PET Container Supplier Relies on OPC Servers

Kepware integrates plant equipment with a single OPC server for leading container manufacturer Amcor, to bring real-time production data into the Apriso/SAP business system.

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Amcor PET Packaging, a division of Amcor Ltd., and a world leader in innovative packaging solutions, is the organization's largest business segment, representing approximately 40 percent of revenue.

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

Among, across, between

Amcor PET's advanced R&D center in Manchester, Mich., is supported by satellite design centers in Brazil and Colombia. The organization sought a way to streamline communications across plant-floor equipment, among geographically diverse manufacturing plants, and out to the 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: U-CON (user-configurable protocol server) for special applications."

Cooper says Amcor PET had been using Wonderware products so that a critical part of any solution would involve seamless integration to Wonderware's Suitelink Protocol. Recognizing that new applications would likely be implemented and manufacturing needs would change, Amcor PET also sought a solution that would be ubiquitous in its ability to integrate, and be flexible enough to grow as needs changed.

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 the 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 KEPServerEX OPC server, the ability to communicate directly with the Wonderware Suitelink Protocol, excellent technical support, and flexibility [were key decision points] in our choice of Kepware for OPC connectivity solutions," says Cooper.

Deploy to the floor

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, including those involving additional facilities and locations, explains Cooper.

"We were in the process of commissioning a state-of-the-art plant, which included a very high level of technology aimed at improving quality and reducing labor requirements," he says. "As part of the overall project, it was essential that we provided product tracking of finished goods and automated ticket printing."

Cooper says a multifunctional team was put in place surrounding many aspects of the business. The project involved reading data from plant-floor production and packaging equipment and providing data to the middleware 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 used Kepware to bring real-time production data into our Apriso/SAP system. Two copies of KEPServerEX run on our HP Clustered Server running Oracle. Kepware provides the interface to the plant-floor automation," explains Cooper.

For more information about OPC solutions from Kepware Technologies, visit www.kepware.com.

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