Automation Case Study: Singleton Birch

Posted on 10 Jan 2014 by The Manufacturer

A single-point information system for factory and automated processes has cut emergency call outs at lime manufacturer Singleton Birch by 95%.

What was implemented?

A Rockwell Automation solution was installed, which included:

• Allen-Bradley MicroLogix PACs

• Allen-Bradley ControlLogix PACs

• Allen-Bradley FactoryTalkn AssetCenter

What were the benefits?

• Callout hours reduced by 95%

• Problem resolution time reduce by 85%

• Greater visibility of all automation assets

• Single-point, on-site/remote access to information

• Comprehensive back-up solution and disaster recovery plan

• Greater plant availability

• Greater quality control due to less, unsanctioned operator intervention

Lincolnshire-based Singleton Birch supplies lime products to the steel, chemical processing, waste and building materials sectors among others. Key products include: quicklime, hydrated lime, natural hydraulic lime, graded chalk, aggregates and other specialist products and services.

The company is 200 years old and experiencing a period of outstanding growth with turnover doubling in 2012 and on a similar trajectory of 2013. But this success has not been achieved without challenges.

Singleton’s quarries are very large, and the size of its Melton Ross site, alongside scale of production potentially make control, data logging, asset management and the implementation of disaster recovery procedures unmanageable..

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Before its meeting with Rockwell Automation and implementation partner InControl Systems, Singleton Birch certainly found that this was the case and inefficiencies and quality issues were creeping into operations due to a fragmented technology infrastructure which was not properly secured and which did not support remote access or centralised data backup. A major issue was an escalating number of emergency call outs to fix equipment faults.

In an attempt to resolve these issues Singleton Birch called on Rockwell Automation and InControl Systems to develop a new site-wide infrastructure which could securely and centrally manage factory and automation processes.

Ken Hebdon, electrical engineer, maintenance and Projects, at Singleton Birch explains “I wanted a network that would let me talk to all the controllers and associated hardware from my computer in the engineering block; and I wanted to make this information available to all the electrical and mechanical engineers on site.”

To achieve this goal, InControl Systems set about establishing a foundation Ethernet network which pulled together all of the existing SLC, PLC and SCADA technology on site.

From a software perspective InControl Systems recommended the installation of FactoryTalk AssetCenter from Rockwell Automation. This software provides asset-centric tools to give the control and management that Singleton Birch was seeking. The technology secures access to control systems and tracks user actions, managing asset configuration files, configuring process instruments and providing backup and recovery of operating asset configurations.

Mr Hebdon is pleased with the results of the technology infrastructure change. “Using FactoryTalk AssetCenter I can access the network remotely and issues or required code changes are resolved much quicker,” he says.

“We also have a total audit trail now, which documents the date, the time and the person making the changes – all overseen by a permissions-based system, which I have control over.”

Singleton Birch also has a backup facility, which allows it to backup all the PAC and SLC PLC code automatically.

“The solution was up and running very quickly,” Hebdon elaborates, “and disaster recovery is now a lot easier.”