Increase Yield and Reduce Wastage with OAL Connected

OAL has helped one of the UK’s largest fresh salad operators reduce wastage and increase the efficiency of their packaging line with Autocoding an automated label and date code verification system and a legacy SCADA system.

Challenge

The site was investing in new leaf washing, mixing and drying lines due to the age of existing equipment and a drive for improved line efficiency. As part of the investment, the site had a requirement to update the existing automation, with a keen focus to improve efficiency and flexibility to suit the vast selection consumers now demand.

After reviewing suppliers, the customer chose OAL due to positive word of mouth recommendations from sister sites who have experienced first-hand working with OAL on similar projects and the difference it can make to their production line efficiency.

Solution

A key part of OAL’s solution was to focus on the operator. Previously, twelve operators worked together to feed one weigh station, where the only feedback on giveaway was a single beacon. By installing a load cell, barcode reader and touch screen to every operator’s preparation station, feedback and reporting can be customised to individual requirements.

OAL’s SCADA system provides supervisory control of preparation stations covering recipe and scheduling. The OAL solution included the following highlights to ensure operational engagement, yield improvements and quality control.

Visibility

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To drive operator engagement and yield improvements, the OAL Connected solution takes a proactive approach to increasing visibility. For operators, they now have all the information they need on a screen in front of them and get constant feedback as to productivity and yield.

For management, this means full visibility of performance, who is the most productive and who performs the best for giveaway. With this information in real-time, they can now work on the shop-floor to drive improvements. Large screen TV’s have been placed on the line to show everyone’s performance, driving a performance-led culture.

Reports are web based so that they can be accessed anywhere within the company's Intranet. All sites can view other sites performances and the reports are updated directly from SCADA. This allows for effective real time comparisons across the country without direct contact.

Virtualised SCADA

The OAL solution has used a virtual SCADA system over the more traditional server installed systems seen in food factories. A key benefit of virtualisation is the ability to reduce downtime because of the real-time backup of data. Furthermore, virtualised systems require less maintenance and have a lower cost of ownership. Combining the virtualised SCADA with Terminal Services based client’s results in an extremely robust infrastructure.

Terminal services based Thin clients reside predominantly on the back of the plant monitors. They provide a remote desktop connection onto the SCADA. The main advantage of this is that a client is not tied to one location, and it is interchangeable. If a client breaks, it can simply be removed and replaced with a spare.

Another advantage is a saving in cost, not only in hardware but in software as well. Due to the SCADA software being server side, licensing costs are reduced. In traditional SCADA architecture, each machine would need a software license. With the new client architecture, a license is needed for each server (two in this case), and then special ‘client’ licenses for each thin client. The thin client licenses are significantly cheaper than standard licenses, reducing cost.

Security is also improved as the servers are the single point of contact to the outside world. This means that only the servers need protecting.

Result

The new OAL vegetable preparation station automation has provided the customer with the visibility and tools to improve yield and efficiency. The project was completed on schedule with the site delighted with the new visibility of the preparation system. Since installation, the site has already begun to see the benefits that include:

● A reduction in yield losses due to enhanced visibility of the vegetable preparation.

● Reduced downtime leading to an increase in production.

● An increase in productivity and quality as a result of automated quality control checks and improved planning and decision making.

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