Expanding Your Process Automation Plant Requires Bigger Data Too

Foremost Farms Doubles Production and Adds Data Acquisition and Historian Functions to Its SCADA/HMI System to Find Exceptions and Improve Operations

By Jim Montague

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Aslo Read "Moving Your Historian to the Cloud -- Carefully"

Keeping Tabs with DAQ

Tuzinkewich reports that, "Using the DAQ functions in Proficy Historian really helped our processes because it showed any failures we needed to know about. We secure daily exception reports that highlight process areas that may need adjustment or maintenance attention. We receive tank monitoring, intake silo and clean-in-place exceptions through data comparison. Proficy software then allows supervisors to make online sign-offs on each exception. Electronic data acquisition and trending also means we can respond quicker and simply punch in a recipe and date for a new process."

Tuzinkewich adds the team that helped Foremost Farms migrate from recorders to Proficy Historian included staff from its IT, engineering, quality
assurance and safety departments, as well as its system integrator. They all reviewed the concept, plans and steps for making the transition. The team then enlisted help from the plant's supervisors and gradually gained their support too.

Overall, using Proficy Historian instead of chart recorders saved about $250,000, but there were other benefits as well. "These savings helped the expansion's budget, but it also helped that we could secure our production data more easily. Once people saw it, they began to ask, 'Can it do this, too?'" says Tuzinkewich. "So we not only had happy auditors, but we also had production supervisors who could greatly reduce the number of values they had to chase on Fridays for reports on Mondays. For example, the plant can now correlate downtime or pump failures with increases or reductions in alkalinity, observe how changes in product quality may be related to changes in motor and equipment performance, and make the necessary adjustments to make sure quality is maintained."

Tuzinkewich reports that other keys to Foremost Farms' operational success at its 12 plants include: developing and publishing standard operating procedures, especially for newer technologies such as robotics; building bridges by forming alliances and teams focused on topics such as manufacturing, engineering, quality, safety and production; and always keeping up the search for new ideas. "We challenged the norms and tried to rule nothing out in looking for new ways to improve production at the plants," says Tuzinkewich. "As a result, we had to prepare for dealing with fears of change from those who didn't want their jobs to be different, but we also needed to be ready for those who were on board and excited so our efforts would go smoothly. In this situation, it's extremely important to keep up momentum and stay energized. So we always kept up communications because you can never over-communicate on a project like this."

Thanks to the success of the new system in helping the Appleton plant double its production, Tuzinkewich reports that seven of Foremost Farms' other plants could use the same data gathering, organization and analysis.

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