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Enhanced safety and less downtime for Cadbury

01 July 2010

EXCLUSIVE Cadbury has adopted Logix technology for advanced automation control and contemporary zoned safety solution. This achieved enhanced safety and eliminated lengthy downtime.

Cadbury, one of the most famous names in global confectionery, has an instantly recognisable portfolio of chocolate, gum and candy brands. Evolving from a small shop in Birmingham, England in 1824 selling cocoa, its operations now deal with more than 30,000 direct and indirect suppliers.

"Like all manufacturers, quality, cost and employee safety are prime concerns as they can all have an impact on the public perception of the company's brands. For this reason, Cadbury – like many other leading manufacturers – is always looking for ways to enhance safety and manage production costs without impacting the quality of the finished product.

Roses and Heroes are almost certainly the chocolate selection of choice for special occasions or, as the adverts imply, for simply saying 'thank you'. Manufactured and packaged on a line in Cadbury's Bournville plant in Birmingham, they are among Cadbury's most popular brands.

Behind these relatively simple confectionary products there is an impressive manufacturing operation. However, engineers on this particular line of products were facing two issues – not uncommon in any established manufacturing facility – these were: obsolescence of the existing automation controllers and overly onerous fault-finding routines on both the automation and safety networks.

It was these issues that prompted Cadbury to get in touch with Rockwell Automation – suppliers of the existing PLCs – to see if a contemporary solution was available... a solution that ticked all the boxes on Cadbury's extensive list of requirements, including the vital safety system.

According to Terry Green, Senior Electrical Project Engineer at Cadbury: "The original safety system comprised EStops, guard switches and on-track mould tray switches all wired in one series loop. This configuration meant that if we had a failure in the loop, it became a process of elimination to locate it – a bit like looking for a blown Christmas tree bulb.

"This fault diagnosis issue, which at times demanded days of downtime, coupled with the fact that the existing, older Allen-Bradley® PLCs were no longer on Rockwell Automation's supported hardware list, meant that we needed to make some major changes," Green elaborates. "We therefore decided to go back to grass roots and create a new line-control and safety specification that used equipment modules and software all based on contemporary standards including S88 running on Logix.

Rockwell Automation's solution replaced the five older PLCs with three new ControlLogix® PACs, one of which was an Allen-Bradley GuardLogix® model, the first of its type in the Cadbury plant, to oversee the safety infrastructure.

From the automation perspective a number of drives and all the existing I/O were also replaced, with a completely new software environment controlling them.

It was decided that, due to the size of the installation, three separate safety zones running on DeviceNet would be established. Each zone has a small cluster panel containing two or three Safety I/O modules, each of which controls roughly 30 devices – with a total of 250 safety devices on the whole line. The zone approach also makes fault finding far simpler.

Green elaborates: "All the field equipment was the same, but the EStops, guard switches, pull wires and their associated safety relays were all replaced; with all of the new switches now using a plug and socket connection for ease of replacement. The safety isolation solution was also deployed to the MCC banks to isolate the three-phase and control voltages using safety contactors controlled by the GuardLogix PACs."

Conscious of the operators on the shop floor, even though the SCADA system was upgraded, the look, feel and functionality of the old system were retained across the five individual FactoryTalk® SE stations. This familiarity helped to foster quicker operator "buy-in" while still giving them more transparency and more scope to take control – using an S88-based permissions system.

The new automation and safety infrastructure now exhibits far greater intelligence. Each process and safety device now has a unique ID on the PACs, which means fault finding via the SCADA is significantly simpler and therefore quicker – helping slash the potential for long periods of downtime.

The alarm system has also been completely re-addressed, with the frequency and severity of false alarms being driven out. "Now the number of alarms has been rationalised," Terry explains, "there is far less 'alarm fatigue' as the operators now know that any alarms generated by the system are serious enough to demand their intervention."

From a personnel perspective, Green enjoyed working with Rockwell Automation. "The mixture of skills and personalities was really good," he explains. "It was quite a pressurised two-week period over Christmas in which we had to rip out all of the back plates and safety devices and then replace them with the new equipment and get it all going again.

"We had multiple commissioning teams working sequentially," he concludes, "and actually handed the project over two days early and to cost! It was a great achievement and even though the local electrical guys were a little sceptical, they have done a wonderful job, and the new S88-based approach has been very well received. The collaborative approach adopted by Cadbury and Rockwell Automation made this line enhancement a whole lot easier than it could have been, and it was widely acknowledged as a real success by all parties."

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