Case Study: Chocolate Manufacturing Company

A world-leading chocolate processing company (privacy requested) uses the Canary System to log data from OPC servers and then trend that data within their HMI displays.  By providing real time data trends to their HMI displays, they are able to monitor critical processes ensuring top product quality and manufacturing efficiency.
A world-leading chocolate processing company (privacy requested) uses the Canary System to log data from OPC servers and then trend that data within their HMI displays.  By providing real time data trends to their HMI displays, they are able to monitor critical processes ensuring top product quality and manufacturing efficiency.

Key Data Collection Points for the Chocolate Manufacturing Process

In cocoa processing the drying process is critical.  To properly control this process, the monitoring of various oven temperature critical control points (CCPs) are required.  This supervision ensures the oven remains within the ideal temperature zone for proper drying.  If the process varies outside this zone, then action is required to divert the product off the production line.

Also monitored is the conveying pressure; the pressure it takes to convey the dry powder out of the system.  This indicator is critically important to the control operator as too high of a pressure indicates the product is either too wet or the oven temperatures are too low.  Either result requires immediate action to maintain product quality.   

Similar to food and beverage process manufacturing environments, various components of the operation are tracked for uptime, raw material usage, total production numbers, and specific component 'state' times.  These variables are useful in total, as well as when viewed through a production shift and production start time lens. 

Using the Data Historian to Make Better Decisions

The application of collected data is key.  The Canary System has made it easy for both control operators and management to quickly visualize data that can be acted upon to ensure product quality and production uptime.  Operators can monitor critical control points in real time with the added context of historical data.  This allows the operators to make faster data-backed decisions.  Supervisors and quality control experts can see if the product went through all stages of the manufacturing process correctly.  They can also determine if the operator performed the proper functions in a timely manner.  The Canary software has been a tremendous help with the operators log.  It holds the operators to a high standard and aligns the entire team.

Problem solving is easy to diagnose with Canary trending applications and quickly highlights potential issues for busy operators.  For instance, if there are multiple, possibly minute, drops below a critical control point, operators may miss these occurrences, especially if they are pulled between multiple screens or physical locations of the plant.  Using Canary, total time below set points can be calculated and displayed in real time as well as correlated to particular batches of the process.  This important data feedback loop provides great value in not just maintaining product quality but also avoiding costly future downtime.   Canary has helped this organization to better understand when and why certain events happen which in turn has prompted the company to add measures to their process that has resulted in a more effective implementation.


Asset Monitoring and Comparison

A specific example of how Canary trending was used in asset monitoring can be found in the cocoa drying process.  Several large vessels are used to bring the mix to a specific level of moisture content.  A plant operator can use Canary to compare each vessel to the group, looking for different characteristics.  Doing so, they can determine problems with the heating of the vessel or whether it is pulling the same vacuum as the other vessels.  A user can’t see this looking at gauges or numbers, but with the overlaying of trend lines, it becomes readily apparent as each vessel should have a similar profile even though the data values may be different.  If the patterns deviate, then something is wrong.  Now that a potential problem has been identified, the reason must be determined. 

Is it a maintenance issue? Are the condensation lines blocked or not flowing correctly?  Is the proper amount of heat going to the process line?  The operator sometimes will not pick up on these causes because these problems develop over a relative long process.  Startup takes hours and the operators will miss these nuances without historical trend data.


The Canary software was used in the following ways: The software pointed at maintenance problems, vacuums aren’t as low as they should be.  Water temperatures were higher than they should be.  By looking at the Canary trends, these things jump right out at you.  Look at the profile. Overlay trend lines. Compare.  See profiles and blimps. These things manifest themselves in the product.  The color is not right. The moisture content is not right. The alkaline is off.


The Canary software answers the questions of why.  It has been a tremendous help to the end-user.  Future needs are to move data from the production floor to the front office.  They want to utilize the use of historical data in a spreadsheet and use the Canary Excel Add-in product.


When temperature shoots off the chart, maintenance knows they need to replace the sensor or change the transducer.  Canary software brings out a log of good things happening in the process.


One time on a Sunday afternoon at 1:30, engineers noticed oven control problems.  Operators were claiming that nothing of significance happened at that time but the Canary client applications were showing something different.  After pressing the operators, it was found out that they double charged a mixer adding 2 times the amount of solution needed.  The product was too wet but made it through the system.  They eventually were able to track the product and pull it from the system.


With the Canary system in place, users were able to better tune the vessels and reactor temperatures.  They determined the product was getting too hot and it was taking a lot of energy to cool the product. They were able to drop the product temperature and allow the process to naturally cool versus sending it through a cooling system.  They were running it hotter than it had to be and determined a more efficient way to get the results they were looking for.  They ended up self-regulating the system by trimming and putting temperature limits on the process.


The system integrator on this project commented that the Canary software has worked well wherever the product has been deployed in his applications.  He especially appreciates the file management services and customer care that Canary gives.


To learn how you can use the Canary software products to improve your process, contact us below.

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