New control system helps lubricant company save and improve

Posted on 20 Feb 2012

Fuchs Lubricants, the UK subsidiary of Fuchs Petrolub AG, the world’s largest independent lubricant company, has achieved high plant availability, reduced cycle times and waste and cost savings after adding a new solution to its control system mix. 

The company’s Stoke-on-Trent facility, responsible for the production of approximately 10% of UK lubricant demand, manufactures over 500 complex lubricant formulations ranging from engine oils to metal working fluids and medicinal products such as petroleum jelly.

With increasing demand for Fuchs’ products driving production, the role of the incumbent process control system at Stoke was scrutinised. The management at the site decided to migrate to Siemens’ PCS 7 with SIMATIC Batch as the distributed control system (DCS) of choice that they expect could help future proof production on site and support a desire for enhanced operational efficiencies.

Steve Hallam, engineering manager for Fuchs, comments: “We are achieving a significant first time pass rate for the finished products which has increased from 85% to 97%. In addition, our knowledge of the process is now far more in-depth, as the data we can extract from the control system informs us exactly of the type of key and highly accurate information we require to ensure product consistency and drive improvements to our efficiencies. This allows us to plan our production scheduling far more accurately, as well as driving flexibility.”

The decision to move to PCS 7 was based on the confidence gained through an earlier trial undertaken at the site. Prior to addressing the entire control system, Fuchs had teamed up with Siemens to install PCS 7 on its medicinal-based petroleum jelly production line. The subsequent success and enhanced performance of the system – including vastly reduced plant downtime – convinced the production management team to extend the role of PCS 7 into other areas of the manufacturing process at the Stoke site.

A staged migration ensured that as identified elements of the system were switched over the existing system was kept running in tandem.

With so many products manufactured on site, Fuchs is using the new system to ensure control system transparency. Data intelligence follows the product through the process from raw material intake, via the blending stage through to filling up the finished product tank.