A manufacturer of precision machined aluminum die castings and subassemblies reduced costs and raised efficiency by implementing an industrial application platform. New tools enabled building solutions in human-machine interfaces, SCADA and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
Madison-Kipp Corporation (MKC), based in Madison, Wisconsin, makes precision machined aluminum die castings and subassemblies for the transportation, lawn & garden, and industrial markets. When it wanted to bring down costs and raise efficiency, MKC implemented an industrial application platform with tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The web-based Ignition platform from Inductive Automation provides unlimited licensing and strong interoperability, both of which help MKC with numerous projects. The company uses the platform for central SCADA, control of Ignition Edge clients, part tracking, part history, reporting, alarms, alarm history, transaction management, API access, predictive control for HVAC, text notifications, and more. Visual capabilities give Madison-Kipp a more accurate picture of what’s happening on the plant floor.
“Technology is very important to us,” said Bill Johnson, vice president of operations for MKC. “We have to keep ahead of our competitors in many different areas. Using Ignition and taking real-time data from our processes helps us understand our data — which helps us make better decisions.”
The technology platform has made a big difference throughout MKC. “Some of the results we have are in the cost savings realm, and we’ve also seen improved efficiency,” said Johnson. “Before we had Ignition, engineers had to collect data on their own. This would take a long time. Now with Ignition, we’re able to pull that data in and look at it and solve problems very quickly.”
The system can connect to a wide range of devices which has eliminated numerous proprietary roadblocks for MKC.
“The Ignition platform has filled a void for us between multiple manufacturers and platforms,” said Jay Sandvick, senior automation controls engineer at MKC. “It’s given us interoperability that we didn’t believe we could have. We now have accessibility to data streams we didn’t have before. And we have the ability to generate seamless reports from machines that were previously thought unconnectable.”
Dotti Jacob, industrial integration engineer at MKC, has also been impressed with the platform’s ability to connect. “Ignition has been a lifesaver in allowing us to use different programming languages, and tie into all sorts of different systems, without being held back by proprietary issues,” she said.
The platform’s interoperability has allowed MKC to streamline its systems. “Before Ignition, we were reliant on various software packages that were frankly a nightmare to maintain and pay for,” said Sandvick. “With Ignition, we have a single-point interface, a single cost, and it has more than exceeded our expectations in talking to various machines.”
Remote access has been greatly improved. “Before, if I was at a different facility and there were troubleshooting issues, I would have to travel there to help out,” said Jacob. “Now that we have Ignition, I can access the SCADA from anywhere and see in real-time actual images of the different machines and what they’re doing which is very helpful for troubleshooting. Having real-time data we can access from anywhere allows us to see and address the issue more quickly than we could in the past–which saves us time and money.”
Customers see data
More than ever before, MKC’s customers want to know how their products are being produced.
“Data access is something that our customers are no longer just asking for; it’s becoming a requirement of doing business,” said Sandvick. Ignition allows MKC to share data with customers, no matter where they’re located.
“Our customers really enjoy the ability to see real-time data on their products being produced,” said Scott Sargeant, vice president of sales for MKC. “It allows them to understand things without having to travel to our location — which of course saves them time and money. We’re talking about a paradigm shift in information sharing. It really gives our customers a window into the production environment. And our ability to provide this helps differentiate Madison-Kipp from other manufacturers.”
MKC’s customers now have more knowledge about the process than ever before. “In the past, our customers weren’t able to understand what variations we had in the process, or just how efficient the process was,” said Sargeant. “Now our customers can see that data, can understand impactful events, downtime, and other important issues in production.”
Ignition can use CAD drawings of the plant floor as the background for screens. The screens show real-time movement of robots, so operators always have an accurate view of
“Before, we had to use these cookie-cutter images that were not very accurate to what was actually happening on the floor,” said Jacob. “Now we’re able to take a CAD drawing of the equipment, and it can move in real time with however the equipment’s moving, and that’s very helpful.”
Jacob said Inductive University has also been a big help. The free online educational center has hundreds of videos and allows users to learn at their own pace. “When I started with Madison-Kipp, I’d never heard of Ignition,” said Jacob. “I was able to get up to speed very quickly because Inductive University has videos that teach you anything you need to know in order to be successful using the software.”
With positive results in so many different areas, Madison-Kipp plans to expand its use of Ignition. “Strategic initiatives are vitally important for any organization,” said Johnson. “When we set our initiatives for 2020 on the technology side, Ignition is one of those strategic initiatives that’s going to help move us forward this year.”