was reduced as well. Slag oftentimes finds
its way into landfills.
Profit: In terms of the triple bottom
line, profit was most notably increased.
The first installation saved the operator
$2.4 million in fuel alone in little more
than the first year’s operation. When
considering a multi-plant operation, this
can seriously add to the overall financial
well-being of the company.
Our second case study is found at a large
pulp and paper company. The task given
to the system integrator was to complete
a large paper machine project. This client had antiquated drives and controllers, making them expensive to repair
and maintain. Their system contained
obsolete controllers which were not supported by the manufacturer any longer.
Maintaining the code for these old controllers was also problematic.
The system integrator provided a new
machine control system and programming
that reliably replicated the functions of
the old control system. They also changed
out the antiquated drive technologies for
a modern one. The connection to the system was upgraded from an old Modbus
system to a more reliable and robust
People: The maintenance personnel
now have a safe and reliable system that
is far less prone to failures. The new system allows the plant engineers to easily
reference the logic and make changes or
troubleshoot. This reduces the stress level
Planet: By reducing the occurrences
of downtime, resources are conserved.
Whether the plant is producing or not,
water, steam, fuel and electricity are being
used. These resources have their own environmental impact that is mitigated when
the entire plant is running correctly.
Profit: An unexpected outage at a
facility can cost tens of thousands to more
than a million dollars per day, depending on the product. Removing this costly
downtime eliminates direct costs to products. Controller boards and I/O modules
for supported hardware are generally less
expensive than parts that have reached
their obsolescence. Companies pay a premium for these parts to stay in business.
The engineering costs associated with
changes or modifications to newer software is reduced because newer software
products are simply more user friendly.
In our final case study, the systems integrator was approached by a plant that
had a problem most operations managers
wish they had, but may be the most difficult to solve. This particular customer is
a producer of resin materials for aircraft
bodies. The problem was the plant had
orders well beyond their production
capacity. They were in danger of losing
orders and, worse, had the threat of liquidated damages if they did not produce.
The systems integrator and the customer identified the bottlenecks in the
system: leachers. The reactors providing
the feed and the dryers which received
the product had ample capacity; the areas
for improvement were not so obvious. An
additional reactor was added at the front
end, and an additional dryer was added
to the back. To enhance this further, a
new solvent recovery system was added.
People: By recovering their solvents,
the plant becomes socially responsible
because resources are conserved. The
plant personnel also became benefactors of a new control system where it
is easier to accommodate changes and
Planet: The solvent recovery system is
the most obvious return on the environmental investment. Most solvents are considered extremely hazardous wastes and
can effect water and air quality.
Profit: Capacity is not yet an issue with
the plant. They are able to produce all
that is sold and business managers can
now plan to take up this excess capacity
by accommodating new clients.
Today’s companies must always think
in terms of the TBL in order to maintain a
profitable, as well as socially and environmentally responsible company. While this
article takes a hindsight look at projects,
managers must take a forward view in
Select a knowledgeable system integrator with the right experience in your
field. Make sure they are willing to think
outside the box to come up with innovative solutions to your unique problems in
your manufacturing environment. While
systems integration isn’t a cure-all for a
company’s TBL woes, it is a positive step
in the right direction.
Mark Adair, CAP, is an automation
solution integrator at Avid Solutions,
Inc. He has served clients in a
variety of industries for more than
20 years as an engineer. For more
information about Avid Solutions,
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