Exclusive: Unilever applies batch software to freshen deodorant production

Body odor isn't pleasant, but most people rarely have to smell it thanks to Unilever's personal care products plant (Raeford, NC), which has 600 employees and runs a 24/7 operation. Faced with a required relocation, consolidation and upgrade of its deodorant application, the 72-year-old company recently implemented Rockwell Automation's (Milwaukee, WI) batch management software and used its Glo...

04/01/2003


Body odor isn't pleasant, but most people rarely have to smell it thanks to Unilever's personal care products plant (Raeford, NC), which has 600 employees and runs a 24/7 operation. Faced with a required relocation, consolidation and upgrade of its deodorant application, the 72-year-old company recently implemented Rockwell Automation's (Milwaukee, WI) batch management software and used its Global Manufacturing Solutions (GMS) group to help meet time-to-market and production demands, and save $300,000 in engineering costs.

Unilever's deodorant operation previously used a costly and inefficient manual approach. The company evaluated several batch and control system options, but 'previous work with Rockwell's RSBizWare Batch batch management software at our facility in Clinton, CT, impressed our team,' says Randy Carter, Unilever's senior controls engineer. 'We were also impressed with Rockwell's integrated architecture and demonstrated effort to employ batch mobility and standardization concepts through ISA S88.'

Integration assistance

To start full production within its tight, 10-week timeframe, Unilever also sought help from Rockwell's GMS group to devise an implementation plan. 'Once Global Manufacturing Solutions demonstrated the ability to leverage engineering from prior installations, implementing the batch solution went smoothly,' says Steve Kullberg, Unilever's plant manager.

After conducting a design review to ensure standardization and optimization of Unilever's control systems and the production process, GMS' engineers determined that the deodorant operation could use the same programmable controller code and human-machine interface (HMI) screens that were used in the Unilever's Clinton plant. Software objects were identified by separating the Clinton plant's process control and equipment control, and examining the different phases. Applying reusable engineering concepts eliminated the need to rewrite code or develop new HMI screens, which can take up to 20 weeks.

'Not only did Global Manufacturing Solutions' modular approach and reusable capabilities help us to hit our aggressive 10-week timeframe, they also generated $300,000 in engineering savings,' adds Mr. Kullberg.

Process rolls on

Featuring 38 recipes, capable of producing 250 SKUs, the new deodorant operation uses multiple sets of tanks, with two tanks feeding each production line. These tanks process a silicon-based ingredient and other chemicals to make deodorants.

Rockwell Software RSBizWare Batch batch management software resides on one server with four clients. The batch management software manages the recipes; initiates mixing, heating and cooling phases; prompts batch procedures, such as taking samples before transferring a batch to packaging; and finally archives and uploads batch data via a Microsoft SQL server to a web page. This improves results tracking, quality assurance and troubleshooting, which are assisting Unilever's overall growth goals.

The operation also employs Rockwell's ViewAnyWare strategy, which uses its RSView human-machine interface (HMI) software to provide windows into the process at any stage. ViewAnyWare's common visualization strategy bridges the information gap between machine-level and supervisory-level interface devices. Unilever also uses Rockwell's NetLinx to configure devices, and control and collect information.

On the operation's control end, Unilever uses 12 Allen-Bradley PLC-5 controllers and an Allen-Bradley SoftLogix 5 PC-based controller for running phases without attached I/O.

Following implementation of Rockwell's batch management solution, Mr. Kullberg reports that, 'All the growth in our plant value is occurring in areas supported by Rockwell's systems. Total plant production has increased 86% and the deodorant operation alone has achieved a 283% increase in throughput in less than three years.'

For more information, visit www.rockwellautomation.com .

Jim Montague, news editor jmontague@reedbusiness.com





No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Intelligent, efficient PLC programming: Cost-saving programming languages are available now; Automation system upgrades; Help from the cloud; Improving flow control; System integration tips
Smarter machines require smarter systems; Fixing PID, part 3; Process safety; Hardware and software integration; Legalities: Integrated lean project delivery
Choosing controllers: PLCs, PACs, IPCs, DCS? What's best for your application?; Wireless trends; Design, integration; Manufacturing Day; Product Exclusive
PLCs, robots, and the quest for a single controller; how OEE is key to automation solutions.
This article collection contains several articles on improving the use of PID.
Learn how Industry 4.0 adds supply chain efficiency, optimizes pricing, improves quality, and more.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again