“After getting the report requirements of all stakeholders, a Proof of Concept was conducted and the best candidate for the job turned out to be Flow Software,” says Kreesan Coopasamy, Automation Engineer at Woodlands Dairy. “Flow integrated seamlessly with our existing Wonderware-based infrastructure with its ArchestrA-like plant model. Its capability of aggregating measurements over any time period, provision for manual data entry, versatile report templates and ability to address all our other requirements made it the obvious choice.”
Flow is designed for easy access to multiple data sources, collation and aggregation of that data and the reporting of cross-referenced information to provide informed decision support at all levels of the organization. “It certainly delivered what it said on the tin because it took us under two months to go live with the required reports and two weeks to verify that the information could be released to all users,” says Coopasamy. On completion of the project, the Flow server was handed over to the IT manager to ensure secure operation within the Woodlands Dairy IT network infrastructure.”
The reports started giving the Woodlands production team the decision-support information they needed the minute they were released. The all-important opening stock report, for example, e-mailed at 06:00 every morning, provided an accurate view of the previous day’s stockholding as well as the current supply situation which allowed production runs to be planned accordingly. “In this business, production runs change on a daily basis and according to the yield of the cows that morning,” explains Coopasamy. “That’s why we need accurate, real-time information so that not only the milk, but the powder, butter and cheese lines can also be optimized.”
Another report of importance was that of water usage, especially about the drought and water shortage in the Eastern Cape at the time. Through automated meter readings as well as some manual entries, water usage limits could be specified in the various areas of the plant and the reports highlighted anomalies such as excessive consumption or leaks. “With Flow, any authorized user throughout the plant can have access to the system and update readings accordingly.”
CIP station reports show the usage of CIP processing equipment and pipelines as well as water, caustic, and acid consumption. This, together with the frequency that each of the three CIP lines is used and for how long, gives Woodlands the information and control they need to ensure that the lines are operated as efficiently as possible. The utilization / usage reports apply to the entire process site and include water, steam, acid, caustic, and electricity. This allows Woodlands to accurately determine the ratio of product delivered to resources used and thereby detect production anomalies on any time scale.
All reports and dashboards are sent by e-mail and dashboards can be displayed on large screens throughout the plant to keep everyone informed and to provide feedback on their contribution. “The ability to aggregate reports is very useful,” says Coopasamy. “The operations manager will be interested in a weekly or monthly report while shift supervisors need daily reports to allow them to become more proactive in making sure that we reach our targets.”
“I cannot express the ease with which Flow can be implemented, configured and used as well as the aggregated, time based information value it delivers from a multitude of sources.” Kreesan Coopasamy, Automation Engineer @ Woodlands Dairy
This project focused on water supply management for the small town of Merweville in the Karoo, South Africa. While the town's population is small, with less than 2000 people living there, there is an ongoing drought here, and deficits in water supply monitoring and management hampered the water supply to residents and farmers in the area. Flow Software and INTEG System Integrators had an innovative solution.
CCBA needed a solution to automatically capture and account for downtime, speed losses, and production numbers on all their filling lines. In addition, they required trustworthy information to support confident, timely, and accurate decision-making.
The main challenge facing the production team was the lack of timely decision making and protracted delays in picking up production glitches which impacted on-the-go decision making.