One billion bottles a year on the wall

A glass manufacturer's new monitoring and control system has increased both the number and quality of bottles the company makes, while at the same time shattering its refining process production costs.

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 By George White, Gallo Glass Co.

W

hen it comes to making all of the bottles for one of the largest winemaking operations in the world, production processes need to be as clear as the glass itself. At Gallo Glass Co. in Modesto, Calif., just-in-time delivery means the bottles are available when needed, to help keep the wine flowing through the bottling and labeling operations, out to distribution and into millions of homes each year.

The glass plant also has to support the company’s commitments to quality, consumer safety and environmental protection. With one billion bottles being produced annually, a production system with monitoring and control software from GE, helps Gallo Glass shine.

A Toast to High Technology
The Gallo Glass plant is one of the world’s largest. It manufactures more than 100 different bottle types in various sizes, shapes and colors, and is the sole supplier to the E. & J. Gallo Winery. It serves a number of external customers, including other wineries, apple juice companies, and makers of specialty beverages such as espresso syrups.

E & J Gallo is unique for having its own glass plant which was built in 1958 on the company’s main campus.

By owning a glass plant, the company reduces the freight costs associated with shipping heavy glass and eliminates the possibility of production delays caused by delivery problems from outside bottle suppliers. The primary goal of the glass plant is to maintain a reliable and high quality supply of bottles for the winery.

            BOTTLE OF WINE, FRUIT OF THE VINE 
           
            Operating 24/7, Gallo's plant has 14 production lines and produces more than one billion bottles per year. 

At the heart of the plant’s production processes is an automated Shop Floor Information System (SFIS) from GE Fanuc Automation. Via GE’s iFIX software the integrated information system collects and presents data from all steps in bottle making, including batch, furnace, forehearth, mold shop, forming, lehr, inspection and packing. The system serves up information to multiple users at Gallo Glass, from operators on the lines to maintenance managers and senior managers who need quick, graphical reports via the web.

Shatters Waste and Maintenance Costs
With the SFIS in place, the plant’s operators have saved $5 million annually through improved quality (or Percent Pack); increased production by 5 %; reduced defects by 25%; and reduced plant downtime by 25%. It also decreased training time and helped to facilitate job changes/job sharing.

With these kinds of results, the plant’s vice president, John Gallo, has built upon his family’s long-held strategy to provide for a reliable bottle supply chain. “The vision is one of an information-centric management culture,” Gallo explains, “where every employee can combine trade craft and science in every bottle we make. Our process is complex with many interacting variables. This new technology has simplified the learning curve for new employees, making them more effective and proactive in their jobs. Ultimately we foresee use of the new technology fundamental in our journey toward Lean/Six Sigma manufacturing.”

Breaking Bottlenecks
The glass plant operates 24/7 on 14 production lines. Each line starts with hot, molten glass and ends with inspection, followed by packing. The SFIS presents data collected from all devices on the lines, and at the beginning and end of each line is an iFIX node.

With its open architecture, the software is able to connect via Ethernet TCP/IP to the plant’s installed base of equipment, such as sensing and inspection devices, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), scales and timing systems. The plant uses a client-server database architecture and operates on a server-based computing model. The iClientTS terminal server version of iFIX runs on a CITRIX server farm and has dedicated Windows terminal devices as clients.

Automation technologies at the plant started with sensing and inspection devices. From there, Gallo Glass needed to have a way to collect production data to allow the plant to make more informed decisions. The team reviewed many software packages before selecting iFIX as the single HMI / SCADA system for the whole plant. It was critical to implement one interface package and have everyone in the plant operating from the same page and sharing information.

Bruce Williams, senior production manager at Gallo Glass, says, “SFIS has brought all of my production managers together onto the playing field.”

Troy Wells, director of maintenance & engineering at Gallo Glass, notes, “The Gallo SFIS system has transformed us from a ‘make and inspect’ mentality to a ‘make, measure, and improve’ mentality. This change continually drives us back to the manufacturing process for root cause analysis and correction. SFIS drives us to make it right the first time, and this system never ceases to amaze me with its ability to constantly receive and update information that is vital to the production process.”

