November 25, 2021

User Story: How to avoid the PLC nightmare in the factory?


Every factory knows the challenge of PLC. PLCs (Programmable Logic Controller) are installed in various automated equipment, and there are many different types of PLCs with different programming language. Due to these differences and the complexity, it is very difficult to update existing PLC programming to add new features.

One of the Blackbird customers in the pharmaceutical industry was struggling to update existing PLC controllers to get machine efficiency data. They wanted basic counting values, OEE, downtime, error frequency etc. The existing systems were programmed for production and not for data collection and statistics. It is practically impossible to have engineers to update every single different programming in the machines to get these necessary data. On top of this it is hard to get engineers and technicians with the special competences these days.

The customer has several sites in the U.S.A. and Europe, and like many companies they had become a bottleneck for their customers. Their production was not catching up due to the lack of staff and increase in demand. Therefore, it became even more crucial to analyze the manufacturing efficiency across the factories with the same standard to avoid being the bottleneck. Additionally, they also needed to be able to catch up to the demand and delivery.

The customer got to know the Blackbird system and the easiness of a plug and play, non-invasive bolt-on solution. They realized that they could add data collection and analytics to the PLC functionality without any changes and without any engineering needed in the factories.

The Factbird solution could be added without any influence on the existing set-up, which is why they choose Blackbird. Now they have the data from the production machines available in real time for statistic and analytics.

After they saw how easy the installation was, they added more lines to the system across their factories globally. No re-programming and no big IT project were needed, no matter where the factories are located and no matter what types of PLCs are in use. No pain and no project delays. The machines across different sites are now communicating with the Blackbird cloud solution in real-time.

The customer has stared the journey of having real time data from the plants and started to use the data for improvements. They used to be a bottleneck to their customer. However, now they can even share the status with their key customers, which makes the whole value stream more efficient and seamless.

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