Cookin' Up a Fine Elixir

End-users, system integrators and suppliers are implementing ISA-88-based solutions in many new and unexpected applications

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By Jim Montague, executive editor

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Tim Dunlap isn’t a coffee-slinging barista, but he probably makes more Frappuccino than anyone else on Earth—about 13,500 gallons per day.

That’s because he’s the engineering and maintenance manager at the Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) plant in Mechanicsburg, Pa., which brews, blends and bottles Starbucks-licensed coffee drinks for distribution by Pepsi USA throughout the eastern U.S. To keep up with demand, Dunlap says the plant underwent a major expansion two years ago, from 600 bottles per minute on one glass line to 1,400 bottles per minute on two lines.

“We’d always been automated with PLCs, but we knew we couldn’t double our production with the proprietary controls, ActiveX screens and jumper panels we had before,” says Dunlap. “So we put a team together with the plant’s staff, our system integrator, GES Technology, and DFA’s Dairy Systems to install an 800-bottle-per-minute glass line. The new line uses Rockwell Automation’s RS View and some ISA 88 integration, which was very standardized and easier to add onto. This allowed us to change code and modify screens as needed. GES had to write some code at the beginning, but now we can select among automated flow path changes.

“To change products, we used to have to make both mechanical and software changes. Now, we only have to make software changes. ISA 88 and RS View also verify critical time and temperature on the lines and help us document performance too. Even adding new flavors in the future won’t be a big capital expense.”

Happy Days

So, everybody loves batch, and it’s not because they’re all getting cookies, cupcakes or Frappuccino. The 12-year-old ISA-88 batch standard and its revisions have pretty much solidified its position in the process control world, and now potential users increasingly are calling on suppliers to include it in their solutions.

“ISA-88 has matured to the point that it’s going through revisions to comply with ISA-95,” says Tim Stout, process systems department manager for Matrix Technologies, a CSIA-certified system integrator in Maumee, Ohio. “The standard is widely accepted enough now that customers are talking about it and want to use it, so vendors are providing platforms, toolkits and software for them. We’ve written a lot of ISA-88 concept software, and the tools just keep getting better, which means it’s also easier for us to put together projects with these controls. Standard batch functions and tools are becoming the glue that everything else attaches to. At this year’s World Batch Forum meeting, we learned that batch concepts are being applied to continuous processes and at the packaging level. Batch is even standardizing relationships between process, control and IT people because it gives them all a common language.”

Why It Works

“Batch is different than process control in how it’s set up and programmed. Batch lends itself to a more modular software design, so if you create the right blocks, you can rearrange them for different applications,” says Hunter Vegas, of Avid Solutions Inc., a system integrator based in Winston Salem, N.C. “If you do it right, you can save lots of time and money because the same piece of code can be applied to all three reactors in an application, instead of having to rewrite code for each phase in a recipe.”

ISA-88 Physical Model

Figure 1
Source: Applying S88, Batch Control from a User’s Perspective by Jim Parshall and Larry Lamb, ISA, publisher.
Vegas says the potential payback on ISA-88-based batch is huge because first-time-right percentages on applications can go from 60% to greater than 90%, saving on raw materials. ISA-88 gives users the tools to make widely different products in the same vessels, which also helps reduce traditional production, cleaning and maintenance expenses.

The Basics

Similar to any process control initiative, a batch project’s organizers and developers also must evaluate the overall business goals served by their application, assess what equipment their existing facility already has and decide what it will need for their plan to succeed.

Basically, continuous processes typically run without stopping, while batches are turned on and off. Distributed control systems (DCS) typically scan every 200-500 milliseconds, while batches need scan times of 100-200 milliseconds, according to Kam Yuen, product manager for GE Fanuc’s Proficy batch execution system. He adds that GE Fanuc’s new Proficy Process System combines these DCS- and PLC-based capabilities, and can use modular, reusable software function blocks to create batch sequences and set up phases more easily.

“There’s a big difference between even a simple batch program that can be hard-coded into a PLC and a complex batch system that needs to handle 30 to 40 different products and doesn’t have a fixed path. Users must think of all their application’s stop scenarios and plan for all their contingencies,” says Todd Stauffer, Siemens Energy & Automation’s Simatic PCS 7 marketing manager. “These days, many users want to do both simple and complex, and they want to use the same software to do it. Luckily, ISA-88 and its extended definitions describe how developers should organize their software code.” (Figure 1)

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