Liquids manufacture gets automation boost

29 January 2010

PZ Cussons, the company behind household brands such as Original Source, Imperial Leather and Carex, has built a new liquids manufacturing facility in Manchester. Endress+Hauser’s FieldCare software was implemented to maintain and configure the army of instrumentation installed at the plant.

The plant floor at Cusson’s liquids manufacturing facility in Manchester
The plant floor at Cusson’s liquids manufacturing facility in Manchester

In order to increase capacity and benefit from a more efficient process, toiletries giant PZ Cussons has invested in a new high-speed liquids manufacturing facility in Manchester. The old site, which had grown organically over a long period of time, was unable to deliver the production volumes to meet the customer demand. Additionally, it experienced too much operator intervention at virtually all stages of manufacturing, often introducing unwanted levels of product variability.

As part of a complete overhaul and modernisation of its UK supply chain, PZ Cussons decided to take advantage of the control and visualisation capabilities offered by a modern process automation infrastructure. Starting from scratch, PZ Cussons recognised many areas where savings could be made and adopted leaner manufacturing procedures making further savings in stock holding and deliveries. The primary challenge was to obtain visibility of all steps of the process and to keep all parameters within operational tolerances. This required extremely accurate batching, mixing and metering systems, which could not only communicate with each other, but also with the master control system within the offices and external suppliers via a secure extranet.

Endress+Hauser and Rockwell Automation were approached to develop an entirely new processing and production operation for PZ Cussons. Endress+Hauser supplied instrumentation across level, flow, temperature, pressure and analysis for the equipment of the company’s manufacturing facilities. A wide range of level devices including Micropilot radars, Liquiphant and Soliphant M vibrating level switches were supplied as well as pH measurement equipment such as Tophit pH sensors and Liquiline M transmitters. Electromagnetic (Promag) and vortex (Prowirl) flowmeters and RTD thermometers were also included in the range.

All field instrumentation supplied communicates over fieldbus networks that were designed, engineered, tested and commissioned by Endress+Hauser. Facilitating the central monitoring and analysis of communication traffic, these networks achieved seamless integration from the field devices to the control system and provided validation of measured variables along with valuable maintenance and asset management information. The maintenance and configuration of all equipment from a central location was achieved with the use of FDT/DTM capabilities of Endress+Hauser’s FieldCare software. Overall control of the production processes was achieved through Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx process automation system that uses a combination of technologies to achieve production and quality standards.

The implementation of the project made full use of the flexibility, improved process and diagnostic data that the field devices provide. This has given PZ Cussons a level of process visibility and control far beyond that of its older plant. By measuring and automating virtually every step of the recipe creation, mixing, processing and packaging lines, the total solution supplied has had a significant impact. Not only has the control system provided the required production volumes, but with the seamless integration of the field devices providing validated accuracy, quality targets have also been met. The savings have been such that the company says it is vindicated in its decision not to move manufacturing to alternative locations outside the UK.

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