September/October 2013
Channel Chat

Asset optimization project improves efficiency, decision making for Indian copper producer

By Anil Mehta

Sarla Technologies, an ISO 9001:2008 and CSIA-certified engineering process automation company headquartered in Navi Mumbai, India, successfully completed a project in the metals and mining industry with one of the most renown multinational brands in India.

The project was recently undertaken to use the SAP MII platform for manufacturing integration and intelligence for a leading metals manufacturer. The manufacturer is the largest nonferrous metals and mining company in India with manufacturing plants located in Tuticorin and Silvassa, India, producing copper. The task was to connect their business operations to the factory floor in real time, interfacing with existing enterprise resource planning and other factory-floor applications while delivering "intelligence" to production personnel using a single ISA 95-compliant layer. The project scope was very broad. Integration was required with several systems, including distributed control systems (DCSs), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, programmable logic controllers, energy monitoring systems, as well as with material management (MM) and plant maintenance (PM) systems. There is now an effective dissemination of plant information across the locations to the corporate level using web services. The entire project was successfully completed within the stipulated time schedule.

Expertise and quality certification from the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) was pivotal for Sarla Technologies to meet the required business standards for developing the processes and to integrate and manage the project. The company is one of the fastest growing private sector companies in India. The goal of the project was to build a knowledge- and process-driven organization through Trusted Platform Module, leveraging technology to its full potential across the business cycle for all plants.

There were several challenges, starting with a lack of visibility of real-time and historical trends of production and asset parameters across the plant. All the critical plant parameter data were scattered, but needed to be centralized for better decision making. It took a huge manual effort to capture the process parameters and maintenance parameters to accomplish this, so it was seldom done. This lack of information for the production personnel resulted in poor, uninformed decision making. The integration required a number of systems to interface, including various makes of plant-floor systems, Proficy Historian 4.0, PCo 2.1, SAP MII 12.1, and SAP ECC 6.

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Improved productivity, efficiency

The organization integrated the new software with systems in manufacturing execution system layers, including DCS, SCADA, PLCs, energy monitoring systems, and MM and PM systems. There is now effective dissemination of plant information across the locations to the corporate level using web services.

The system has delivered a wide range of benefits that improve productivity and efficiency. Better utilization and optimization of manpower have been possible due to the automation of various activities, such as utilities consumption, booking, and reports (e.g., the daily production report). Alert mechanisms delivered via email and mobile devices provide information for quick corrective action in case of plant stoppage or when the production rate falls below the set limits. Using predictive maintenance management, including interfacing to a plantwide condition-based monitoring system, has improved preventative maintenance and plant availability by avoiding unplanned shutdowns. Faster and better decision making using role-based dashboards for all to visualize key plant productivity indicators (both current and historical values) enables fast and precise decision making, thereby averting production losses. Energy utilization has improved, because an energy management system is linked with the software. It helps to monitor the energy consumption of critical equipment with trend analysis and allows workers to take corrective action at any point.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anil Mehta is chief executive officer of Sarla Technologies, a CSIA-certified member with headquarters in Navi Mumbai, India. To learn more about Sarla Technologies, visit the company's website at www.sarlatech.com. To learn more about CSIA and CSIA certification, visit www.controlsys.org.