The AriZona Beverages plant will produce more than 60 million cases per year. The connection to ERP is just one of the SCADA system’s many benefits, which also include greater access to data, better mobility, improved efficiency, and lower costs.
AriZona Beverages is famous for its wide variety of teas, juices, and energy drinks. The company is based in Woodbury, New York, and its newest plant is in Keasbey, New Jersey. The plant opened in November 2019, is 621,000 square feet, and will produce 60 million cases of drinks per year on its six lines.
For the new state-of-the-art plant, AriZona wanted a comprehensive solution for human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and a manufacturing execution system (MES) that would connect to its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which is SAP. Working with system integrator Vertech, AriZona implemented a system based on Ignition by Inductive Automation and Sepasoft.
Ignition is an industrial application platform with tools for building solutions in HMI, SCADA, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Sepasoft MES provides control, traceability, and documentation of the transformation of raw materials into finished goods in real time.
Vertech has offices in California, Arizona, Texas, and Tennessee, and has extensive experience in food & beverage and other industries. Vertech had a tall order for the AriZona project: provide the SCADA platform, the MES solution, an ISA-88-compliant batch control system within SCADA, and a strong connection to SAP — while also improving access to data for better production efficiency and lower costs. Vertech provided all this and more.
“We’ve improved efficiencies and processes throughout the plant,” said Shami Usmani, vice president of engineering and manufacturing for AriZona Beverages. He said the SCADA system’s ease of use and flexibility were a big part of the project’s success. “Getting analytics out of a manufacturing facility has always been difficult,” said Usmani. “We wanted best-in-class software to help us analyze the data received from the plant.”
Paul Warning, solutions architect with Vertech, said Ignition fit the bill. “It’s an extremely flexible platform,” said Warning.
“It has a lot of features that modern manufacturing facilities require. Adapting to the things that changed throughout the course of the project was easy to do with this platform.”
Connecting to SAP
“One of the key features that we implemented is the communication between SAP and our SCADA landscape,” said Kimon Stergakos, chief solutions architect for business applications and technology for AriZona.
“We can perform a detailed schedule within MES and then transfer that detailed schedule along with all the required process and order information and bring it right into SAP with no intervention from either party. That was a big step for us. The other benefit of course is getting real-time information back from MES on our production counts. So we get real-time inventory information, and we get real-time change information in the system for detailed scheduling. A lot of benefit there for us.”
Alex Hunt, quality manager for AriZona, agreed with Stergakos on the value of connecting the systems. “It’s very important for us to be able to integrate MES with SAP for two reasons,” said Hunt. “The first one is to ensure that all the material that gets purchased and used to make a batch is accounted for in SAP. And the second one, from a quality point of view, is for traceability, to know what ingredients went into every batch.”
The SCADA system also improved data access and ease of use. “Ignition allowed us to integrate a lot of the controls into the batching, communicating with all the different systems in the plant,” said Hunt. “It really smoothed out our process.” He added that this SCADA system has been easier to use than other systems he’s used in the past.
He was also impressed by the flexibility, which was especially helpful during the plant’s first year of operation. “We were always adding new recipes into the system, and we found that it was much easier than we’d expected,” said Hunt. “And it’s also very easy to change current recipes. And to have real-time data is absolutely essential. As soon as a product is made, it needs to be shipped to another facility. But before we make each product, we have to create a batch. So we’re basically doing just-in-time batching, and that would not be possible without a system like this, that can manage inventory and also manage packaging goods.”
More data, more access
Vertech’s Warning said the SCADA system gave AriZona benefits on several levels. “The flexibility and database integration made it an ideal platform to build a custom batch solution from the ground up that followed the core principles of ISA-88 — while also providing some freedoms to adapt the system to AriZona’s business needs,” he said.
Defining those business needs involved AriZona’s core teams getting together to take a good look at their workflows. “We saw there were a lot of manual handoffs, where people were just exchanging information via emails and phone calls,” said Stergakos. “So we designed a solution that removed those manual handoffs. We identified seven areas where we had those, and now we feel we’re getting a lot out of the fact that we automated that.”
The automated system with SCADA and MES helps AriZona convert manufacturing data into actionable analytics. It includes a best-in-class batch control system that interacts with every level of automation, from device control to SAP.
The system delivers data for overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), downtime tracking, scheduling, and finished goods reporting. And software licensing costs were lowered due to Ignition’s unlimited licensing model, which brings no additional costs when adding more tags, clients, devices, or projects.
“The value of unlimited licensing was further enhanced as AriZona’s IT group made SCADA clients accessible through their corporate business network,” said Warning. “This gave management, quality, maintenance, and production planners access to SCADA and MES systems through their corporate laptops without additional licensing costs.” With all the connections within the new plant, and the links to SAP, AriZona has more data to work with than it ever had before.
A key aspect of the solution is Ignition Perspective, which leverages the power of mobile devices. “The Perspective application for phones and tablets shows a summary of current work orders, sugar tank inventories, syrup tank inventories, and more,” said Warning. “You can see what’s been batched, and where the products are. You can see production packaging counts for OEE and downtime, and key performance indicators over the last seven days.”
Usmani said Perspective has been very helpful for AriZona. “Being able to see data on tablets, on phones, and on screens around the plant is the key to success,” said Usmani. “That has helped us tremendously to keep the costs down and look at our KPIs.”
AriZona also appreciated all the help from its system integrator for this very ambitious project. “Vertech has been a great partner to AriZona,” said Usmani. Stergakos agreed. “Our experience with Vertech has been outstanding,” he said. “Our IT and operations teams have developed good relationships with the Vertech team. Their skills and knowledge are superior to other vendors we’ve worked with in the past.”