Nestlé's automation strategy historically was based on process control. This is where Nestlé and other companies in the CPG segment own the technology and make their business. Nestlé was and will be dogmatic about whom they will use for automation technology in the process plants. Also, the way this equipment is used is clearly specified.
In the past Nestlé left the packaging area more or less open. Only the so-called packaging engineering groups were involved. These people mainly focused on packaging materials and packaging design, but never got involved in the automation engineering of packaging machinery directly. Nevertheless, the Nestlé central engineering group can see a lot of benefits in terms of efficiency improvements and improved effectiveness of their packaging facilities, if they take a more active role in the packaging plants. A dedicated engineering group has been established, to take care of Nestlé's packaging environment. This group already identified some key elements that need to be addressed.
Instead of specifying only one supplier, Nestlé has identified Rockwell, B&R, Siemens and ELAU as its preferred suppliers for packaging automation control. That means in the future Nestlé will focus less on one specific control provider for packaging equipment, but will be dogmatic about the implementation of standards and open technologies.
Using the OMAC PackML State Model guarantees a common engineering approach independent of the machine builder and/or control provider. The first step of the implementation is based on the existing libraries for the OMAC PackML implementation of the preferred suppliers and this shows already a lot of benefits and is the base for the proof of concept.
In a second phase, Nestlé will work on a more detailed specification document and together with the technology providers this specification will be reviewed, tested on real equipment and translated into standard, ready-to-use libraries.
Working with different technology providers, raises also the question of a common safety technology standard. Each technology provider is normally pushing its own safety protocol, based on the proprietary communication network. To guarantee that all applications can exchange the safety related information based on one safety network, Nestlé supports the openSAFETY standard. openSAFETY provides one single communication standard for safety application across the board of all technology suppliers.
All these efforts will allow Nestlé to write one detailed specification on how to provide a packaging machine that can be easily integrated into a complete packaging line and the whole Nestlé environment, without being too dependent on the used control hardware.
Source: B&R Industrial Automation Corp.