Improving plant performance

Gain insight by analysing process data

Background/Problems

Some processes are highly complex and difficult to comprehend. There may be many process parameters affecting the process, for example temperatures in different zones, flow rates, pressures, speeds, cooling processes, moisture and environmental factors.

In these situations the company's best process experts can struggle to understand what is going on and how one parameter can affect another. So when trying to make improvements, perhaps to increase yield or throughput, process engineers need to experiment with recipe settings and track results. When things go wrong they need access to historical data to see what was happening.

The process parameter data is in the PLCs controlling the process. It is desirable to capture and view the key process variables in real-time and make available to operatives running the process and also provide a historic database for continuous improvement activities.

Solution

The Process Parameter module of Shopfloor-Online MES is a built in historian and a solution with the following:

  • Connect to multiple PLCs to collect process parameter data via OPC
  • Collect data from hundreds of parameters in real time (parameters can be variables like temperatures or digital signals and alarms)
  • Variable process parameters can have specifications associated to track when parameters move outside specification limits.
  • Very easily add new parameters through simple configuration
  • Track continuous parameters like temperatures, pressure on a sampled basis
  • Track items on an event basis, when the data changes - for example: machines stopping/starting, alarm events
  • Chart parameters and present data in real-time on dash boards
  • Run historical reports
  • Provide deeper analysis, for example show one parameter, when another was in a specific range
  • Look at process parameters only when the process is running

When Used with Other Modules

Shopfloor-Online MES is completely integrated with all the other factory data that is within its scope, e.g. production orders, product being made, materials and material batches being consumed, production quantities etc. This extra information is extremely valuable for diagnostic and traceability purposes, as well as providing greater insight from an analytical perspective.

Benefits

The key benefits of this are:

  • Visibility - creating visibility of key process parameters to help those responsible for managing the process to keep it under control and performing well
  • Traceability - keep a record of key process parameters as part of the production traceability records e.g. oven temperatures, cooling rates
  • Root cause analysis - a valuable resource for investigating the root cause when problems have occurred
  • Process knowledge - a tool for understanding process interactions and discovering more about the process
  • Remote diagnostics and support - many times the process experts may not be located at the factory but at another facility - with web access this provides a means to engage remote process experts
  • Have some; want more - the biggest testament to the Process Parameter module is that within a few weeks on installing it, most customers rapidly expand the number of parameters being collected to collect more!

"Our processes are very complex, we track hundreds of parameters that can have an effect. Initially we used this to find out the root cause when things went wrong, but now we are alerted when key parameters move outside limits"