Modernized distributed controls boost speed, efficiency and safety

Phased upgrade was completed days early and did not halt production for technology company.

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Dow Corning, a global leader in silicon-based technology, sought to modernize the distributed control systems at its Carrollton, Ky., plant. Aiming to complete the upgrade in one week, Dow Corning and its controls provider finished two days early, offsetting project costs with additional production and revenue.

“We worked closely to develop a strong action plan that enabled us to modernize our distributed control system and take better advantage of new, value-focused technology solutions,” says Chris Wolfschlag, project manager at Dow Corning. “This was a difficult project because we only had one week to perform the upgrade, but by working as a team, we were able to complete the project much sooner than anticipated. Bringing the system back online faster gave us two full days of extra production, which positively impacted our bottom-line performance.”

Working in tandem, experts from its controls supplier (Schneider Electric,) helped upgrade the existing control system in phases. The team retained much of the initial infrastructure, including its human-machine interface, field wiring and documentation, which prevented any need for a complete system shutdown or any halt to production. This plug-and-play approach helped Dow Corning reduce its capital expenditure by approximately 50%, as well as complete the upgrade in less than a week.

The new controls consist of an IoT-enabled, open and interoperable system architecture and platform for connected products, edge control and apps, analytics and services. The system’s architecture enables scalable design and operation of connected systems with best-in-class cyber security built in at every layer.

“Modernizing helps us improve how we control the efficiency, reliability and safety of our operations, in real time,” Wolfschlag says. “Because it gives us better visibility into the financial and business performance of our operations, we are better able to evaluate how our decisions and actions impact our overall operational profitability.”

The upgrade was intended to speed project execution and reduce engineering, operating and inventory costs. Additionally, through the project management, cabinet design, factory acceptance testing, start-up and additional modernization services provided, Dow Corning expects productivity to increase as well.

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About the Author
Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.
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