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SEP-OCT 2018

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INTECH SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018 19 PROCESS AUTOMATION l establish and document baselines to measure future process improvement Digitization and standardization beget improvements, because performance can now be viewed, tracked, compared, and optimized. As the old saying goes, nothing can be improved until it is mea- sured, and this is as true for manufactur- ers as it is for other businesses. With digitizing and standardizing, manufacturers manage governance of each point solution centrally, with re - mote deployment and support of local software solutions. The result is continu - ous improvement of processes based on rich data collection. To illustrate how this model-based approach works in prac - tice, let's look at an application example. Material receiving and tracking Many plants and facilities receive raw materials via truck (figure 5), as with this example where a food plant receives vegetable oil for use in its baking opera - tions. As with many plant processes, this one can be digitized, standardized, and improved. The first step is to notify appropriate personnel when a truck arrives. A sam- ple of the vegetable oil is then taken and sent to the on-site lab for analysis and recording of results. If the sample fails, the truck is sent away. If the sam- ple passes, the operator connects the truck to a nearby tank and starts the pumping process. If the tank fills before the truck is empty, the op erator must disconnect the truck from the first tank and hook it up to a second tank. This process is repeated until the truck is empty. Although seemingly simple, there are many ways this process can go wrong if the proper steps are not taken in the right sequence. There are also numer- ous opportunities to digitize, standard- ize, and improve upon the process. When the truck arrives, the operator should ask the driver how long he or she has been waiting. This data should be digitized by entering it into the appro- priate software platform, perhaps us- ing a handheld tablet. The waiting time can be tracked, recorded, and improved upon if it is excessive, perhaps by using a sensor to indicate truck arrival and sending this information to plant per- sonnel via a mo- bile alert. The times when personnel take a sample, send it to the lab, and re- ceive results are also measured as part of the digitali- zation. This shows how long it takes the lab to turn the sample around and can also indi- cate when escala- tion to a super- visor is required because the lab is behind. These types of indicators are all apparent in the data, allow- ing for continuous improvement in this collaborative process. There are many ways to deter- mine when a tank is full or a truck is empty, and v arious plants across the enterprise do things differently. For example, one plant may measure tank level by weight, while another may use a continuous liq - uid level instrument. Once all the steps are digitized, a stan- dard procedure for unloading vegetable oil from trucks to tanks can be created. This procedure can be adjusted as re- quired to describe unloading of all types of liquids from trucks to tanks through- out the plant and across the enterprise. During the standardization step, areas for improvement will be revealed as dif- ferent truck unloading events are com- pared within a plant or across multiple plants within a company. For example, the time taken to sample product in a lab may be excessive across all plants, leading to implementation of an online analyzer to provide near real-time results at the unloading station. Level measure- ment by weight at a few plants might be found to be lacking due to changes in product density, so all plants within a Figure 5. Truck unloading liquid to a tank. Digitizing the unloading of liquids from trucks to tanks can help plants and facilities standardize and im- prove operations.

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