September 19, 2023
Who is using PlantPAx DCS to help Country Maid Inc.?
Meet Ray Berning, an automation manager with Interstates. They’re a global provider of electrical, automation, and operational technology solutions and were recently designated a Rockwell Automation Platinum System Integrator partner.
Country Maid, Inc. a manufacturer of seasonal and specialty bakery items, is a long-time Interstates client. Facing growing product demand, Country Maid wanted to increase production and efficiency without having to expand their facility.
“To start, we took more of a consulting role,” Ray says. “We talked through their process, walked through the facility, met with their engineering team and discussed how we thought we could increase production and what would work best.
“While they had the needed equipment, there was no automation. It was all standalone islands of mixers, additions and other stuff. Initially they talked about building some larger mixers but that would create a problem because they’d have to increase their building size.”
Increased Production and Improved Product Quality
Instead, Interstates and County Maid implemented a digital transformation solution that included Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx distributed control system, FactoryTalk Batch and FactoryTalk Historian software offerings.
“We were able to keep the same mixers and add a second line without adding any additional labor,” Ray notes. He estimates automating production “reduced mixing time by about 23% which allowed those mixers to feed the additional line. We also increased line feed by 14%, doubling their output.”
Additionally, the new system provided visibility to valuable data critical to product quality. For example, inside and outside temperatures impact texture and consistency when using ingredients such as dill and flour.
“With some of the reporting features, we’re able to see how temperature affects product,” Ray says. Since the project’s initial implementation, the bakery manufacturer has automated more of their ingredient feeds allowing them to set and better control the impact of changing temperatures.
ERP Integration Adds Further Benefits
Interstates also integrated the new production system with Country Maid’s ERP system. Now, “when distributors enter orders, the ERP systems adds those orders to the batch list so when operators come in everything they need to do is already set up,” Ray says. “They just hit start.”
The integrated system also tracks raw material usage and automatically orders new amounts when needed.
Ray describes Country Maid as a “very forward thinking” manufacturer. “They’ve worked with us on some testing and software beta releases, and we recently finished up the Plant Pax 5.0 Upgrade with them.”