About the Client
The client designs and delivers automated control system solutions for the Food, Animal Nutrition, and Agri-business industry. The client’s customers rely on them when unique automation and integration solutions are required.
The client’s solutions allow Plant Management personnel to minimize ingredient and production errors, improve efficiencies, and control their feed mill operation all from a computer screen. In addition to plant floor control, Client also provides full data integration with feed mill manager software, ERP, QA/QC, formulation/recipe management, laboratory and business systems.
Skills Shortage amidst high growth:
Needed PLC skilled programmers to design, customize, configure, and commission complex plant automation projects.
Growing order backlog leading to delays:
With the available team size, the client could deliver approx. 10-12 end-to-end projects in a year, however, this was not enough to clear the ever-growing backlog.
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The PLC programming team helped develop tools and accelerators such as “PLC Logic Builder” module that significantly reduced development time from 1 week to less than 1 day.
Based on the shop floor machinery and automation environment at each project location, the team provided PLC programming expertise on proprietary PLC environments including Rockwell, Fanuc, Siemens, Schneider, and ABB.
One of the known risks in offshore PLC programming was the disconnect between the requirements on the shop floor vis-à-vis the PLC code that gets generated by a remote team. Silicus worked with the client to mitigate these risks through rigorous processes and deployment of experienced domain experts who’ve spent several years on the factory shop floor.
Each project deployment followed a proven and tested process, with appropriate reviews, checks and balances in place, as briefed below:
Silicus engineers build an accurate & descriptive reference point/ benchmark for the various phases of development and testing. They work with the hardware vendor to understand the wiring, Input Output (IO) detail, control parameter of drive, sensor interface, etc. and work closely with client to finalize the algorithm, parameter settings, all alarm settings, failsafe condition & behavior of system in case of emergency.
Silicus domain experts will create design documents for each phase for programming strategy, functional behavior, Human Machine Interface (HMI), screen layout, use cases, communication & control strategy of all outputs. This document presented to the client for approval.
Based on the mutually approved design & use cases, the developer will work on the PLC coding based on the following fundamentals:
- Code re-usability
- Well-structured & commented code
- Safety & action in case of emergency
- Use of scan time within limit
- Proper use of task management (periodic, continuous)
- Able to communicate & transfer the information
Developer performs unit testing to ensure the developed system is working properly as per original design, also simulation logic is developed to verify the use case.
Domain Expert Review:
Silicus domain expert reviews the code to make sure all industry standards are followed in develop the system/software to achieve client’s objectives.
Offshore Quality Analysis Testing:
Offshore Quality Analyst (QA) team tests the developed system/ software based on simulation logic & test result are shared with the client.
Demo will be given to the client to make sure software is ready as per expectation & ready to deploy onsite.
Onsite testing & commissioning:
If needed, Silicus commissioning Engineer will travel on-site to test and deploy the software in client’s environment with real sensors.
Rockwell, Fanuc, Siemens, Schneider, and ABB
VB.NET, OPC (Kepware) and SQL Server
Ability to deliver approx. 50 projects p.a. from 10 projects initially
TThe clients innovative plant automation solutions were in high demand, the offshore team at Silicus enabled the client’s sales and marketing teams to confidently sell their solutions and win projects, knowing they have a partner who can scale up and support the pre-sales, design, development, and installation requirements.