Awards For Best Application of HMI/SCADA

Awards For Best Application of HMI/SCADA

It’s not the technology; it’s what you do with it. Here are companies (and their engineers) who have done some cool projects with HMI/SCADA software. Inductive Automation has selected the recipients of its Ignition Firebrand Awards for 2018. The announcements were made at the Ignition Community Conference (ICC) in September.

The Ignition Firebrand Awards recognize system integrators and industrial organizations that use the Ignition software platform to create innovative new projects. Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with tools for the rapid development of solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition is used in virtually every industry, in more than 100 countries.

The Ignition Firebrand Awards are presented every year at ICC. The award-winning projects are selected from the ICC Discover Gallery, which features the best 15 Ignition projects submitted by integrators and industrial organizations.

“Once again, we had a lot of variety with the Firebrand Award winners this year,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Many industries were represented — automotive, oil & gas, food & beverage, water/wastewater, and more. It was great to see quality projects in all kinds of settings.”

“It’s inspiring to see the creative applications people are building on top of the Ignition platform,” said Travis Cox, co-director of sales engineering for Inductive Automation. “Every year, people create some really interesting projects, and this year was no exception.”

These Ignition Firebrand Award winners demonstrated the versatility and power of Ignition:

  • Brown Engineers (Little Rock, Ark.) took a unique approach to improving the filter backwash process for a water treatment plant at the City of Hot Springs. Brown used the Ignition SCADA platform to dramatically improve the automatic backwash, conserve water, improve water quality, and initiate collection of filter data needed to extend regulatory run-time limits. See the video here.
  • ECS Solutions (Evansville, Ind.) and Blentech Corporation (Santa Rosa, Calif.) partnered on a project that brought a unified platform to JTM Food Group’s new state-of-the-art plant in Harrison, Ohio. The result was a SCADA system that included the full spectrum of process automation. The Ignition application includes material management, formulation control, batch processing, and process control. See the video here.
  • Open Automation SRL (Santa Fe, Argentina) improved operations for a Cargill-owned animal nutrition plant. The project used Ignition to increase efficiency, productivity, and traceability without increasing labor. Greater access to data, less paper, and improved product quality were just a few of the benefits. See the video here.
  • Roeslein & Associates (St. Louis, Mo.) helped global automotive supplier Dana Incorporated increase productivity by 30 percent at some of its sites. The project provided real-time statistical analysis and visualization of machine data to enable better and faster decision-making. The flexible solution can be leveraged by Dana in numerous additional plants. See the video here.
  • Tamaki Control (Auckland, New Zealand) created a comprehensive clean-in-place scheduling system for the largest yogurt-manufacturing facility in the world: the Chobani plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. The solution increased visualization and made it much easier for operators to share information. It can also be leveraged for other uses at Chobani plants. See the video here.
  • Weisz Bolivia SRL (Buenos Aires, Argentina) solved weather-related data-communication problems for the largest offshore oil operation in Argentina. Results included better access to data, easier reporting to a government agency, and streamlined processes. See the video here.

Information on all 15 Discover Gallery projects can be found here.

Awards For Best Application of HMI/SCADA

Better Entry Into Industrial Software With Scalable MES

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) exists to help manufacturers manage the execution layer of a manufacturing enterprise. MES unfortunately can be quite complex. Moving a company from spreadsheet-driven execution to a specifically written application can take years of effort by a team of engineers.

Understandably that makes companies, especially medium sized ones, leery of even contemplating a move to the modern era.

Application developers, aware of this roadblock, have rushed to develop and deploy solutions that are easier to purchase and implement.

Enter Rockwell Automation’s latest entry into this arena. It has developed scalable and application-specific products to address this need. Solutions can start at the machine or work-area level with a single application and with minimal infrastructure requirements, and scale to an integrated MES solution as ROI is realized.

