An experienced project team, glass industry expertise and a redundant system solution to ensure continuous plant operation were other factors that convinced Quinn Glass to choose Siemens and Simatic PCS 7 once again – a decision they have not regretted.
Quinn Glass commenced construction of the new state-of-the-art manufacturing plant at Ince, Cheshire, in September 2003. This brownfield development is one of only a handful of plants worldwide – and the only one in the UK – that manufacture and fill glass bottles at the same site. Furthermore, the 280 million pound sterling investment includes one of the largest automated warehouses in Europe, capable of storing 282,000 pallets of filled and unfilled bottles.
When Quinn Glass sought a supplier for the control systems, the first company it approached was Siemens, as Siemens had recently supplied the equipment for Quinn’s new plant in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, for an investment of this size, a first-class track record was not enough to secure selection, and Quinn duly considered other suppliers to ensure it was getting the best.
Plant availability a decisive aspect
In the end, Quinn decided to use Siemens again. The success of the County Fermanagh project, the dedicated team of Siemens engineers with knowledge and experience in the glass manufacturing industry, the Profibus compatibility, and the redundant architecture of the Siemens systems were ideal for this application with its requirement for exceptionally high plant availability.
As those responsible at Quinn Glass said, Siemens was an excellent supplier on the County Fermanagh project, with people who really understood glass production and technologies that enabled the tightly integrated control that Quinn needed. For the new Ince plant, the company knew it would be bringing in equipment from all around Europe – Germany and Italy in particular – where Profibus is widely employed, so Profibus compatibility was also an important issue in the selection of a control system supplier.
A key factor, however, was the redundant architecture. Because of the nature of the furnaces and associated equipment, glass manufacturing plants must operate continuously – 24/7/365. Plant availability is therefore paramount, as downtime can be extremely expensive in terms of potential irreparable damage to the plant. When Quinn Glass compared PCS 7 with alternative systems, it saw that the redundant architecture would provide a major advantage in terms of greater plant reliability. Consequently, this technological factor, coupled with the experience Siemens has in the glass industry, was decisive for the final choice to go with Siemens.
Another factor in the decision was that the control equipment supplier had to be able to engineer and support glass manufacturing control systems throughout the entire plant life cycle. Typical of glass manufacturing facilities, the Ince plant is planned to operate for 20 years or more, yet Quinn Glass’s engineers are confident Siemens will be fully capable of assisting them with any necessary maintenance and upgrading of the control system throughout the plant’s life.
Integrated solution for hot and cold end
The glass container manufacturing plant at Ince has 13 production lines, and the filling hall has five lines. In total, there are more than 7,500 I/O plus more than 10,000 drives and medium- and low-voltage equipment that are brought into the system via Profibus. The Simatic PCS 7 system easily handles this level of data.
In the County Fermanagh plant, Simatic PCS 7 controllers had been used at the hot end, but Quinn decided to make wider use of the PCS 7’s flexibility and employ it both in the hot end and the cold end of the new plant, making this installation an example of the horizontal integration enabled by Totally Integrated Automation. Indeed, the Ince plant takes the automation of glass manufacturing and bottle filling to a new level, thanks largely to the versatility and excellent visualization capabilities inherent in PCS 7.
Furthermore, the Simatic PCS 7’s redundant system architecture provides improved scope for future upgrades, as both hardware and software components can be altered without interrupting production. Also, it prevents the potential for causing damage to furnaces and associated equipment in the hot end, and it means that modifications can be made to the cold end without plant downtime.
Quinn Glass is very satisfied with the results of the project and is confident it made the right decision in choosing Siemens for the Ince plant. In particular, the company approved of the proactive approach of the Siemens project team, which demonstrates the depth and breadth of Siemens experience in this industry. In addition, because it is powerful, scalable and flexible, the PCS 7 has proved to be an excellent platform on which to base the automation systems.