Major SCADA & PLC Upgrade Increases Uptime, Lowers Maintenance Costs for Rice Milling Company

A rice milling company needed a new PLC in a truncated timeline. Automation Group, an E Tech Group Company’s team inventoried equipment and upgraded the facility’s automation system to Ignition SCADA software, setting the client up to meet goals and be prepared for growth.

The Project: Upgrade a Facility’s Control System in 2 Days with No Downtime

A rice milling company was facing operational constraints of a legacy SCADA system. The system was costly to maintain, and the control system design caused frequent communication problems between different production areas.

The client needed a new PLC program to be installed within a 48-hour timeframe to minimize production impacts, and the existing SCADA system needed to remain operational during the migration to Inductive Automation’s Ignition platform.

The client contracted Automation Group, an E Tech Group Company as their choice system integrator given their advanced expertise in system migration and the successful execution of projects at the client’s other facilities.

The Challenge: Tread Softly with Time & Operation Constraints

There were a few obstacles to this control system upgrade that required one of the unique proficiencies of E Tech Group’s brand of automation system integration:

  1. An obsolete PLC controlled their rice finishing line.
  2. An obsolete SCADA automation application controlled the entire facility.
  3. The client had a strict 48-hour timeline to the upgrade implementation.
  4. The new SCADA needed to be implemented without disrupting the existing one.
  5. The new SCADA needed to be able to work alongside the legacy control system.

E Tech Group’s team knew this diverse set of obstacles would affect the course of the project, end-to-end. Our control system integrators had to find a creative way to work quickly without sacrificing our detailed approach or the quality of the upgraded automation system.

The Solution: Modular Migration Solves Everything

The project team created a site inventory of the customer’s existing PLCs, network, computers, and applications. The project included upgrades to servers, computers, and network switches in collaboration with the customer’s IT department, the upgrade to Ignition SCADA software across six applications with approximately 500 screens, and the upgrade to two ControlLogix PLC chassis. 

The SCADA upgrade was completed in several phases and each application was upgraded individually. This helped minimize impacts on the customer’s production efforts and enabled the legacy and new SCADA applications to run simultaneously so the customer’s personnel could learn the new SCADA software.

The Results: Short-Term Success for Long-Term Growth

This approach to updating the facility’s control system allowed the client to improve operations and network communications at once while giving their operators time to learn the new system before getting rid of the old. Automation Group, an E Tech Group Company leverages this distinct diverse, multidisciplinary engineering approach to create intelligent automation solutions for the customer’s long-term success and the opportunity to support their operations in the years to come.

The talented automation engineers at our most recent acquisition, Automation Group, an E Tech Group Company, managed this particularly tricky project. For more information on this system upgrade, visit their website for the complete case study.