Field data access improves business performance

AOC, a global supplier of resins, gel coats, colorants and additives for composites and cast polymers, needed to use data more effectively to free up personnel; ensure consistency in production planning, scheduling, inventory management; and improve overall business performance. Already known for producing resins of exacting consistency with their proprietary manufacturing program, AOC sought t...

09/01/2006


AOC, a global supplier of resins, gel coats, colorants and additives for composites and cast polymers, needed to use data more effectively to free up personnel; ensure consistency in production planning, scheduling, inventory management; and improve overall business performance.

Already known for producing resins of exacting consistency with their proprietary manufacturing program, AOC sought to achieve even higher levels of consistency, efficiency, and production control at all five locations.

Before optimizing production processes, AOC had hundreds of production recipes maintained at each site, which was causing consistency issues. Recipes in different systems would be inconsistent because equipment differences meant formulations were vessel-specific. Also, due to inconsistency in raw material streams, technicians were required to make constant, lab analysis-based adjustments to the formulations.

A formula was changed in the Oracle system immediately; however, the change in the control system depended on availability of the process control group. This meant that a change made in Oracle on Friday night would not be available in the control system until Monday morning. AOC had product engineers spending a significant amount of time working on the process control system. Operational data was entered separately into AOC's business systems.

Danny Cox, AOC's corporate process control supervisor said, “We needed…to link our Provox and DeltaV systems to our Oracle based business system. We needed a simple, consistent method of accessing field data from plant floor devices that could communicate with multiple systems.” Overcoming these deficits would help AOC meet its primary production needs and optimize its manufacturing program.

OPC: flexible foundation

AOC's options were to keep the existing infrastructure and develop custom applications or find a more flexible, cost-efficient answer.

AOC decided to build an architecture with OPC, a standards-based industrial connectivity technology. After doing product evaluations, they chose MatrikonOPC software, because Matrikon was able to change and develop the product as needed to link AOC's systems to Oracle. AOC found custom programming via .NET was not as flexible as OPC and more expensive.

AOC used the MatrikonOPC Server for general database access (GDA) and MatrikonOPC data manager to read and write data to and from its Emerson DeltaV system. MatrikonOPC Data Manager (ODM) is a software application that transfers data from one OPC server to another. With this standard, off-the-shelf software and MatrikonOPC Server for GDA, connectivity was easily accomplished. For example, 800 points were connected and updated every second. AOC could now read and store production data and convert Oracle procedure variables to OPC tags.

“MatrikonOPC supplied a manageable method to integrate our Oracle business system with our process control systems. It was the most cost-effective approach to a complex issue,” said Cox.

The manufacturing process now gets recipe data from Oracle which reduces the need for double entry of data, Cox said. This significantly raises the level of production consistency and eliminates potential data errors. The change reduces dependency product engineers had on process control experts.

“Perhaps our largest gain may be in product engineering resources. In some areas, product engineers were spending nearly half of their time entering formulas into the control system,” Cox said. Now changes are available immediately, minimizing lost time and material due to poor batch operation.

“The Oracle system also uses the data to build reports on our manufacturing process,” said Cox. Trending and analysis reporting facilitates timely and accurate decision making, improving AOC's overall business performance.

An added benefit is integration with small PLC systems 'that would have required a complex serial solution,” said Cox. “Currently we have integrated with DeltaV, Provox, RSlinks, and Oracle.”

MatrikonOPC met AOC's criteria for being modular and transportable to all five locations. AOC has two of five plants using the software, and work on the third plant has begun.


Author Information

Matrikon is a maker of OPC-based tools and software products.




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