Wells continues, “Bottom line is that ‘What gets measured gets improved.’ SFIS is the catalyst to make this happen. From a maintenance and engineering perspective, SFIS is the first thing I look at each morning; I monitor it throughout the day, and it is the last thing I check at day’s end.”

Conceptualized by Gallo, and designed and implemented by integrator Saber Engineering (Auburn, Calif.), the SFIS system includes over 20 HMI screens and generates 30 reports for the glass plant production team. It works with an Oracle database to consolidate the data from the plant’s devices, and then transform that real-time data into dynamic text, alarm, and graphic displays.

Production Snap Shot
Information is presented on the terminals located on the lines for a quick, easy-to-view snapshot of production. Operators and managers can view Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as Percent Pack, which displays the number of bottles successfully produced for every 100 attempts; defects, losses, and production quantities by line; and more. The system provides timely notification of defects, so that operators can correct production and boost quality.

BETTER DATA, BETTER QUALITY             
             
By analyzing data from plant floor processes, Gallo engineers were able to redesign the glass molds to prevent defects and decrease cracking. 

           
The SFIS not only monitors and controls production but also acts as a real-time factory floor dashboard. Gallo Glass is collecting so much data now that it would be impossible to manually analyze it. With SFIS, the team can manipulate the data and look at it from a broader perspective to make a real difference in processes.

By analyzing the data from the plant floor processes, the team was able to redesign the glass molds to engineer out defects and decrease cracking. This change has reduced scrap and improved yield. Additionally, the team has perfected wall thickness and distribution –a long-term improvement that affects the amount of liquid that goes into the bottles–using wall thickness run charts. Using the system as an engineering and planning tool, Gallo Glass has been able to make major improvements that have saved the company money and helped increase the quality of products to consumers.

Additionally, the team has made adjustments in the batching and furnace operations through root-cause analysis. A more efficient furnace design has helped the plant use less energy. At the furnace, Gallo Glass uses a special GAS–OXY firing process to burn pure oxygen and significantly reduce nitrous oxide output. The company is the first major user of the process, and makes its own oxygen with an on-site cryogenic oxygen plant.

At an electrostatic precipitator, or scrubber, iFIX software runs on a desktop computer for further operational analysis. This has helped the glass plant reduce emissions by 80%.

After the bottles are formed, automated bottle inspection has helped the plant become more agile if there is an error on a line. The team estimates a 25% decrease in defects through timely net inspection. On the lines, video cameras take pictures of the moving bottles, and the system analyzes for variances in shape or pattern, and light and dark spots. A defect could be a piece of unmelted sand, or could take the form of a bubble or blister, seen as a dark spot.

Another machine inserts a plastic dowel into each bottle to check for free, open and unobstructed bottle necks or, or in the parlance of the industry, a “choked neck.” Inspection also includes checks for cracks or chips at the top of threaded bottles. Another inspection ensures a clean sealing surface, to prevent leakage.

Defects can also make a bottle structurally weak, prone to breaks, chips or cracks. Gallo Glass automatically inspects 100% of the bottles, and follows that with automated random sampling inspection methods and manual inspection. When defects are found, the operator can use the system to adjust machines properly, check calibrations or perform additional tests.

Between production and inspection, Gallo Glass collects more than 2.5 million packets of data per day in the glass plant. The system provides an Internet portal dashboard with global visibility into the information. The thin client system works on dial up for remote connections, and users can also access via Virtual Private Network (VPN) and the Internet.

In addition to production improvements, the data helps the plant maintain its  ISO certification and archive information as part of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan under the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices. Operators can document any issues by simply filling out an iFIX screen for a HACCP. Susan Anders, quality manager in charge of HACCP, says, “We have automated the entire HACCP documentation process and can analyze cumulative trends and compliance easily and quickly.”

Head of the Glass
Since implementing the system and refining processes, Gallo Glass has increased both the number and quality of bottles that the team makes. Gallo Glass has achieved industry-leading results worthy of a toast!
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