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Visible Data Means Operations Excellence

Oct. 29, 2014
Coca-Cola and GE Lighting Use Proficy Workflow, Historian, iFix HMI SCADA and Portal Software to Streamline Lighting and Refreshment Production
About the Author: Jim Montague
Jim Montague is the Executive Editor at Control, Control Design and Industrial Networking magazines. Jim has spent the last 13 years as an editor and brings a wealth of automation and controls knowledge to the position. For the past eight years, Jim worked at Reed Business Information as News Editor for Control Engineering magazine. Jim has a BA in English from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and lives in Skokie, Illinois.

Check Out Montague's Google+ profile.

Seeing is believing, and bringing operational information into the light makes it usable by everyone in an enterprise—allowing them all to make faster, more productive decisions.

This enhanced awareness was especially useful at GE Lighting, which recently reinvented itself to transition from manufacturing millions of homogenous, incandescent light bulbs to developing tailored, LED lighting solutions for its many customers.

Similarly, Coca-Cola gained new insights to help further optimize production, while also taking advantage of cloud-based data gathering, analysis and protection. These experiences were described by Craig Platt, IT director at GE Lighting, and Ioan Batran, automation engineering director at Coca-Cola Refreshments (CCR), in their presentation, "Operational Excellence: Improve Data Visibility Across the Enterprise" at the GE Intelligent Platforms 2014 User Summit in Orlando, Florida.

"Incandescent bulbs were our bread and butter, but now it's going to be unlawful to manufacture them. Fortunately, we're prepared on the LED side, but we also had to combine a 75-year-old business with what is basically a start-up organization," said Platt. "Where lighting used to be a replacement business at the back of the supply chain, we had to move further up into the supply chain because LED is a fixtures-and-solutions business. So instead of making 3.5 million of the same bulb per day at one plant, we had to move to configuring LED solution for individual users. We also had to reduce our order-to-ship (OTS) cycle time from 30 days to 10 days and improve our OTS fill rate from 70% to 90%."

With help from its reorganization and GE's Proficy Workflow software, Platt reported that GE Lighting streamlined its assembly and OTS processes, reconfigured and integrated its manufacturing lines, improved its raw material flows and implemented a visual material management system. "We created a supermarket and mini-market approach, used Kanban cards and flow, adopted on-demand label printing and got down to 10 days for one product line and then added others," said Platt. "In fact, our mini-market picking is done with wearable, on-wrist PCs that are all controlled by our overall MES system. Now customers can see their units as they're manufactured, and this gives everyone more confidence."

Refreshing Soda Pop Production

"We can compare the performance of plants, lines and even individual machines." Coca-Cola Refreshments' Ioan Batran on the company's 70-plant deployment of KPI dashboards based on GE Intelligent Platforms technology.

Meanwhile, though it's been using Proficy software for many years, Batran reported that Coca-Cola recently revamped its application at 70 manufacturing facilities. "We focused on reducing complexity in our supply chain, pushed back against inefficient customization, did a lot of root cause analysis and concentrated on useful action," said Batran. "In our line information systems (LIS), we sought to better track line assets, increase efficiency, reduce equipment losses and downtime, and improve our decisions. Our LIS basically tells us if we're meeting our promises."

Batran added that all levels at Coca-Cola's production facilities need data from their LIS, so simplifying their software and standardizing their control architectures makes them easier to deploy and support. This 70-plant renovation began by updating the LIS server at each facility with Proficy Historian, iFix HMI SCADA and Portal dashboard software. These solutions allow each LIS to deliver real-time and historical data, and then push reported KPIs to an SQL enterprise database via Sync Agent software and Microsoft Azure to Coca-Cola's cloud-based server.

"We started this program last year, and now we can compare the performance of plants, lines and even individual machines," explained Batran. "LIS management routines and practices measure and manage our manufacturing processes to maintain and improve performance," said Batran. "We're also implementing paperless guidance, so we can further un-cloud our crystal ball and focus our decisions more precisely on what we need to do."

These improvements allow the LIS to generate tactical reviews that let users respond to specific operational events, and produce strategic reviews that let them address continuous improvement efforts by identifying trends, patterns and root causes. "The reviews help us implement better management routines, which need to be backed up by appropriate levels of change management," added Batran. "You also have to secure leadership support and stakeholder buy-in."

Views available on Coca-Cola's LIS-based system include plant overviews, production line layouts, historical machine status, short-interval control reports, enterprise-level displays and others. These displays can be presented on PCs, tablet PCs and smartphones. "The enterprise LIS even lets us see selected KPIs on multiple lines, so we can compare the performance of different machines," added Batean. "Next steps include implementing more paperless capabilities and autopilot management routines, as well as improving overall management routines, coaching and auditing."

About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control. 

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