A Global Real-Time Data Collection Project

Progea developed a global project for an American customer with plants all over the world, which monitors the production flow in real time. The aim? Calculating OEE using KPIs to achieve maximum efficiency

by Andrea Di Talia

A specialist in the industrial packaging product and service sector, Greif can count on nearly 300 operating locations in dozens of countries.
The first contacts with Progea (a group active in the production of SCADA/HMI platforms for industrial supervision) took place in Italy, when a couple of Greif plants in the Milan area carried out some research work, identifying in Progea the ideal supplier thanks to the flexibility of its products and especially thanks to the Pro.Lean module.
The requirement was automating the plants, and in particular collecting data to supply a local database and create a customized OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness, the measure of total effectiveness of a plant) solution.

Optimizing the production flow of more than 100 plants worldwide
The application was developed directly by Progea and installed in these two Milanese plants. Greif’s headquarters in the United States then requested the development of a global project, enabling monitoring of the production flow in real time and calculating the OEE using KPIs (Key Performance Indicators, the indicators of the progress of a corporate process). The project was to be installed in plants located around the world for each production line and plant: over 100 plants in 35 countries. In some countries, Greif was already using an OEE and KPI monitoring solution, therefore one of the objectives was to improve the existing solution, but also to install the application speedily so as to allow operators to effectively monitor production efficiency indicators. OEE monitoring is critical to obtain maximum performance from production lines. The analysis of downtime and micro-stops has enabled the optimization of the production flow and therefore the synchronization of the speeds of the various production phases. The data collected and transformed into reports are first analyzed by the production manager; these reports are then sent from each plant in the geographical area to the area manager and, finally, data from all the plants located around the world are sent to a cloud platform, allowing a global analysis to be carried out directly by the US headquarters.

The phases of the project, step by step
Progea realized and installed the project at most of the Greif plants in about a year and a half, ending the project in 2019.
The long and accurate team analysis with Greif’s data analysts was the first important step to create the list of requirements and characteristics of the project. Based on this first analysis, a method was developed to standardize the information, data, parameters and metrics to be collected from all lines and all plants, necessary to carry out a successive correct production analysis. Among these data, the causes of machine downtime/line downtime and micro-stops were essential, as they then allowed precise adjustments on the lines to reach the desired level of efficiency.
Greif and Progea also devised together the definition of the HMI part, with a series of customized graphic synoptics; it is used in every plant to collect and show all the information in real time. As a consequence, the various screens have been installed on touch screen stations along the production lines, to view all the information not automatically available from the PLCs (shift changes, scraps, manual downtime and so on), and used to highlight to the operator the real time production information relative to the actual batch being produced, to the state of the line (stop, alarm, pause) for which the operator is required to enter the cause.

Locally historicized data are brought to a central server
Other synoptics displayed on large screens have been implemented, representing a table with real-time production data related to the various work shifts with their main indicators (time, OEE, KPI and so on).
Progea also customized the configuration Wizard of the Pro.Lean module according to the requests and characteristics of the project requested by Greif. The Pro.Lean Wizard is a tool that allows, by means of a guided procedure, to import from an Excel spreadsheet or manually set the information and parameters of a specific plant, save them in tables of a SQL database and use the template to automatically parameterize and create the complete OEE application.
Finally, data historicized locally for each plant and factory have been brought to a central server, from which production data may be precisely analyzed through a web portal and analysis tools. This part of the project was carried out under Progea’s supervision using third-party software and partnerships.

Openness, scalability and flexibility
Greif appreciated and chose Progea for the openness, scalability and flexibility of its solutions. In particular, Movicon.NExT has turned out to be a flexible and scalable solution allowing a rapid implementation and parameterization on plants around the world.
Also important was the suite of PLC driver libraries integrated in the software platform, which allows a direct connection with all the machines of the various suppliers without any need for additional hardware.
Greif was fully satisfied with the Pro.Lean module for OEE calculation based on the Movicon.NExT platform. It can thus be integrated with other automation requirements such as plant supervision.
Fundamental for Greif was the freedom to choose the integrators and not be bound to anyone in particular: after installation, the application may be easily customized by different system integrators.