Dow Corning’s manufacturing plant in Carrolton, Kentucky stands as one of the biggest silicone materials production facilities globally. It is responsible for the production of silicone fluids, blends, emulsions and intermediate materials that are essential for the company’s over 7,000 products that are used in functions that include electronics, construction, and energy.
However, when parts of their current Foxboro distributed control neared the end of their life cycles, the team looked towards upgrading the legacy control and I/O Modules in order to prevent risks of failure, safety incidents and loss of operational profitability.
To begin with, the company looked towards providing transparent upgrades and chose to retain their human-machine interface and documentation to ensure that results can be quickened and that changes that would be introduced would be seamless for the company’s operators and engineers. After which, Foxboro upgrade experts at Schneider Electric were consulted with regards to a phase-by-phase upgrade instead of a “rip-and-replace” technique which would incur losses for the company due to the requirement of system shutdowns. While for the plug-and-play approach, the timeline for the upgrades were sped up significantly and CAPEX was reduced by approximately 50 percent.
Throughout the upgrading process, existing infrastructures including nose cones and field wiring and most of the company’s software would remain functional while they collaborated with Schneider Electric to draft new metal 1×8 cabinets (to replace existing plastic IE32’s) and arranged for the housing of new 1×8 upgrade structures configured to match up with existing infrastructure (nose cones) for ease of install. These cabinets would also store the new, more powerful controllers.
As the company’s control was still functional, unforeseen change requests could be attended to and the team was also able to complete the upgrades in half the time that was estimated, which prevented a time crunch and led to additional revenue gains.
Dave Caldwell, Foxboro subject-matter expert for Dow Performance Silicones has also commented that, “all of our pre-job investments paid off, as the system was up and running ahead of schedule.”
Thus, although the upgrade to the new EcoStruxure Foxboro was projected to be costly and time consuming, Dow Performance managed to transform it into a seamless experience that ame in under budget and well under deadline. This indicates that the most challenging part of modernising an operation is the decision making process behind it but with good planning and teamwork, the risks involved can be reduced. Additionally, by sustaining a consistent user interface and engineering environment, the risk of human error as well as training costs associated with a new platform can be minimised.
To learn more about Dow Corning’s experience with EcoStruxure for Plant, please read the full case study here.