Ice Cream Specialist Focuses on Reliable Operations

  • November 23, 2011
  • Case Study

Rockwell Automation’s Scalable and Flexible Safety Solution Helped Gram Equipment Optimize the Design of Industrial Plants for Ice Cream Production Background From its base in Denmark, Gram Equipment goes online to troubleshoot and edit programs for plants around the world. Simplified electrical documentation is just one more of the solution’s many benefits. Located in the south of Denmark, Gram Equipment is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of equipment for industrial ice cream production. The company delivers tailor-made, complete production lines to ice cream producers and other food processing firms looking for integrated solutions. These specially designed solutions include everything from individual assembly lines to complete production plants, mixing equipment and packaging lines. More and more customers are looking for increasingly advanced solutions as their production processes include complex systems and many specialized functions. Of course, every element in the system must work reliably and with a minimum of down time. Challenge Gram Equipment is currently constructing a very large production line for one of its bigger international customers. When finished, the plant will be able to produce 36,000 units per hour. Before implementing Rockwell Automation’s Safety solution two years ago, Gram Equipment often experienced problems with traditional safety systems, which comprised a PLC, a separate safety PLC and a servo system. Staff had to learn how to use three different software programs, and also how to connect the systems so they could communicate with each other. If the plant had to be modified, then this necessitated time-consuming changes to electrical documentation as well as programming changes which could only be carried out by a few, specially trained staff. The customer often had to do more testing, with lengthy test periods as a result. Now, close cooperation between Gram Equipment and Rockwell Automation has changed all of this. Especially changes related to Safety zone control are commonly carried out in agreement with the end user during commissioning. Solution Gram Equipment wanted to simplify system complexity and usability and based its control topology on an Allen-Bradley GuardLogix platform, which combines standard and safety control in one platform. “Not only does Gram Equipment save cabling and components, but it also saves the time it used to take to make the systems communicate with each other. Additionally, staff training is simplified and more effective as understanding of only one platform is now required. This demonstrates the strength of Rockwell Automation’s Integrated Architecture by combining control, network and safety – all in one product,” says Bjarke S. Petersen, commercial engineer safety, Rockwell Automation. Combining the three functions allows more staff to modify the plant according to customer wishes – quicker and easier. Now, staff only need to learn one software program, and electrical documentation has been simplified significantly. Apart from a few minor programming errors at the beginning of the project, which was to be expected with such a new concept, Gram Equipment did not have any problems with the GuardLogix installation. Results Using GuardLogix, Gram Equipment has produced plants that can run up to 30 servo drives with integrated safety (Safe-off). The system is completely scalable and fully flexible, and individual parts communicate via EtherNet/IP – a great advantage when Gram Equipment works with international customers. Since the standard I/O and safety I/O modules run via EtherNet/IP, troubleshooting and repairs all the way to a foreign plant’s IO points can be carried out from Denmark. This saves both Gram Equipment and its customers time and travel costs. An international service and support agreement between Rockwell Automation and Gram Equipment keeps these costs to a minimum and is a good example of the close cooperation between the two companies. Further cost savings were realized with the reduction in wiring, due to the shared communication infrastructure. During start up Gram also found it a lot easier to find any component errors using the GuardLogix system. In older designs, safety components were daisy chained and errors were hard to find – like looking for a blown bulb in Christmas tree lights, you have to check every one. Now, thanks to GuardLogix, you can find out exactly what has gone wrong and where. “Our cooperation with Rockwell Automation goes back to the mid 90s and has developed into more than the usual customer supplier relationship. We work together closely, and always have a good dialogue about pros, cons and costs before we choose the solution that works best for us and for our customer,” says the Electrical Department Manager at Gram Equipment. Rockwell Automation Safety solutions are certified according to international standards, so Gram Equipment can use Rockwell Automation Safety for customers around the world.  

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