Grantek Solves Critical Issue and Updates OT Network, MES and Legacy Control System for Food Manufacturer

May 25, 2023

Grantek Case Study

A food manufacturer with a facility in Illinois that produces dry spice blends reached out to Grantek with a critical issue related to an outdated control system for their automated silo to mixing system, which was exposing them to risks of frequent downtime due to hardware failure and program obsolescence. The client was looking to mitigate these challenges and prepare for future advancements. With their extensive experience in SCADA, MES, and ERP integration, Grantek was the ideal candidate for the project. By replacing the old PLCs, SCADA, and network components with modern technology, Grantek aimed to enhance functionality, improve traceability, and enable future paperless operations for the client.

The first challenge Grantek faced was to design an operational technology (OT) network that would accommodate the plant’s expansion plans while ensuring robust security and compatibility with the existing IT management infrastructure. This required careful planning and integration to establish a network architecture that could support the increased demands of the facility while maintaining the necessary levels of data protection and operational efficiency. Grantek’s team worked closely with the client to understand their specific requirements and successfully delivered a scalable and secure OT network stack in a new temperature-controlled server closet.

The second challenge involved the design and implementation of a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) that seamlessly integrated with the client’s corporate existing system. Grantek needed to ensure smooth data exchange and transactional capabilities between the MES and the client’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. This integration was crucial for production as it delivered daily product orders to the plant floor. Grantek’s expertise in MES and ERP integration allowed them to deliver a comprehensive solution that effectively connected the manufacturing operations with the corporate system, optimizing data flow and facilitating streamlined operations.

The third challenge Grantek encountered involved migrating legacy hardware, specifically the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, to a new platform. During this migration, timing issues arose, particularly with the old serial scale, which resulted in incorrect dry weights. Grantek’s team tackled this challenge by conducting in-depth analysis and testing, identifying the source of the timing issues, and implementing new serial to ethernet converters to solve this issue. By leveraging their expertise in control systems, Grantek successfully resolved the timing issues, ensuring accurate measurements and reliable control of the manufacturing processes with existing equipment.

In conclusion, Grantek faced and overcame multiple challenges throughout the project. Grantek successfully designed a secure and scalable OT network, implemented an integrated MES system, and resolved timing issues with the control system during the migration of legacy hardware. These solutions effectively addressed the client’s pain points and improved their productivity, reliability, and profitability for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, Grantek’s comprehensive approach and successful outcomes make the implemented solution a potential consideration for other production lines or sites within the client’s overall enterprise. The project’s success resulted in significant cost and time savings for the client, and Grantek provided insights on additional cost and time savings possibilities for the client to realize even greater efficiencies in their operations.

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