Amcor PET Packaging Streamlines Plant Operations with Kepware

Amcor PET Packaging Streamlines Plant Operations with Kepware

By Kepware

Amcor PET Packaging is a division of Amcor Ltd, a world leader in innovative packaging solutions from corrugated board to blister packs and bottles. The Amcor PET division is the firm’s largest business segment representing approximately 40 percent of revenue. Amcor PET Packaging delivers packaging solutions that provide shelf differentiation, unique features, advanced technology, and cost competitiveness. The organization is uniquely positioned to help develop innovative packages that are practical to manufacture, fill and use.

As the world’s largest PET container supplier, the division’s staff of more than 5,300 people is located at 63 manufacturing operations in 12 countries. From the birth of PET for the first soft drink containers, Amcor has continually pushed the boundaries of PET packaging with its solutions for longer shelf life, higher temperature filling, and unique shapes.

Amcor PET’s advanced research and development center in Manchester, Michigan (USA) is supported by satellite design centers in Brazil and Colombia.

The Challenge of Integrating Plant Floor Equipment

Amcor PET North America was looking for a way to streamline communications among their plant floor equipment, between the geographically diverse manufacturing plants, and their corporate office located in Michigan.

Bob Cooper, Corporate Manager of Controls Engineering, is responsible for factory floor systems integration and communications. According to Cooper, “We were looking for a cost effective, single OPC server that would support most of our applications. We also had a need for a user configurable protocol server – UCON for special applications.” Cooper adds that Amcor PET had been using Wonderware products so that a critical part of any solution would be a product that would seamlessly integrate to Wonderware’s Suitelink Protocol. Recognizing that new applications would likely be implemented and manufacturing needs would change, he also sought a solution that would be ubiquitous in its ability to integrate and flexible enough to grow as manufacturing needs changed and expanded.

Seeking an OPC Server solution was a team effort in terms of investigating options and testing possible scenarios. Amcor PET looked at several vendors before selecting Kepware as their vendor of choice. A key reason for choosing Kepware was its simple integration with Wonderware and its ability to support Siemens and Allen Bradley applications, as well as the capability to connect diverse pieces of equipment into a single network. “The wide range of solutions all contained within the KepwareEX server, the ability to communicate directly with the Wonderware Suitelink Protocol, excellent technical support and flexibility where all part of decision in our choice of Kepware for OPC connectivity solutions,” says Cooper.

Deploying the Plant Floor Solution

Kepware has been part of Amcor PET’s plant floor communication system for four years – morphing as new demands and efficiencies have required more integrations and monitoring. One example Cooper cited involved integrating a new facility. “We were in the process of commissioning a new state of the art plant, which included a very high level of technology aimed at improving quality and reducing labor requirements. As part of the overall project, it was essential that we provided product tracking of finished goods and automated ticket printing,” Cooper explains. A multi-functional team was in place involving many aspects of the business. The project involved reading data from plant floor production and packaging equipment and providing data to the middle-ware application, Apriso, running an Oracle database. This would allow Amcor to automatically track the product workflow and recognize the product as finished goods inventory or product delivered to the adjacent customer facility via AGVs. “We utilized Kepware to bring real-time production data into our Apriso/SAP system. Two copies of KepwareEX run on our HP Clustered Server running Oracle. Kepware provides the interface to the plant floor automation,” he adds.

The Kepware solution is extremely beneficial, according to Cooper, due to its flexibility. Our plants are very dynamic. We purchase new equipment and move equipment to different plant locations. Kepware is very helpful in our efforts to standardize our plants,” he says.

In fact, Amcor PET is in the midst of standardizing more of its facilities in North America. Currently there are ten plants utilizing the Kepware solutions.

Results Show Benefits of Connectivity Solution

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in our operational functionality as well as a higher level of customer satisfaction, particularly in the reduction of mis-ticketed products” noted Cooper. Kepware helps supply the automation necessary to eliminate the manpower requirements once needed for printing tickets and applying them on pallets of finished goods. “Occasionally, we have had some instances where pallets had received the wrong tickets, which were simply an issue of human error.” Now, with automation, the order numbers are generated automatically through the automation, and automatically printed and applied to the product.

Amcor PET has benefited from this project through reduction of labor. The manual method of data entry and ticket application have been replaced, allowing the staff previously assigned to those tasks to take on other, more meaningful responsibilities in support of the company.

“The overriding success of the Kepware solution is simply that fact that it’s so reliable and has had such a significant impact on our ability to streamline processes is that it is the standard for Amcor PET’s manufacturing facilities,” concludes Cooper.

Kepware is a provider of communication software for automation and offers unique experience in both OPC and embedded device communications. Since its beginning in 1995, Kepware has focused on the development of communication drivers to automation controllers, I/O and field devices. Operating system support includes; Microsoft Windows Desktop, Server and Embedded (Windows CE and Windows NT/XP Embedded). Kepware produces over 130 communication protocols and has shipped more than 100,000 licenses. For more information, please visit www.kepware.com.