Specialty Chemical Maker Seeks Manufacturing Footprint Strategy

A leading manufacturer of specialty chemicals retained Matrix Technologies to design a manufacturing footprint strategy that would ensure sustained business processes and systems on the manufacturing floor through holistic automation. Matrix Techologies’ challenge was to provide a manufacturing execution system (MES) that would govern all operation and business rules that drive the manufacturing process in a modern manufacturing greenfield facility.

The specialty chemical company’s products and solutions are used in planes, cars, smart and medical devices, batteries, in mineral and oil extraction, among many other applications promoting sustainability. The manufacturer’s light weight materials enhance cleaner mobility, its formulations optimize the use of resources and its performance chemicals improve air and water quality.

Project Challenges were Numerous

Modern manufacturing systems must make the processes more scalable, efficient and flexible to support the top- and bottom-line growth. The existing model presented a number of challenges:

  • The processes are highly manual and depend mostly on human factors, thereby creating challenges in safety and quality which eventually also impacts delivery.
  • There is minimal data collection to understand any process deficiencies in order to drive any continuous improvements at the sites.
  • There is very little feedback to the shop floor on quality, financial and other performance targets that hinder in driving performance to meet the growth requirements for the business.
  • The processes are not well connected between the shop floor and the business systems, quality systems, lab systems, maintenance systems, etc.

Solution Offers Seamless Control

Based on Matrix Technologies’ recommendations, the client selected WonderWare Model Driven MES with Skelta Workflow. The software controls data flow, manufacturing processes and product genealogy. Specifically, the solution offers:

  • Workflow foundation for continuity, reliability and standardization of processes, people and procedures with a model-driven approach
  • Standardization of processes that helps ensure more consistent production results
  • Integrated flow of information between the plant floor and business operations
  • Optimization of work orders and priorities for execution
  • Automated work instructions
  • Track-and-trace genealogy
  • Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and performance metrics including equipment uptime/downtime

The software chosen to complete the project included a foundation for a manufacturing execution system (MES), Siemens control system, network architecture, a suite of Wonderware software products and a wireless warehouse.

The solution also included networking and virtualization built on VMware virtual infrastructure software. This virtual infrastructure reduces server footprint and provides high availability with 24/7/365 access. Networking also provides for reliable and secure communication for process control.

By automating the process, the client will create a consistent and standard process for execution, enabling product genealogy, material management, quality tracking and data collection and visibility through reporting.

Project Deliverables Offer Holistic Solution

From the user interface, workers can now download production orders, manage documents, obtain electronic signatures, track and modify defects, label products and print labels. Reporting capabilities include production summary by work center, details for a production order, and track-and-trace genealogy.

The entire suite of solutions provides the specialty chemical manufacturer with the sustained business processes and systems on the manufacturing floor that it sought. Due to the success of Matrix Technologies’ work, the customer is now engaging the team on a new greenfield project at another site.

Matrix Technologies is one of the largest independent process design, industrial automation engineering, and manufacturing operations management companies in North America. To learn more about our manufacturing operations management capabilities and manufacturing process control solutions, contact John Lee, Department Manager, Implementation Group of the Manufacturing Systems and Solutions Division.

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