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Glass Bottle Counting

Glass Bottle Counting


Tampa, Fla.-based Anchor Glass Container Corporation (Anchor) is a hallmark name in America’s packaging industry as a leading and longestablished manufacturer of glass containers.

Anchor produces a diverse line of flint, amber, green, and other colored glass containers of various types and designs primarily for the beer, food, beverage, liquor, and consumer product industries.

Anchor is moving forward with an enhanced global capability for its customers and a strong focus on growth. Manufacturing intelligence is a big part of that vision.

As one of Anchor’s eight glass manufacturing facilities, the company’s Shakopee, Minnesota plant is charged with keeping pace with the corporate vision, a task that was challenged by its aging manufacturing technology.

“We had a bottle count system that dated back 25 or 30 years,” says Dennis Strack, engineering service manager at Anchor. “In fact, the screens were no longer working.

To do counts, four production clerks calculated manually, and the system didn’t give us the individual equipment detail necessary to respond quickly to changes on the floor.”

In with the New

Anchor’s system at Shakopee was homegrown, built on top of outdated programmable logic controllers (PLCs). “They needed to replace several of the legacy PLCs doing aggregation of accounts,” says Alan Mosbeck, engineering lead at Savigent Software.

“Those devices were no longer supported— what would happen if they failed? This concern was a key motivator for replacing the old system.”

Another reason was better asset utilization, specifically human assets, the quartet of production clerks whose task was to move among the lines and calculated the number of glass bottles being produced. “

By automating the process, we could repurpose that headcount, as well as get greater visibility into our production,” says Strack. “It was a necessary step.”

According to Strack, Anchor chose Savigent Platform™ to automate the process because it was robust, adaptable, and “looked like it would implement well at our facility.” So in September of this year, the first of six shops (i.e., manufacturing lines) at Shakopee went live with the solution.

The Power of Savigent

The Savigent suite delivers powerful software solutions for workflow automation, manufacturing intelligence, and systems integration. “It enables continuous improvement for the manufacturing environment,” says Mosbeck.

“Continuous improvement is only possible when actionable intelligence is collected and leveraged; Savigent’s products provide manufacturers such as Anchor with the critical information they need to do this.”

The Savigent suite is composed of three elements:

– Savigent Workflow™ delivers a controlled system for workflow automation, providing guaranteed compliance, unparalleled traceability, and rich manufacturing intelligence.

– Savigent Historian™ provides realtime, context-aware data collection, centralized storage, and comprehensive analysis.

-Savigent Platform™ dramatically simplifies the development and management of highly scalable, service-oriented software solutions in the manufacturing environment.

“We’re taking the data from the historian and populating a handoff sheet that is passed along at shift change,” says Judd Knippel, electronics technician at Anchor Glass.

“This gives us an overview of each shop, what each inspection machine is losing (i.e., rejecting), and overall production for each shop.” Strack adds that they also produce a daily report, a 24-hour production sheet.

“Since forming gets a production bonus based on percentage of pack, everyone is interested in this data.”

Call and Response

Both Strack and Knippel give Savigent high marks for responsiveness since they’ve worked to implement the new system. “Every time we call, they’re on top of things,” says Knippel. “They‘re exceptionally fast in responding to our questions or concerns.”

Extending Visibility

Before implementing Savigent’s solution, the system used at Anchor was basically operating in a single room: the production lab in the center of the plant. To get access to any data (compiled manually there), staff had to get to the lab.

“By running Platform, Anchor now compiles faster, more accurate production data, which extends visibility of that data to the shop floor where it is easily accessed via a browser-based interface (Microsoft SharePoint),” says Mosbeck.

“Now they know what’s going on at a glance, from the factory floor to the front office.” According to Strack, the ability to access actionable intelligence is key. “With the Savigent system, production can see out of range or rising defects as they are occurring, identify their root causes, then fix them,” he explains.

“With the old system, this simply wasn’t an option, or was a painfully slow one, due to the inherent latency of data in the manually-based calculation process.” Now they are recording with precision the throughput into the warehouse, as well as understanding better what was rejected before getting there—and why.

“These are significant gains,” says Strack. “Real-time visibility and speed of understanding ultimately leads to a more efficient manufacturing process.” Mosbeck says that beyond solving the immediate bottle count problem, Savigent enables a wealth of opportunity for future savings and improvements.

“We’re starting to talk about how they can leverage workflow,” he says. “Just the beginnings of this dialogue have proven fruitful, as Anchor is now thinking about establishing defined SOPs that were never set or incorporated into the earlier system.”