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    When building the worlds largest ice cream and novelty manufacturing facility, the manufacturer installed a batch- and process-management solution to handle frequent formula modifi cations and records compliance.

    By William Atkinson, Contributing Writer

    >> When the leaders of an ice cream company de-cided to build a new facility that would provide them with significantly increased capacity, they asked for help from Minneapolis-based Cybertrol Engineering, a Solution Partner in the Rockwell Automation PartnerNet-work. The new facility would be much larger than any they had ever built in the past.

    In fact, now that it is completed, it is the largest ice cream and novelty manufacturing facility in the world, says Ben Durbin, P.E., president of Cybertrol.

    One of the keys to the projects success was that Cybertrol spent a lot of time with the customer, learning what worked best in each plant. We toured their plants, identi ed the best practices of the corporation as a whole, and integrated all of this with our expertise, as well as the Rockwell Automation hardware and software, to create one functioning system that would ensure a world-class operation, Durbin explains.

    Key to FlexibilityCybertrol recommended Rockwell Automation Facto-ryTalk Batch ( as a batch automation and process management solution for the customer for a number of reasons. One of the main things they need to do in the novelty ice cream business is to deal with the fact that product formula-tions change rapidly, Durbin explains. In fact, the word novelty means new.

    e plant constantly is making frequent modi cations to formulas and performing new trials. is requires a very exible manufacturing operation that can accom-modate the companys 40 active recipes with hundreds of possible ingredients.

    We coupled a recipe scheduling system that we built on top of FactoryTalk Batch, which allows [each plant] to automatically download formulas from a corporate formula-tion system to the plant, says Durbin. at is, the corporate


    TJ1410_48_51_Cybertrol.indd 48 9/24/14 9:39 AM


    This is the web-based application Cybertrol Engineering created that production supervision uses to

    schedule production across the batching systems. This application interfaces directly with the Facto-

    ryTalk Batch server to schedule batches, set batch sizes and set recipe parameters.

    FactoryTalk Batch View shows the batches currently in progress. Each batch has a unique Batch ID

    and shows information on the batch such as recipe, description, start time, elapsed time and state.

    This screen shows a snapshot of an ice cream recipe or Unit Procedure. The Unit Procedure consists

    of several Operation Procedures. In this example, the Unit Operation CLS_MIX_DAIRY_2LIK_UP

    has several Operation Procedures for starting tank agitation (CLS_MIX_AGITATE_OP), downloading

    setpoints (CLS_DOWNLOAD_BULK_SP_OP) and many others.

    formulation system is responsible for sending out the formulas to all its plants. en, each facility can interpret the formulas for its speci c equipment.

    The ice cream plant is making frequent

    modifi cations to formulas and performing new trials, requiring

    a fl exible manufacturing


    TJ1410_48_51_Cybertrol.indd 49 9/23/14 2:58 PM


    For example, one plant might have some automated equipment for adding certain ingredients, while an-other plant might hand add the ingredient. We can set those plant-specific run rules, and then schedule that through a scheduling interface at the plant, which automatically interfaces with the FactoryTalk Batch server, scheduling the batches on the batch server, he says.

    Now, when new formulas are rolled out, it doesnt require any programming changes to the system as long as the plant is not changing equipment and just using ingredients in different ways. These are just automated downloads of data from the corporate formulation system, Durbin notes. The system auto-matically interprets the corporate formula and allows operations to release it as an active site master recipe.

    FactoryTalk Batch also features dynamic equipment arbitration, which allows equipment to be acquired automatically as different batches run. For example, if a batch is running and wants to acquire the cream header when Batch A is done, Batch B automatically acquires the header when Batch A releases it, he says.

    FactoryTalk Batch is readily integrated with Allen-Bradley ControlLogix L75 programmable automation controllers (PACs). Control code in the PAC is sim-plified because the dynamic equipment arbitration is handled by FactoryTalk Batch. The FactoryTalk Batch and ControlLogix PAC software designs adhere to the ISA-88 standard. ISA-88 is a standard for address-ing batch process control. Systems designed to this standard allow manufacturing processes to produce in a f lexible manner.

    At this plant, they have over 100 source tanks, batch processes and destination tanks to deal with, which is quite a bit of equipment to coordinate, notes Durbin.

    Software SolutionsThe automation process was not without challenges. For example, the plant has 18 production lines and 12 batch processes. They are running 24/7/365, explains

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    FactoryTalk Batch features dynamic equipment arbitration,

    which allows equipment to be acquired automatically as

    different batches run.


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    Durbin. one of the challenges was the uptime of the central server-based batching system. as a result, we installed Factorytalk Batch in a Vmware fault-tolerant environment, so it is fully protected from single-point of failure of server hardware and network switches. Vmware inc. ( ware) is a participating encompass Product Partner in the rockwell automation Partnernetwork that provides virtualization software.

    the plant also had a need for electronic records. to address this, the built-in recordkeeping of Factorytalk Batch records all of the activity associated with the re-ceiving of raw materials, clean-in-place (ciP) for food plants, and batching unit operations. the automatic recordkeeping in Factorytalk Batch logs all of the data to a database, so we were able to build all of the reports for them that they needed for production, engineering, quality and research and development, says Durbin.

    the technology also enables better yield, with less waste than the company experiences in its other plants. we took the lab results from each truckload of incom-ing dairy ingredients and used those exact lab results to base our batching ingredient deliveries, he says. we didnt assume that every truckload was the same. this information allowed the plant to get the exact right components in the mix tanks, so that they are not overshooting just in order to meet the minimum dairy requirements.

    the company continues to expand the size of the new factory. the idea is to shift from a number of small factories to one mega-plant, notes Durbin. this will improve efficiencies in terms of being able to batch larger batches and having larger product runs for larger production Skus.

    Cybertrol Engineering LLC, based in Minneapolis, is a Rockwell Automation Solution Partner. The company provides enterprise-wide control and information systems integration, with proficiency in PLC/HMI based systems, Manufacturing Execution System (MES)/Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) applications, electrical design, server system configuration, virtualization, data collection, reporting applications, batch operations and UL control panels.

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