CIP Tetra Integration
Most of the people who follow this blog know me as an instructor or trainer, and that is certainly what I have focused most of my efforts on lately. I do however still do some programming and systems integration work, primarily with American Beverage Depot, a customer in the Miami, Florida area.
The machine in the above picture was picked up used by my friend Juan Pablo, owner of ABD. It was controlled by a GE 9030 PLC originally, and was going to be a project for one of ABD’s maintenance technicians. The last time I was here in Miami in February, I had done a preliminary design on the machine and program to get Humberto started on the machine.
Well, one thing led to another; Covid-19 hit, there was a death in Humberto’s family, and I was asked to take over the project. I received some documentation on the original machine in early April, and was told the machine had mostly been wired, but that the PLC and HMI programs had not been started.
Most of the PLCs at ABD are either Allen-Bradley or Siemens, so that is pretty much the plant standard. In this case an A-B MicroLogix 1400 had been wired in place of the 9030. For HMIs, Juan Pablo has chosen Weinviews as a standard for new projects, they are much less expensive than anything AB or Siemens has, software is free, and they work well.
I spent several hours a day for about three weeks fleshing out the PLC and HMI programs. I am able to use a VPN and Remote Desktop to program the PLC remotely using their software, but I also had a copy of each that I could work offline with. Juan was able to run the program and verify the wiring, but of course it is much easier to have the original programmer at the machine to actually debug and make changes. I have also been a bit stir crazy, so when he asked me to come down and visit I said OK.
I arrived about 3 days ago, and last evening we ran the machine in automatic for several cycles and everything worked pretty well. There are still a few piping and calibration issues to work out, but we are mostly done.
So what does the machine do? Many of you who have been in the bottling and beverage processing industry are familiar with CIP, or “Clean In Place”. Basically the machine pumps water with various chemicals and at various temperatures through the piping of juice and other beverage processing machinery. At ABD there are several juice boxing machines by Tetra Pak, hence the name CIP Tetra for the machine. When given the description of how the machine and cycles were to operate, I was able to take liberties with the recipe management and HMI. It is basically a 10 cycle machine that can rinse with water, an acid mix, an alkali mix, and a sanitizer/oxidizer mix at temperatures below the boiling point.
Before I started working on this in April, I had not really seen the insides of the machine to understand how it worked. So writing the program had a lot of unknowns, even with the process description.
One of the benefits of this project is that I know exactly how many hours it took to write the programs and do the startup. I kept careful track of the hours I did remotely, and then the hours I have done while here. I had right at 50 hours at home, and 17 hours so far here. I estimate I will have another 10-15 hours in it when it is complete, for a total of about 80 hours.
Another huge benefit of being down here is that I brought my server, 9 laptops, and a bunch of video recording equipment. I have taken a lot of video of the various machines running in the plant, including shots of the insides of control panels. So I am making progress on a lot of the new online training initiatives I have planned. My friend Juan is a wizard with computers, so he is helping me with some of the network issues I will be facing when trying to provide online courses.
I am also on the edge of getting into a new training facility after I return home, dealing with real estate and financing issues while here. So overall it has been a very productive couple of months, despite the tornado and Covid-19.
Remember, behind every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud! Err… that didn’t sound right… you know what I mean…