Beauty is as beauty does...

This morning I sat in on the Household and Personal Care Industry Forum, and heard some fascinating stories. The Household and Personal Care Industry is a strong vertical market for Rockwell Automation, as industry team director Mike Jamieson pointed out in the HPC Industry Forum Wednesday morning at Automation Fair 2007. He described the business drivers that control the vertical. Customer satisfaction is the key driver. Operational efficiency, globalization, outsourcing of manufacturing, and regulatory compliance are the forces that impact on the industry's ability to provide that all-important customer satisfaction.
So they have turned to Rockwell to provide solutions.
"Our scope of offerings is really a value-add continuum," Jamieson said, "from components and intelligent motor control through integrated architecture and information solutions, all the way to service and support."
He noted that one of the most important things Rockwell provides is seamless simplicity. "You want a system that makes it easy for an operator to introduce a new recipe," he said. "We also offer pre-packaged vertical solutions so that we can deliver a pre-validated solution that'll start up first try. We have a whole library of those solutions."
Jamieson went on to introduce two OEMs and an end user who made his case for him.
Canned Customization
Brad Stasny from New Brunswick Scientific made no bones about why this manufacturer of fermenters, bioreactors and other devices for the cosmetics and pharmaceuticals industry standardized on Rockwell Automation.
"At the end of the day, we get simplified software using RSLogix 5000, decreased lead times for our customers; reduced service calls and service call time, with flash card upgrades for software, and we met our goal: not to radically change the look and feel of our control systems but to change what was behind the scenes."
NBS partnered with Rockwell in 2006, using Compact Logix, Panelview Plus for Operator Interface terminals, Powerflex drives, and assorted additional industrial grade components. "We're compatible with ISA88 for recipe management and trending tools, conforming to GaMP guidelines, and we have a fully configurable system that we can off the shelf customize in many different ways"”and which provides the electronic record keeping that CFR21 Part 11 requires," Stasny concluded.
The Diaper Dilemma
Jeff Wold and Kevin Zeinemann, from Curt G. Joa, Inc., one of the world's leading manufacturers of diaper-making machinery, told of their ongoing reinvention of their 75 year old integrator/machine builder, located in Wisconsin. "We call it Joa 2.0," Zeinemann cracked, "after Web 2.0. We need to leverage our automation technology without ovewhelming the customers."
"We're in a very confidential business," Wold said, "and we're under a lot of pressure from our customers."
Zeinemann chimed in, "Our challenges are cost containment, providing fast response and shortened delivery time, keeping up with new customer demands, future-proofing our designs"¦and did I mention cost containment???"
Previous to standardizing on Rockwell Automation, Joa had "8 vendors, 4 networks, lots of wires and one big headache!"
Zeinemann explained that they have now migrated to a system built around Logix, with Ethernet/IP for most communications and Sercos for the servo drives. They've even incorporated GuardLogix Safety PLCs into their systems for compatibility. They've taken into account standardized releases, and they have even put together a library of widgets for the HMIs. "We see our machines in the future with full fieldbus communications, and probably lots of wireless connectivity."
Wold showed a video of some Joa machines in operation"”one making diapers, one making medical wound coverings. The products moved through the machine so fast that it was impossible to see them. You could only see a blur.
Okay, You Do It
Last on the dais but certainly not least, was Crisanne Mortensen, Engineering Manager for the Clinton, Conn., facility of Unilever Americas. One of the oldest Unilever facilities, the 125 year old plant has aging pains, and when Mortensen took her present job, not a single controls engineer. Her boss told her, "Figure it out! I don't want to get called on the weekends."
 Clinton operates 24/6, producing 285 SKUs with 3000+ changeovers per year, and over 5000 batch runs a year, out of that 125 year old plant with 9 processing ramps, 18 packaging lines, and 16 rigid packaging lines, making their own bottles.
Mortensen said she wanted to have a life too, and when she determined that it would be impossible to hire a complete control systems engineering department, she called Rockwell and outsourced her entire automation engineering function to RA.
The Clinton facility piloted a partnership with Rockwell for 24/7 support after suffering 66 hours per month downtime due solely to controls issues.
Rockwell studied the plant's problems, staffed five engineers on call (and it's always the same set of engineers, Mortensen said, not like calling a support line and taking pot luck). Rockwell maintains a program library with check-out privileges, troubleshoots through a heavily cyber-protected DSL remote service line, and Mortensen and the Rockwell rep have a monthly review process.
They've experienced a reduction of issues of 75% in the first 90 days, with increased cycle time of 20% on key ramps, by downtime reduction.
Rockwell provides full solutions, with root cause analysis, not spot solutions. "And they are "˜upskilling' my technicians everytime there's a problem, too," she reported.
Unilever pays a flat fee monthly. Rockwell even manages the Capital Expenditure projects as full members of the engineering team. They write the CAPEX proposals, Mortensen approves and gets Unilever management buy in, and then Rockwell executes the proposal, and manages the cash flow with reporting, just as if they were staff engineers.
"This created a dynamic solution, where for a small amount of money, we have access to all of Rockwell," Mortensen said.