From Rockwell® to Siemens: Making the Switch

A major soft drink maker reduced cost, complexity and downtime when it switched to Siemens PLC, HMI, drives and networking solutions.

The syrup room is the heart of a beverage manufacturer’s facility. Operational efficiencies and performance directly impact success, so changes to syrup room automation are performed with extreme caution.

When changes were needed, beverage manufacturers heavily relied on trusted manufacturers and suppliers for everything: procurement, maintenance, operations and training. In the United States, Rockwell Automation has historically dominated the beverage manufacturing market.

The large installed base fostered a domino effect. Systems integrators, aftermarket parts providers and support systems all focused on Rockwell technologies. Manufacturers’ internal technical resources became fluent in Rockwell hardware and software. Sales organizations built the perception that non-Rockwell solutions were more expensive.

Combined, these dynamics deterred U.S.-based beverage manufacturers from pursuing automation alternatives. But keeping pace with the beverage industry’s relentless competition requires modernization and continuous improvement, creating market openings.

Siemens decided to tap into this burgeoning market by focusing on a single U.S.-based manufacturer that was open to change. In one of its U.S. syrup rooms, the beverage manufacturer had a mature Rockwell Automation system that included a programmable logic controller, human machine interface, drive products and communication networks.

However, the aging system caused issues for plant productivity. Additionally, spare parts availability was poor and costly. The system needed to be replaced with modern components that would be supportable long term.

In 2014, when the beverage manufacturer was ready to replace its obsolete syrup room control system, Rockwell Automation and Siemens were each invited to submit proposals. The manufacturer’s local organization weighed the technology, costs and benefits, and awarded its mission critical project to Siemens.

Management looked beyond their focus on the existing supplier, opening the upgrade process with a question: would it modernize through its existing automation partner – or choose Siemens?

That was a difficult question. Moving from one syrup room automation provider to another exposed the manufacturer to extended downtime during conversion, as well as start-up issues after implementation. Given the manufacturer’s extensive requirements, the infrastructure design of the new syrup room automation platform would be extremely complex.

Existing automation hardware and communication networks had to be replaced in a minimal timeframe while minimizing risk. All programming code had to be written from scratch to result in one seamless program. Customized code had to be kept to a minimum. Hardwiring in cabinets was to be eliminated as much as possible. Syrup recipes were to be stored and used in smart panels.

Use of diagnostics was expected to reduce complexity, and remote connectivity was required for all networks and hardware. In addition, process reports were to be capable of printing and local electronic storage, and an on-site spare parts inventory, as well as technician training and support were required. There would be a need for local engineering and hardware support from a new provider due to the plant technicians’ inexperience with new systems.

The Siemens team convinced management that the company could support beverage manufacturer’s system needs in North America at costs that undercut Rockwell Automation systems. Siemens provided all automation and related services, including design, electrical/hardware/software installation, project management, program engineering and support, on-site commissioning support, an on-site spare parts inventory, technician training and no-cost technical support.

Risk was mitigated throughout the process. Hardware and programming were pre-tested with existing I/O before conversion. Hard wiring between control panels was eliminated, as were pneumatic block assemblies. Remote connectivity assisted in troubleshooting. On-site maintenance training quickly brought manufacturer technicians up to speed, and in-plant inventory was reduced with a standardized hardware approach to control costs.

Upgrades were performed in the syrup room’s control panels, the Ethernet communication network and the factory floor networks. New control panels included the main control panel, motor control panel, solenoid panel, three distributed I/O panels, sucrose receiving panel, common industrial protocol (CIP) panel, and the sucrose pump VFD panel.

The Results

Modernizing its U.S. syrup room automation by partnering with Siemens allowed the beverage manufacturer to install advanced, cost-efficient, scalable systems that accelerated growth and fortified the supply chain for the future. Siemens hardware cost 40 percent less than the Rockwell Automation solution. The project was completed ahead of schedule, providing the syrup room technicians with a fully functioning modern automation system that is scalable for several decades.

That’s partially because networking or PC/server-based hardware don’t require special IT knowledge. The platform provides seamless program logic, a redundant ring Ethernet communication network with transparent diagnostics, and micro memory back up. The segmented Ethernet network is combined into one flat communication network. The plant’s previous three monitoring systems were reduced to one visible system that is accessible in three locations. Technicians have secure remote access to the complete automation platform.

snlSeptBeverage3The platform is designed and engineered to improve, monitor and quickly diagnose manufacturing production processes. Deployed IT includes Siemens SIMATIC technologies and CPU, along with globally recognized SITOP power supplies, and fully integrated software, networking and Ethernet connectivity.

The SIMATIC ET 200SP delivers new generation distributed I/O that is simple to use, smaller in size and stronger in performance, engineered to scale the manufacturer’s automation, control production and maintenance costs, and minimize downtime.

The sophisticated SIMATIC HMI TP2200 Comfort Panel equips the manufacturer with a high-resolution widescreen touch and key control panel that is backed by high-end functionality for demanding HMI tasks. SIMATIC technologies integrate with Siemens Totally Integrated Automation components, including the TIA Portal, which provides the engineering framework for all planning, machine and process procedures.

The SIMATIC WinCC Smart Server permits remote control and monitoring of HMI systems via Ethernet, the Intranet and the Internet. WinCC software provides future-proof engineering software for programming all HMI devices within the TIA Portal. The complete platform is networked through a collection of Siemens SCALANCE Ethernet switches supporting extensive automation functions and high-speed redundancy, along with Cat 5 and Cat 6 Ethernet cables for error-free commissioning, and FastConnect Ethernet connectors for quick on-site installations and changes.

To read the full case study, click here.

For more information on modernizing with Siemens, click here.

For more information on Siemens Food & Beverage Solutions, click here.


Rockwell is a registered trademark that is owned by Rockwell Automation, Inc.

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