Remote plant monitoring & breaking down data silos
Through communication, process control management, and data analytics, engineers improve overall performance and plant safety
Toray Industries Inc., founded in 1926, is a multinational corporation headquartered in Japan that specializes in industrial products centered on technologies in organic synthetic chemistry, polymer chemistry, and biochemistry. Its founding business areas were fibers and textiles, as well as plastics and chemicals. The company has also diversified into areas such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and R&D, medical products, reverse osmosis bigmembranes, electronics, IT-products, housing and engineering, and advanced composite materials.
In the advanced composite materials division, Toray is the leading global supplier. The company specializes in thermoset technology, thermoplastic composites, composite tooling, and ancillary products. They are used in aeronautical, automotive, and personal fitness equipment.
“I’ve seen the whole transition of where we started, using paper, and Excel, from where we were just typing numbers in to where we are now with TrendMiner. It’s been a fun ride. I really support it, management supports it, Toray Industries supports it, and they are really looking to use all the data we collected. One of the issues we had was we collected it all, but now what? And this is the ‘now what’ that I’ve found.”
“Another key point is that we’ve had some monitoring capabilities added in TrendMiner that are separate from our control logic. We can establish where the value should be. If it’s outside of a given range, it sends an alert. And for the most part, we are getting value out our alarms. Anyone in manufacturing will tell you nuisance alarms are just nuisance. They don’t drive the productivity forward.”
Toray stores its operational data in a Proficy historian. Aside from the historian’s own trend client, the only other analytics solution on the plant floor was Tibco Spotfire for more general analytics purposes. TrendMiner works in tandem with these systems and serves as the company’s primary analytics application for operations.
The rate of raw material preparation had dropped below the production output rate, which caused undesirable process changes, line speed reductions, and production downtime. Raw material preparation is a two-step process that involves batch scaling from multiple silos and then vacuum drying.
In most cases, the batch preparation is automated, and the cycles repeat over and over. This continues until engineers realize the batches are taking longer than usual based on the demand. This usually means the dryer is a problem, but data indicated that even small recurring delays in the scaling process had compounding impact downstream.
The batches could not be dried in time to get to market. Using TrendMiner, engineers created a new conditional formula tag from stored time-series data to compare the scaling rate to the output rate. They then used this tag as the basis for establishing a monitor that alerted key personnel when the output rate starts exceeding the scaling rate.
Toray started seeing benefits on its first day of using TrendMiner. Process experts were able to move away from paper and spreadsheet analysis and begin making data-driven decisions. With TrendMiner, Toray engineers have found:
A user-friendly, intuitive environment helps bring new users up to speed quickly
An unrivalled ability to search and navigate through six years of process operational data
The software maximizes productivity and improves the quality and safety of the operation
Self-service monitors and alerts allow users to set up their own search criteria, activate a monitor trigger, and have email and text alerts sent to key stakeholders in a matter of minutes
Engineers get a quick visualization of processes that allow them to make decisions without the help of a data scientist
Root cause analysis and troubleshooting that would have taken many hours or even days to complete can be done in much less time, increasing overall efficiency and profitability
In this special blog post, TrendMiner customer Mike Malone, Process Engineer at Toray Plastics (America), discusses how, given work disruptions due to COVID-19, TrendMiner allowed for a seamless transition to working from home.