Where iron workers once worked in conditions of intense heat, today, this producer’s 150+ highly trained operators are engaged in the sugar production process as machine operators, process operators, service engineers and laboratory workers.
The management team for this sugar producer needed an alternative for its dated SattLine automation control system. There were several reasons to upgrade, including the need to efficiently monitor the production lines to manufacture their high degree of quality, innovative products.
However, they had heavily invested in their SattLine control system which contained nearly 20 years of production code. They had no interest in discarding this investment and starting over. So, they decided to build on their strong distributed control system (DCS) foundation. They searched for a solution that would migrate their existing code and protect their investment. Another desired feature was batch functionality.
Driving forces for change
- Increase productivity and availability
- Simplify process changes
- Modernize the operator environment
- Introduce Batch Management
However, producers do not move quickly to make a decision of this magnitude; the final decision was preceded by three years of discussions, analysis and specification reviews.
After weighing all the technical aspects of their current control system, as well as the future requirements and demands on production, they chose to upgrade their SattLine system with ABB’s AbilityTM System 800xA. With ABB’s SattLine evolution concept and the SattLine Conversion Tool, about 85 percent of the SattLine DCS controller application was automatically converted to System 800xA controller code.
Once the contract was awarded, the conversion planning began. The driving factor in the planning process was the requirement to provide just-in-time supplies to its customers. Some of their customers buy dry sugar products and have a surplus on hand, but many customers prefer ready-made sugar solutions and have their "stock" in logistics, then in tankers. It is an on-demand system on which these customers rely; a stoppage would create a logistical nightmare.