GE Intelligent Platforms today announced that its Proficy® Software platform has been chosen by Kao Brands of Cincinnati, Ohio for a complex batch execution system in primary operations across its many consumer products. The company is looking toward improved quality, decreased cycle time in the process and implementation, increased versatility, testing and reduced commissioning time for its production lines.
Kao Brands, a global manufacturer of premium beauty brands including Jergens, Ban, Biore, Curel, Guhl and John Freida, prides itself on innovation and quality. Therefore, when the company added new equipment or implemented different procedures, they realized that they needed a system that was both agile and secure to allow optimizing the manufacturing of many different recipes on the same equipment.
Over the last seven years, Kao has expanded its operations globally, particularly in Europe and Australia. In March 2009, new equipment was added to accommodate the additional needed capacity. This increase in sales had necessitated using outside contractors to fulfill product commitment. The company saw value in cost savings and quality improvement while protecting the confidentiality of recipes by bringing that manufacturing capacity back to the plant. Kao produces many different products and SKUs on the same equipment and packages those products on the same lines.
“This was a logistical problem,” said Andy Pickens, Engineering Manager for Kao Brands’ Cincinnati plant. “With three major production areas – making, storage and packaging – producing many products with the same equipment and having to validate cleanings between products, results in a complicated system. We needed to continue to provide high quality products but with more agility to address the increased capacity requirements.”
Kao’s control system is complex and its PLC platform was driving the operation. Many operations are interconnected and if a change in one system was made through the PLC, due to sequencing, it could have an adverse effect on another operation down the line. The team thought that, due to the rate that things change, they needed a solution that would allow them to develop PLC code once and not have to change it with each tweak to the process. Kao implemented Proficy Batch, a powerful and feature-rich solution used to increase product quality, consistency and efficiency, and Proficy Historian to capture high-resolution process data enabling true process visibility.
The Proficy solution was implemented on the new equipment and now the team is implementing on all equipment. “We now change recipes more quickly and more reliably,” said Pickens. “Changes that used to take days to implement are now taking hours instead.”
Kao isn’t stopping there, according to Pickens. The company would like to use the data collected by the Proficy Software solution for process improvement. “We are working to optimize what is a good time for each step of every product we make,” he said. “We would like to see what the impact any manufacturing bottlenecks have on the schedule made by the production team, and adjust our schedule dynamically to compensate.”
“Kao Brands is a great example of how companies achieve efficiencies by laying a solid foundation of reliability and predictability,” said Erik Udstuen, Vice President of Software & Services for GE Intelligent Platforms. “Operational excellence starts with visibility into operations, moves to efficiency, reliability and then, by standardizing work processes, improving planning and execution across the company results in a sustainable competitive advantage for the company in the marketplace.”
About GE Intelligent Platforms
GE Intelligent Platforms (ge-ip.com) is an experienced high-performance technology company and a global provider of software, hardware, services, and expertise in automation and embedded computing. We offer a unique foundation of agile and reliable technology providing customers a sustainable competitive advantage in the industries they serve, including energy, water, consumer packaged goods, government & defense, and telecommunications. GE Intelligent Platforms is headquartered in Charlottesville, VA.