Mennig, plant-wide automation was introduced in your plant in 2008. Why is an update needed so soon?
Werner Mennig: The batch house provides a good example of why we needed an update. Before we commissioned Zippe and UAS, the software for visualization and process control was far from able to meet our needs. In our view, the batch house and furnace should not run on the one server pair. In the end, the existing programming complicated matters. Plus recipe handling - a central function in batch house control – was simply not workable. Scripts and tools also did not meet PCS 7 standards, so it was practically impossible to upgrade the system.
Volker Scheurich (left), Software Engineer at Zippe, shows Werner Mennig from Vetropack the new options for plant operation with PCS 7. (Photo: Vetropack)
How was this difficulty resolved?
Mennig: Zippe developed an optimized concept for batch house control with its own process control, weighing computers, and a supporting hardware manual level as a redundant emergency control.
Were there any other glitches before this upgrade?
Mennig: Under the old server concept our problems were unfortunately not limited to the batch house, but in fact concerned the entire production process.
What made you choose Zippe for upgrading the batch area?
Mennig: It was a question of trust. Zippe had already upgraded the batch house control in our Gostomel, Nemsova and Kremsmünster plants to Simatic PCS 7 – and we were thoroughly satisfied with the results. As a Siemens Solution Partner, Zippe has what it takes to provide an automation solution that fits perfectly into a plant-wide automation concept. Moreover, only Zippe had the ability to upgrade the installed weighing computers to the latest version of a multi-component dosing computer.
How do you feel the overhaul went in the end?
Mennig: Just a single hour of downtime costs the plant several thousand euros from loss of production. So I am pleased that everything went so smoothly, and with no interruptions.
What do the operators think about the new solution?
Mennig: The new system is self-explanatory and can be operated intuitively. The operators are delighted with the user-friendliness. Communication between Zippe and the staff was perfect; all texts were in French and easy to understand, and there was always a contact person available.
How has the upgrade affected the batch plant in terms of cycle time and energy costs?
Mennig: Previously, the cycle time was 19 hours per day; now it is down to 14 hours at most. That is a very positive outcome. The shorter cycle time in the batch house has resulted in lower energy costs. In addition, maintenance intervals for individual aggregates have been extended, which provides further cost savings. With its integrated software modules, the new system helps us to detect any preventative maintenance required and to plan ahead. This enables us to reduce the risk of unexpected downtime in individual aggregates. Production is therefore more robust, and we expect to see an improvement in the quality of our products.
Do you have any last comments for GlassFocus readers?
Mennig: I have outlined how the upgrade helped improve operations in the batch house. However, I must also express our gratitude to Zippe and UAS as general contractor for overhauling the existing PCS 7 concept not only in the batch house, but also for the melting furnace and the ancillary components. The team also provided impressive service in converting the firing system from heavy oil to natural gas in line with the latest standards, including new feeder control.