Rockwell Automation has released the following applications, with more to come in the future:

FactoryTalk Production Application – The FactoryTalk Production application addresses the challenges associated with enforcing processes in manufacturing. This application integrates with ERP, and tracks the order and recipe parameters necessary for production. The Production application supports end-to-end production management within a facility, offering a platform for continuous improvement.

FactoryTalk Quality Application – The newly expanded Quality application allows manufacturers to model and enforce their plant’s in-process quality regimens at a scalable rate. Manufacturers can use the Quality application on a project basis and scale up when value is proven. The application can be expanded to include other functionality within the FactoryTalk ProductionCentre MES system or run as a standalone.

FactoryTalk Performance Application – Performance is a modular application that assists manufacturing companies with factory efficiency and production improvement. By providing visibility into the operations performance, this application allows for lean and continuous improvement, preventive manufacturing, improved asset utilization and operational intelligence.

Each expanded MES application is implemented on thin clients for a modern user experience and reduced IT infrastructure cost. Users can add on each application to their current framework, helping protect their current investments while realizing these additional benefits.

Awards For Best Application of HMI/SCADA

The Demise of Layer 3-The Manufacturing Execution Layer of the Purdue Model

A friend of mine wrote an editorial recently where he predicted the imminent demise of Layer 3– manufacturing execution –of the Purdue Model of manufacturing technology. He hides behind a paywall these days, so I don’t think I can link. Funny thing is, he’s always been focused on the lower layers of technology. For him to try to create controversy here was, to say the least, surprising.

Perhaps a recap is in order at this point. The Purdue Model has withstood the test of time. It described technology and application layers 30 years ago that are still true. Technology is always fluid, but certain things just have to be done in a manufacturing or production enterprise.

Layers 0, 1, and 2 describe the instrumentation, control, and automation layers. Layer 3 describes what has been known as the MES–or execution–layer. Layer 2 describes the enterprise layer–known as the ERP layer.

My writing has focused at the lower layers for the past 18 years. I have some work on the MES and ERP application systems. Prior to 2014 my work was almost exclusively for controls and automation magazines. There remain no magazines devoted to Layer 3. No advertising or promotion dollars exist for that area–or at least not enough to fund that level of journalism. I thought I would focus on that as a one-person digital media site, but there’s just not enough money or news available there. The ERP level magazines have also mostly folded, but there remain huge sites that cover enterprise applications.

So back to the (non)controversy.

Some people have been predicting (hoping?) that connectors could be constructed such that real-time data can flow directly from production/manufacturing to the ERP layer effectively squashing layer 3.

But wait! All those functions performed at that level still need to be done–inventory, work-in-process, scheduling, laboratory integration, routing, and the like. Yes, ERP suppliers such as SAP, IBM, and Oracle wish that their products could absorb the functions of Layer 3 and therefore they could be a one-stop-shop for all manufacturing and enterprise IT functions.

Just as certainly the suppliers of today’s MES solutions–GE, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric (Wonderware, et. Al.), and Siemens (plus many more)–hope that that scenario won’t happen. Unless, I suppose, that they could sell their solutions to one of the big ERP suppliers.

The Real Manufacturing Execution Problem

The real problem at this level has little to do with technology or application. It’s the name. MES evolved from the earlier (think 70s) MRP and MRP II. Thanks to the stellar work of the ISA 95 committee, the term MOM has sprung up. And I read more about “operations management” than I do about “execution”.

Operations management holds a clue to the future. It is not all about the technology or the application any longer. It is all about business benefit–to the customer. New technologies such as the rise of importance of analytics and new visualization such as smart phone interfaces are changing the nature of Layer 3. There is still a Layer 3. It may not look like the Layer 3 I implemented in 1978. It may not look like the Layer 3 of five years ago. But the functions are still required, still being accomplished, and getting better all the time.

My friend sometimes tries more to be controversial than enlightening. Controversial gets page views (OK, so I pulled out an SEO headline myself). But I’d rather spark a conversation.