Factory upgrade safeguards long term gelatine production

Gelatine is a multitalented ingredient for countless applications. Food applications are perhaps the best known examples but they’re not the only ones with pharmaceuticals, emergency medicine and photographic films also utilising gelatine products.

To help safeguard future production of a large-scaled gelatine manufacturing plant, an innovative risk management approach was undertaken to identify and subsequently replace legacy equipment with minimal interruption to the production process. 

Safeguarding gelatine production

The existing legacy distributed control system (DCS) was over 15 years old and although it was still in operation, a malfunction or breakdown during the process presented a significant production risk.

An assessment of new technologies identified that the Rockwell Automation PlantPAx system was the most appropriate choice for this application.

READ: Rockwell Automation helps an iconic Australian biscuit manufacturer with plant upgrade

The PlantPAx process automation system connects process, discrete, power, information and safety control into one plant-wide infrastructure, leveraging EtherNet/IP as its backbone. As a result real time information is readily available throughout the enterprise.

Innovative project execution

In the first stage of this project, the Rockwell Automation Global Solutions team were engaged to conduct a Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) specification.

“We conducted a thorough site audit at the plant and documented the existing system and current processes,” explained Sean Doherty, Rockwell Automation.

To address concerns around risk mitigation, an additional level of testing was introduced for the system with detailed Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT).

Smart commissioning

When replacing a legacy DCS system, if the field wiring is replaced simultaneously a significant risk is introduced.

“In this instance to have someone disconnect 4000 wires and manually reconnect them, the odds are that some may not be connected correctly and you would then need to test every single field connection,” explained Doherty.

“To avoid this, we developed an IO adaptor card to allow us to remove the old DCS and module and replace it with our proprietary designed module so we could signal through our system without having to change the IO wiring. This reduced the changeover time significantly,” he said.

Straight to A-grade quality

This project highlights the importance of careful planning and risk mitigation. From the initial stage of documenting existing functionality to testing and commissioning, the new system was integrated seamlessly and three days ahead of schedule.

Within a turnaround time of approximately four days, it was a smooth transition and the factory continued with manufacturing A-grade quality gelatine.


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