Digital automation for better flexibility and improved quality

Paul Boughton

Throughout its history, Unilever/Lever has continually adapted its products and introduced technical innovations to meet changing washday needs. Since it was launched over 90 years ago, Persil has remained one of the UK’s favourite brands of washing powder.

Since the Persil brand participates in a high volume, consumer market, Lever Fabergé recognised the need to respond quickly to changes in technology and emerging market trends. For this reason, the company selected the latest Delta V digital automation technology from Emerson Process Management for use on the slurry, tower and raw materials areas of its Lever Fabergé plant in Warrington, UK. The new system replaces an outdated Premis Scada Modicon PLC system that was used to control the Persil product lines for the last 15 years.

The flexibility and adaptability of the new technology enables the company to quickly adjust the existing manufacturing processes or introduce new products as required.
Ian Pickett, project manager at Lever Fabergé, said: “The Warrington plant is undergoing a significant technological change, and the new DeltaV system will bring a huge number of benefits. These include improved quality of product and processes, reduced waste and rework, enhanced fault finding and configuration, improved reliability and better user interfaces for plant operators and technicians.”

Installation of the new system was straightforward and the project was split into phases to run concurrently with other engineering upgrades. The project was implemented using the Emerson Project Builder Library (PBL). This comprehensive library of standard modules and tools for DeltaV system users now includes modules from over 200 projects. By using modules available from the PBL, design and implementation time were significantly reduced.

The standard functional design (FDL) specification was used for all the PBL modules. Many of the control modules were generated from Excel based I/O spreadsheets and 80percent came from PBL with the remaining 20percent being custom written. The project required that some of the standard PBL graphics were customised to look like RS3 system graphics since the operators were familiar with these from other systems on the site.

Two recipes were written to allow maximum flexibility and Lever Fabergé used the Campaign Manager program part of the DeltaV batch system to run the process with the minimum number of operator interactions required. Campaign Manager software is an easy to use interface that creates, modifies, and executes entire campaigns of batch executions. It allows users to set up and start campaigns in minutes. Campaign history is automatically stored in DeltaV Batch Historian without any user configuration required.

Ian Pickett concluded: “We are delighted with the performance of the new DeltaV system, the changeover was smooth and detailed planning and input from the operators early in the design stage ensured that the conversion took place without any loss of production. The new batch reporting system is providing a wealth of valuable information and the advanced technologies allow the plant graphics to be accessed from any location using the site Intranet.”

Predictive software

Emerson has also just released version 4.0 of its AMS Suite: Equipment Performance Monitor that enables users to predict future performance of mechanical and process equipment. The new release adds Predictive Analyst capability that supports predictive and proactive maintenance strategies, leading to increased plant availability and performance, and reduced maintenance costs (Fig.1).  

Predictive Analyst analyses current performance of equipment as compared with original design, and then predicts how equipment will be operating in future months. The tool determines when degraded performance will occur, enabling users to plan maintenance activities well in advance.

Results are displayed both as the ‘time to warning’ and as a graphical representation so users can view the expected degradation curve, and values for any given period. In addition, PDF reports can be generated and emailed, including the configuration data and the generated results.

The Predictive Analyst in AMS Performance Monitor provides users with the ability to: predict asset performance for a specified operating period; predict the date(s) that asset performance will fall below specified values; and predict the number of operating hours before a warning status is triggered.

 “By using the Predictive Analyst capability, users can maximise the benefits of looking ahead and planning maintenance strategies to improve the availability of critical plant assets,” commented Craig Llewellyn, president of the company’s asset optimisation division. 

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