Evaluating Data Collection the Campbell Soup Way

June 28, 2013
Tom Braydich and Campbell Soup have spent about 13 years using and optimizing an automated data collection and review system. The software evaluation and testing process they went through offers insights for others seeking maximum real-time visibility into the performance of manufacturing assets.

It would certainly appear that the folks at Campbell Soup Co. are firm believers in the old saying that you can’t improve what you can’t measure. They’ve spent about 13 years using and optimizing an automated data collection and review system from ZPI called Enterprise Manufacturing Diagnostics. More recently, they installed Wonderware IntelaTrac from Invensys Operations Management, a centralized mobile workforce and decision support system that greatly improves management of workflow, productivity, and data collection. The software evaluation and testing process they went through offers insights for others seeking maximum real-time visibility into the performance of manufacturing assets.

Campbell’s director of controls and maintenance systems engineering, Tom Braydich, says, “The last thing we wanted was nine different ways of accomplishing the same thing. We wanted a common solution that was off-the-shelf software, not custom. So we brought together people from operations, industrial engineering, IT, and engineering. We asked them to give us the names of vendors who might have what we were looking for.”

This led to a list of seven candidates that was pretty quickly whittled to three. Braydich continues: “We told the three that we weren’t going to pay them anything but we wanted them to install their product on one of our lines so we could see how well it met our needs. Among the things we monitored closely was how much time they spent in the plant actually getting it up and running. We also measured network traffic, because when you start doing electronic systems you notice how much network draw there is.

“We watched, too, to see if they had to modify existing PLC programs in our machines. And we wanted to see how invasive their software really was—in other words, could it really get into the PLCs and get the data and give us reports on a screen that we could use.”

All three of the companies on the short list were asked to do the same can line, from filling all the way to palletizing. At the end, ZPI was selected.

Very appealing was the fact that they were able to install their software without even leaving their offices in Canada, says Braydich. “Also, there were no modifications needed to our PLC or HMI programs running in our plant,” he says Braydich. “They satisfied all the criteria of the RFQ.”

Braydich also emphasizes the importance of the software being universal, lightweight, and useful enterprise-wide. By universal he means it can be easily deployed in any Campbell plant around the world regardless of whether the product being made is soup, juice, bread, cookies, or crackers. By lightweight he means that it did not require the layering on of additional code to the plant PLCs. And by useful enterprise-wide, he means he wants to be able to quickly view, from the comfort of his office in New Jersey, a plant anywhere in the Campbell Soup system.

“I didn’t want to have to get special permission from the plant, or need some kind of access tool, in order to view the data,” says Braydich.

Finally, the software had to know how to play nice with others. “We didn’t want to be stuck with something that only worked well with PLCs from Brand X or Brand Y,” says Braydich.

As the ZPI software was installed in one plant and then started going out into others, one of the training challenges that had to be dealt with was the tendency for operations people to view it as some kind of goose laying golden eggs. They had to be reminded that software doesn’t fix things. It reveals things that people need to address before anything gets fixed. Once this initial hurdle was overcome, plant personnel began to embrace the tool, and in short order it was operating in all nine Campbell plants.

According to Braydich, the software has increased productivity by about one can per minute per SKU. Looked at another way, it has generated a 20 percent IRR (Internal Rate of Return), which is right about what ZPI projected in the early days of implementation.

A longer version of this article originally appeared in Packaging World, July 2013, as “Campbell Soup’s cooking with real-time data.” A video of Tom Braydich’s presentation at The Automation Conference 2013, on which the article is based, can be viewed at http://www.automationworld.com/information-management/capturing-process-data-improve-manufacturing-performance

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