. Increasingly the factory has transitioned to automation

Schiepe toplined some challenges associated with the expansion:

  • Maintain flexibility and quality
  • Process orders came through multiple systems.
  • Complete integration with MES and ERP systems, adding packaging side of the factory
  • Communication among equipment was needed to support the business model.

Nestle installed supervisory controls through the PackML standard, connecting equipment PLCs to supervisory control (PackML) up to MES/ERP, propagating appropriate data between layers based on the PackML unit states. The system provides triggers to MES for automated transactions.

Getting buy-in on PackML value was a challenge, so it was important to hire a certified integrator with PackML experience to correlate project parameters and how PackML would be implemented. Integrator explained concepts and benefits in layman’s terms to those in the plant.

Working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) was a challenge, and the integrator helped since PackML isn’t the standard for most OEMs. Integrator provided sample PLC code to all OEMs and worked as necessary with OEM engineers.

Lessons learned:

  • Must develop well-defined specs, and all stakeholders must agree. Once coding starts, changes are costly.
  • PackML needs more exposure to global OEMs and should be part of their offerings.
  • Until OEMs embrace PackML, there will be additional costs, but benefits outweigh them.
  • Have a contingency plan. If OEMs can’t or won’t do it, ensure integrators can.
  • Ensure that the integrator understands PackML (or any technologies used) and can train OEMs to use it.
  • As a last resort, the integrator has to be willing to write the code if the OEM can’t or won’t.
  • Develop checks and balances to herd off any problems.

- Mark T. Hoske and Jordan M. Schultz, content managers, CFE Media, Control Engineering, and Plant Engineering, mhoske@cfemedia.com, jschultz@cfemedia.com.

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