A production capacity of over 3000 tons packaging glass is achieved per day in 7 glass plants with a total of 17 melting furnaces.
In order to consolidate and develop their market position continuously the enterprise places emphasis on constant modernization of the production lines, and to increase their success by optimal utilisation of resources and plants. Energy and time savings are only possible with a process control management that is perfectly attuned and easy to handle.
Zippe Industrieanlagen has received the order to renew the system of the batch plant (PCS7, version 8.0 with APL), that has only been installed in 2008, and to make it safe and operational.
The company ZIPPE as supplier for batch and raw material conditioning plants for the glass industry has been offering their customers all-round solutions since their start (1920). They consist not only of engineering ever since, delivery of the mechanical components and assembly of the plant, but also the entire control and automation.
With the construction of many hundred batch plant controls, automation concepts based on a very extensive procedural know-how have been developed over the course of time which today offer solutions for all kinds of glass batch plants.
Thereby, it has always been ZIPPE's philosophy to cover the entire value-added chain with own local personnel, i. e. planning, control software, control technology with the network lay-out, electrical cabinet construction, commissioning and service.
Today approximately 50 engineers, technicians and electrically skilled persons are employed in the field of control construction. This team has realised automation solutions with many different control systems over the past years.
Always bearing in mind the state-of-the-art systems. User-friendly operability of the plant is the focus all the time. Continuous development and amendments, like for example lately the TSC module (Tablet Smartphone Control) for balance calibration via tablet or smartphone allow the access to all information of the batch plant while the operator moves freely through the plant.
Shortly after the introduction of the PWA system PCS7 to the market the first batch plant control was executed this way already in 1997. Since then, ZIPPE has delivered and commissioned more than 20 batch plants with PCS7. All of them run to the customers' full satisfaction.
Mr. Mennig, you are responsible for the division furnaces and batch conditioning at Vetropack S.A. in St. Prex, Switzerland. When you took over this position, you found a PWA system of the latest generation, in which are also integrated not only the furnace control and feeders, but also the batch house, the cullet return and the compressor plant. The complete solution corresponds to the classic concept of a plant wide automation solution. A redundant server pair, terminal and field bus, both executed as LWL ring, is set up for highest disposability.
Mr. Mennig, why did you nonetheless decide to renew the automation after such a short period of time?
“Two reasons were determinant for this which are also linked to each other.
Firstly, with Zippe Industrieanlagen GmbH we have realized a concept for the batch house control with an own process control, weighing computers and a supporting hardware manual level as redundant emergency control, which fully respects our requirements and our internal workflows.
Up to now our problem was the fact that our demands on the process control software and visualization were by far not satisfied. The batch house and the furnace must not run on only one server pair.
Apart from the generally unsatisfying programming performance which led again and again to system break downs and disruptions in production, the central function of a batch house control, the recipe handling, is above all not operational.
Furthermore, the supplier of the automation software integrated scripts and tools which don’t correspond to PCS7 standards. That is why an upgrade of this system to a higher version is practically impossible.
The second reason was that due to implementing this server concept, i. e. unite all production areas in a redundant server pair, those problems were unfortunately not limited to the batch house but also influence the entire production chain in an unpredictable way and thus a trouble-free production was not possible.
Besides, we always needed help from a specialist and an electrician of the company in charge when there was a problem. There was no remote control or diagnosis. I simply wanted to be master of the situation, wanted to have an automatical batch calculation and a simple operability. Practice is the basis for everything.”
Mr. Mennig, why did you charge company ZIPPE with this order and not the original supplier of this system?
“In the end it was a question of trust. It is always a big challenge to transform something existing. We had high expectations and did not want to run the risk again after the experiences we have made.
ZIPPE Industrieanlagen had already upgraded the batch house controls of several of our plants (Vetropack Gostomel, Nemsova and Kremsmuenster) with PCS7. All of those orders have been executed on schedule and to our full satisfaction. We knew that Zippe Industrieanlagen as Siemens PCS7 solution partner was capable to execute the PWA concept without reservation. Moreover, only Zippe Industrieanlagen could upgrade the installed weighing computers to the latest version of a multi component dosing computer. This means that the balances are now fully functional even if the automation system breaks down.”
Mr. Mennig, company Zippe pointed out right from the beginning that they only would accept the order if Vetropack agreed to extend the network by a redundant server pair for the batch plant. Didn’t you have trouble to put through the extra costs in front of the corporate management?
“Of course, extra costs without additional benefit can hardly respectively can not be become accepted at all. However, Zippe had such good arguments for the presented concept that finally even the corporate management was convinced.”
What exactly was so convincing about this concept, that you got the green light?
„Well, first of all it was the safeguarding of a maximum disposability not only of the batch house plant, but of the entire PWA network. The additional server pair allows a safe and unlimited automatic operation of the batch plant, independently from all the other production areas. The same applies of course vice versa. If a software update is installed in the batch house, the other production areas are not affected. Only when the work in there is completed, the integration into the PWA is made.
Isn’t this generally a contradiction to the PWA philosophy?
„No, in reality it is a completion and it was very important for us that this concept of total integration continues to be valid without limits. The batch house can be operated totally independent in case of emergency, in normal operation though it is an integral part of the PWA.”
About the transformation itself: How did it work, were there delays or production downtimes during the transformation? Our software specialist compares this to a “heart transplantation”.
„You have to consider that one hour of downtime costs several thousand Euros, only the loss of production. Of course it is necessary to avoid it.
However, the original doubts of the staff with regard to another transformation were totally unfounded, everything went smoothly. Apart from one bucket full of cullet which had to be disposed of there were no additional works to do. Today we are totally at the cutting edge of technology with the Zippe system, the operability is very good and easy to understand. The upgrade was a success for everybody involved.”
How did the staff get along with the operation of the plant after the transformation? Was a lot of training necessary for the operators?
„It went very fast. The system is self-explaining and can be operated intuitively. The operators are stoked about the operating comfort. The communication between Zippe and the staff was perfect, all texts were in French and articulate, and there was always a contact person available.”
How did the transformation influence the performance of the batch plant with regard to tonnage, plant cycle, … ?
„In former times the operation time was 19 h/day, now we have 14h/day, tops, despite nine minutes waiting time between the loads – an exact evaluation is pending. That is a very positive balance!”
Do you have figures about how the upgrade of the automation software affected the run-time of the plant and thus the energy costs of the batch house?
„Due to the shorter run-time of the plant per day the energy costs have been decreasing. Also the maintenance intervals of particular aggregates could be extended which also reduces the maintenance costs.
With integrated software modules the new system helps us recognize necessary maintenance and to plan them. Surprising break downs of single aggregates are thus reduced for sure. The production runs more steadily and we expect also a quality improvement of our products from this fact.”
How satisfied are you with the After-Sales-Service of company Zippe?
„The offering of a Zippe service contract with a 24h on-call duty and the possibility of remote maintenance via internet VPN convinced us right from the beginning. It makes us feel safe.“
How is company Zippe seen in the enterprise Vetropack with regard to future projects?
„My personal long-term experience with ZIPPE Industrieanlagen is very good, also due to the latest, very successful commissioning of the new system and the positive resonance, also from the other plants in which Zippe has already been working, we will work together again with Zippe in the future with pleasure.“
Mr. Mennig, thank you very much for the conversation and the good cooperation.