Control de procesos y automatización industrial

Success case: Conde de Benalúa, pioneer of the «Almazara Conectada 4.0»

21 Outubro, 2020

Thanks to the PlantPAx distributed control system by Rockwell Automation, the company has improved the availability, efficiency, integration and production of its oil production facility. The web Big Data Magazine reported the case of Conde Benalúa, the pioneer of ‘Almazara Conectada 4.0’, created by ANSOTEC.

The facilities of the San Sebastián – Conde de Benalúa cooperative, a company founded in 1954, are located in Benalúa de las Villas. Today, it has around 1,500 members and produces and sells olive oil using brands such as Amarga y Pica, Conde de Benalúa and Olivar del Sur.
This company is able to produce the volume it does because it has its own oil production facility, divided into three areas. There is a reception area, where the growers take their olives to be cleaned and put into hoppers. Then there is an extraction area where these olives are made into oil. Then there is a storage area when the final product is kept until it can be delivered to the members of the cooperative.

Information silos

To manage these three areas, the facility had an automation system that was based on control islands, all developed using proprietary tools belonging to companies in the sector who sold specific solutions for the automation of oil production plants. The problem is that they are “isolated systems that are not fully integrated, nor are they designed to offer high availability or security when faced with micro-electricity outages” explained Marisa García, head of production at the Conde de Benalúa plant. “This meant that we had costly stoppages in production and breakdowns in the machinery”.

The company was forced to look for other, more robust types of technological solutions. “That is why we decided to contact proven companies with experience in other sectors, maybe ones which are more advanced technologically than the oil industry, which have open standardised technologies that can help us to improve production control in our facilities”, García said.

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After looking around for an integrator, they settled on Ansotec, a company founded by Luis Alberto Guzmán in 2007. Ansotec specializes in the implementation of digital transformation solutions for industry, including all types of automation and control processes, mainly for the food, chemicals and pharmacosmetic sectors.

Study and implementation

Ansotec’s first decision, according to Guzmán, was “to start a study for the digitalization of the plant that proposed the completion of the project in two phases”. This was confirmed by García, at Conde de Benalúa. “We began by working with Ansotec on an audit of our systems and the design of an automation and digitalization plan that would allow us to complete the full digitalization of our installations in two or three years”, she said. To achieve this, Ansotec recommended to Conde de Benalúa that the whole process should be based on the automation equipment, systems and technology of Rockwell Automation, for whom they were certified integrators.

The first phase therefore involved the automation of the extraction area, where the olives are converted into oil. The visualization platform ThinManager and the PlantPAx Distributed Control System (DCS) were introduced here to ensure the correct management of the core of the plant activity. A number of previous developments were required to ensure that production was integrated with the ERP systems of Microsoft (Dynamics NAV) that the company was already using.

The second phase saw the extension of the ThinManager platform to the rest of the plant, and the implementation of the PlantPAx system in the other areas of the facility (the patio areas where the olives were received and the storage area). The production management solution created by Ansotec, known as “Almazara Conectada 4.0” was implemented in parallel at the same time, to control all the plant management processes. It was also used to integrate the different types of devices using Ethernet/IP networks, such as tablets, smartphones, RFID readers and video cameras.

This “Almazara Conectada 4.0” makes it possible to “integrate all the data” Guzmán said. “With this tool, we can implement all the devices and equipment that we want to, based on the standards of recognised manufacturers like Rockwell Automation. This enables us to capture and store all the information, which can be displayed and presented in various ways for later analysis”.

It was precisely to manage all this information that Ansotec provided the company with a series of dashboards based on Business Intelligence. “The visualization of data makes it easier to monitor the production process (machines that are stopped, which ones are working, how many kilos are processed per shift, etc.). This enables us to observe all our measurements at the same time and helps the management to take the best decisions about their business”, Guzmán claims. He is backed up by García, at Conde de Benalúa: “By integrating all the data generated in the control system, we can ensure access to information in real time and control of production and the business. All this is possible with a user-friendly system that our personnel have no problems to learn to use.

Advantages of implementation

These are not the only benefits that Conde de Benalúa has obtained from the digitalization of the oil production plant “The solution that Ansotec implemented enabled us to improve the general availability of our facilities and eliminate the bottlenecks in our installations. It means that we can increase production and the efficiency of our machines”, García affirms.

As part of the same process, the oil producer eliminated the control islands so that the whole plant runs on an integrated system within a unified environment that controls the processes and manages the production. In parallel, adds García, “there are far fewer plant stoppages and we now have a tracking system with alarms so that we can analyse our production records. We also have an infrastructure that makes it possible to have a remote support system 24/7 with our partner Ansotec during the olive harvest campaign to ensure that our facilities can operate continuously”.

From the point of view of management, the company can also rely on data and production reports drawn from the web or mobile apps that have access to the production supervision dashboards, and “full integration of the operations, from our laboratories, reception of the olives, the extraction area, to the storage area, which is all synchronized in real time with our ERP system”, says García.

In short, as Guzmán, of Ansotec points out: “What all this system provides is robustness, especially in a sector like olive oil production where companies normally rely on partial, not integrated solutions”. He also adds that “it means that they can increase their output capacity without having to invest in new production lines or information for management to be able to take decisions”.

All in all, Conde de Benalúa are optimistic about what this implementation will mean for the future of their business. “We feel that the investment we have made will enable our brands to continue to grow, because we can rely on the technology of manufacturers like Rockwell Automation, which will make it easier to grow in a sector where there is increasing cost pressure, a need to improve quality and many more regulations to take into account”, says García.

But it is not only our suppliers who are benefiting from the increased efficiency of our information and lower processing costs obtained from the “Almazara Conectada 4.0” solution. It is also good for the rest of the sector, because the rest of the industry has shown a lot of interest in the project, which, as Guzmán says, “positions the company at the forefront of digital transformation in the edible oil sector”.

Source: bigdatamagazine

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