Duracell produces their well-known batteries in Aarschot, Belgium for the European market. Competition and steadily growing sales levels stimulate Duracell to constantly increase productivity. The Plant Manager, Eduardo Toseto revels in the challenge and is man willing to change the rules to meet his goals.
This success story starts with a vision, a management philosophy. Eduardo believes in empowerment. “I will give my line operators the authority to take decisions and productivity will go up” “Give my line operators the information they need to make good decisions and I will call them Line Managers”Situation

We walk from security, to reception and on to the conference room. This plant feels well run, with security and safety procedures followed to the letter. In the plant the equipment is well laid out, the operators attentive to the lines and the overhead Kanban boards, which display production statistics. We are shown the green area where the teams meet in the morning to discuss problems and solutions.
Eduardo wants to provide his operators, soon to be managers, with accurate information on the status and performance of each line. A few years ago 2 lines were implemented with a Visual Basic for Access application connected to the plant floor control systems (GE-Fanuc PLC’s) and industrial PC terminals located along the line. A machine fault is immediately displayed to the operator and the operator can choose from a number of fault choices and enter comments. The data for machine downtime and reasons are logged in the access database and custom made reports can be called up by the operator to assist with decision making, for instance deciding upon maintenance action.
The existing application was named HMI (Human Machine Interface) but in fact is a data collection and performance analysis system. It proved successful and efficiency on the 2 lines and similar lines was rapidly improved as recurring faults and maintenance problems were resolved.

With the success of this project Duracell decided to implement similar systems on other production lines but first decided to review the available technology.

It soon became clear to the IT Manager at the plant, Jos Michiels, that new software packages were being launched onto the market and that for Duracell a standard software package which could easily be maintained and developed was an ideal solution. The search for this “ideal” solution took place both locally and internationally.

Duracell is one of four divisions within Gillette and Jos discussed with the Corporate IT team the various options.
After evaluating many different products Duracell decided to ask 2 companies to complete a detailed evaluation. ATS, the independent solution provider, with offices in Europe and Australia, worked closely with the local team to evaluate Activplant from EMT.

Activplant is a new breed of product built on Microsoft’s .NET technology. At the same time Rockwell Automation presented their Bizware solution.

Activplant was finally chosen as the superior software solution as it is considered to be a more advanced and better-integrated product. ATS was chosen as the implementation partner and EMT agreed to add some new functionality into the product to meet Duracell’s requirements. At the time the standard version of Activplant provided operator input from a separate web terminal. Duracell wanted the web based reporting system to report the fault to the operator and allow the operator to enter the fault details and comment from the same terminal. EMT agreed to add the new functionality through the so-called “Live Incidence View”.

Activplant is a true Manufacturing Intelligence product collecting data from the shop floor control systems and operators and presenting them through more than 60 standard reports to users who can easily configure the information to meet the user’s needs. For instance the soon to be Line Managers need to view data in a very different way than the quality or maintenance managers, whilst the underlying data is the same. Activplant’s Universal Factory Data Model relies on just 4 data types and real-time data is logged on an SQL Server/Database for viewing with a Web Browser.

Another important aspect of this project was the speed and sequence in which messages were received. Each line is controlled by 11 GE-Fanuc 90/30 PLC’s connected via Ethernet. Faulting messages from the PLC’s must be logged by Activplant in the correct sequence and quickly so that the operator can respond correctly. ATS wrote a Project Initiation Report detailing the project scope, project approach, the project team structure, costs and the risks involved. The risk analysis identified the possible problems with the speed and sequence as well as the need for a live incident view. By identifying these risks at an early stage ATS agreed with Duracell to carry out live tests before continuing with project implementation. The live tests led to changes being made in the PLC programs to provide data quickly and in the right sequence to Activplant.

The communication structure looks like this:
• To Ethernet
• Ethernet to OPC Server
• OPC Server to Activplant Data Collector
• Activplant Data Collector to Activplant Database
• Activplant Database to Web Browser for reporting and live incident viewing

Benefit #1 Operator Empowerment

Eduardo’s goal of empowering line operators to become managers is achieved. Implementation of Activplant is followed up by ATS Training:
• User Training to read and make reports on-line
• Administrator Training to manage the system and make it possible for Duracell’s own IT staff to manage the Activplant system
• Advanced Report Training for linking data to other data sources using XML to produce advance reports.

Benefit #2 Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and ROI

Activplant offers the newly appointed Line Managers such a clear view of real time performance and historical performance that they immediately use their new powers to make line decisions. The empowerment process has already increased productivity by 11%. The investment was paid back in just 3 months. The ROI is still being calculated as it’s going up all the time!

Benefit #3 Use the Hyperlink and more!

With the shop floor control systems linked to an SQL Server/Database and Duracell’s intranet, Frank Snijkers, Plant Engineering Manager, soon recognized that he could hyperlink to maintenance manuals from the web browser stations. Now a maintenance engineer could call up part details on the local terminal to help with any maintenance problem. With each day Duracell is realizing more and more of Activplant’s functionality, it seems only when they stop imagining more uses will the process ever stop!