Project

EN Helps Customer Optimize Operations After Losing Skilled Resources

PROJECT

Automation Solutions for Manufacturing Customer

Background

A common challenge for manufacturers includes lacking expert resources to perform skilled roles. In this case, an industrial manufacturing customer lost both of their controls engineers on staff when they pursued opportunities that became available during the influx of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The loss of essential resources created a skills gap that threatened operational success and left the customer with a major dilemma. The control system in their facility was critical to the process and they had just lost the only people with programming insight and experience with the hardware and software platform. The machinery could be operated, but not to the capacity for which it was designed which left the plant operating under less-than-optimal conditions.

Challenges

EN began by establishing a remote support protocol to help the customer minimize downtime, while backing up the customer’s systems and conducting a plant assessment to thoroughly evaluate the existing hardware and software. Once the plant evaluation was complete, it was recognized that the hardware was selected properly for the system requirements.

The code was reviewed, and it was determined that many programming gaps were causing process inefficiencies, including errors when running in certain operating modes. Production had been suffering ongoing issues because of coding missteps that led to operators bypassing automatic modes that were intended to maximize throughput. Communication and alarm systems had not been correctly established, and troubleshooting consisted of ignoring faults to keep the line running.

Solutions

Once the primary problems were identified, the solution strategy was broken down into smaller tasks and approached in phases to minimize production downtime. EN helped the customer develop a roadmap to prioritize project steps according to a risk-based assessment. This also allowed adequate time and attention be given to explaining the misunderstood system to the customer throughout the process.

EN engineers made modifications to the wireless hardware configuration and the code was edited to correct errors and allow the system to run in various operating modes as intended. Programming changes were also made to break the code down into easier to manage tasks for streamlined troubleshooting. Additional alarms were incorporated, as well as adding parameters to maintenance screens for better operator usability. Once production was consistently running smoothly with the updates, the system was modified to increase efficiency and throughput. The final phase included training the plant personnel on the platform and system specifics.

KEY RESULTS

The customer faced production challenges and ongoing operational concerns after losing key skilled resources. The support from an expert systems integrator helped reassure the customer and instilled confidence in their control system capabilities. EN not only helped the customer capitalize on the value of their investment through system optimization, training, and ongoing support but also provided the security they needed to get the most out of current and future operations. As only one part of a multi-site company, the success of the solution provides more opportunities for systems integration for many potential projects.

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