Streamworks’ Durban office has recently assisted in the upgrade of an existing batching system at Lever Ponds, a subsidiary of Unilever South Africa, situated in Durban. This particular batching system is responsible for the automated scheduling and production of Lux body soap, one of Unilever South Africa’s leading brands.
The main objectives for upgrading the existing batching system is to improve product quality, increase production and store and easily access process information in a user-friendly manner.
A full Rockwell solution was chosen by the client for this project. The system architecture was jointly designed by the Lever Ponds Engineering team and Rockwell's GMS division. The system comprises four workstations and three Control Logix PLCs. Two user nodes are located in the production plant; a batching view node incorporating the batching server is located in the control room in addition to the Microsoft Sequel Server and RSView node. All the workstations or nodes are connected to the main server via Ethernet. The batching server communicates with the PLCs via the RSLinx OPC server.
RSBatch Campaign Manager is used to control batch-based production runs. The production requirements are entered into the system by an operator via a user interface. RSBatchCampaign then translates this information into either a single batch or a complete campaign run.
RSBatch provides efficient and predictable operation of batching processes. It allows the user to generate batching information during batch runs and leads to improved product quality and increased production due to the fact that recipes can be stored and reused.
RSView is the graphical interface of the system and allows users to open graphical displays of what is taking place within the plant. This interface is mainly used to monitor and control plant equipment and processes.
RSLogix is the software used to program the three Control Logix PLCs. RSLinx is the communication server providing all plant floor equipment connectivity. This server is an OPC compliant data server, OPC being the standard for all plant floor communication between data servers and software applications.
RSNetworx allows the user to obtain information on network components within the plant via a configured graphical display screen. This software also performs a scheduling function for all network components and coordinates and combines all of the schedules to ensure that the entire network configuration is suitable to handle all the requests that are made on the system. This software also has the functionality of acting like a command centre for all network control and messaging communication traffic.
Last, but not least, RSBatch Archiver is used to take all batch history and transport it into the Microsoft Sequal database.
The most unique feature of the system is that it is truly an automated system in that the only human intervention required is that of an operator physically scheduling the batches. Training was provided to Lever Ponds technical department on all aspects of the system and its full functionality. The engineering and commissioning was carried out by Geoff Dall of Streamworks together with the Lever Ponds Engineering Team. The project took approximately ten weeks to complete.
Shannon Solyom, Streamworks
011 803 4376
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