Prima Frutta Linden cherry packing facility: Project and installation technology details

Project and product details follow in a major Industrial Automation Group (IAG) and Prima Frutta upgrade to Prima Frutta’s Linden cherry packing facility. Questions and answers cover controllers, sensors, actuators, Ethernet, wireless, timeline, and advice.

By Jason Kieffer and Mark T. Hoske September 9, 2016

Industrial Automation Group (IAG) and Prima Frutta collaborated to upgrade Prima Frutta’s Linden cherry packing facility, increasing throughput by 50%, resulting in one of the largest cherry lines and sorters in the world, according to IAG. Control Engineering (CE) asked Jason Kieffer, project manager for IAG, more questions about the upgrade. (See related article about project system integration, with more project photos.) 


CE: How many controllers were used?

Kieffer: One Allen-Bradley L43 CompactLogix Controller from Rockwell Automation was used with nine remote Allen Bradley Flex I/O banks. Via the CompactLogix L43 platform, we created two robust EtherNet/IP networks [an industrial Ethernet protocol from ODVA], using 1768-ENBT cards-one for I/O control (for the Flex I/O racks and PowerFlex 525 drives) and one network for human-machine interface (HMI) and supervisory control and data acquisitions (SCADA) and connection to other original equipment manufacturer (OEM) machine centers.

CE: Do the tablets control or just display?

Kieffer: The tablets have full control capabilities.

CE: What’s the update rate from the controller?

Kieffer: The processor itself runs in the 3 millisecond range. I would say that there is less than a 2-second delay with the tablets. The information travels: 1) wirelessly from the tablet; 2) to the virtual local area network (VLAN); 3) to the Inductive Automation Ignition server (located in another building); 4) back over the VLAN to the CompactLogix processor; and 5) Out of the processor over the I/O network to the particular device.

CE: If the display fails, does the line continue?

Kieffer: Yes. First, we do have a backup, traditional Hope Industrial Displays screen, but it is simply a client off the Ignition system. Second, one of the big advantages on this project was the use of "throw away" tablets. If one of the "off the shelf" Dell Venue 10 tablets is stolen or damaged, it is quickly and cheaply replaced.

Sensors, actuators

CE: How many sensors of what types were included in the project?

Kieffer: There were very few sensors used on this project. We did have three Turck LT24E-R16-3LIO-EX-B1140 level sensors, but that’s it.

CE: What type of motors/drives were used and why?

Kieffer: All motors were 460 V ac motors from a variety of manufacturers. All variable frequency drives (VFDs) were Allen-Bradley PowerFlex525 from Rockwell Automation. These drives were chosen because they inherently integrate into the Logix5000 platform via the Add-On Profiles. This made the programming and installation easier. 

Networks, software

CE: What network protocols and or types of software were used to transfer the signals from sensors to controllers to actuators?

Kieffer: Network protocol was EtherNet/IP. As mentioned the HMI/machine center network was separated from the I/O network via two 1768-ENBT cards.

CE: What was wired or wireless communication and why?

Kieffer: It was a combination. The I/O network (VFDs and I/O racks) were hardwired. The HMI/OEM machine center network was wired to machine centers and the central traditional HMI, and four Moxa wireless access point (AP) clients with external antennas communicated with Dell Venue 10 tablets.

CE: How many I/O points were added?

Kieffer: A lot: More than 500 I/O points spread out through the 9 Flex I/O racks.

CE: Were safety and controls integrated in one network?

Kieffer: No. The Master Control Relay was controlled in a traditional safety relay which was located in a central panel. This central panel also housed the central EtherNet/IP switches for the HMI/OEM machine center network and the I/O network. By using a 24 V dc safety circuit, the EtherNet/IP cabling and E-stop wiring were run in the same conduit, saving money.

CE: What provides emergency-stop capabilities?

Kieffer: The tablets are not emergency stop capable. Traditional e-stops are scattered throughout the line.

CE: Is information being served to and from higher level systems?

Kieffer: The customer has an existing system, but we did not touch it. There were no legacy systems or gateway connections on this line. [subhead]Redesigned process

CE: Did the process line design change/update from the existing line?

Kieffer: Yes, it was essentially a complete re-build from scratch. The only parts of the previous line that remained were some of the old packaging equipment and box conveyors. All processing equipment, from cherries coming out of the orchard (in totes) up to the final packaging equipment, was brand new.

CE: Was training included?

Kieffer: Yes, 160 hours of startup, testing/debugging, training, and production support were included, and some IAG staff remained onsite for startup, as part of the 160 hours.

CE: How about documentation?

Kieffer: Two hard copy sets of schematics were provided for each panel [enclosure]. One hard copy stays in the panel for immediate use by support staff. The second hard copy is meant to go to customer’s project engineer/manager and archived, in case the first set goes missing. Schematics also are delivered as a PDF, while an original AutoCAD Electrical [from Autodesk] version resides on the IAG cloud-based server.

CE: What was the project timeline?

Kieffer: The project kicked off Sept. 25, 2015, and was turned over to the customer by April 1, 2016. The timeline was achieved. The interesting thing is this timeline was created very early on in the project life cycle, and it only went through a minor iteration. Our estimation of the timeline was shockingly accurate up front. 

Other project advice

CE: If someone were to undertake a similar sorting-motion control project, what other advice could you offer?

Kieffer: The key points were following our Control System Integrator Association (CSIA) project methodology, designing a robust system with good network structure, and extensive factory testing.

CE: How much time did creating the simulation/virtual environment/digital twin save?

Kieffer: It’s very difficult to determine how much time was "saved," however, the customer indicated that this is the first time they’ve been through the CSIA testing process, and they could see how much it paid off because the test/debug/startup went extremely smoothly.

Jason Kieffer is project manager for Industrial Automation Group (IAG); Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, CSIA is a Control Engineering content partner.

ONLINE extra

The Global System Integrator Database has more about Industrial Automation Group.

See additional details from the Prima Frutta Linden cherry project linked below.