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CASE STUDY - Ikea Supplier Improves Processes, Adds Universal Communication with MatrikonOPC Solutions

"MatrikonOPC solutions were fast and easy to implement,and they've helped make our production process more efficient and our quality controls more reliable." -Johan Sturve, ITTechnician, SwedwoodAlmhuItAB

Challenge

Swedwood, a leading manufacturer for IKEA, produces about 8 million kitchen fronts a year in its facility in Almhult, Sweden. Business is growing, and extensive environmental controls and batch tracking are essential to achieve the high quality IKEA requires. With dozens of control automation components to manage, the company needed a standardized, redundant OPC platform and a better way to transfer data between its OPC servers and its database.

Solution

The MatrikonOPC Universal Connectivity Server, with plug-ins for Siemens, Mitsubishi, Omron and Modbus, provides universal connectivity with the company's control systems through a single easy-to-use interface. In addition, the OPC Client for ODBC allows Swedwood to exchange data between its OPC servers and its Microsoft SQL Server database. The MatrikonOPC solutions meet the company's current needs and are designed to scale as those needs grow.

RESULTS

• Single interface for all OPC servers
• Smoother operations, with better diagnostics and quality control
• Significantly reduced demands on company's control systems

Production facility seeks common-sense solution

As a leading manufacturer for IKEA, Swedwood has to produce consistently high-quality furniture at an extremely fast pace. At the company's production facility in Almhult, Sweden - one of more than 40 facilities worldwide - 350 employees turn raw materials into about 150,000 packaged kitchen fronts each week.

The Almhult production facility relies on numerous OPC servers and more than 50 programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to closely monitor and control temperature, humidity, air quality and other environmental concerns. Every batch of material that runs through the facility has to be manufactured in
a specific, controlled environment. A single mistake, such as a glue failure, could lead to customer complaints and the need to pull an entire batch from the shelves of IKEA stores all over the world.

To improve operations, Swedwood wanted to establish universal communications with its PLCs while avoiding overloading them with queries from individual OPC clients. A unified platform was needed - one with a single, easy-to-learn interface that would reduce the need for using outside system integrators each time a new PLC was added. In addition, the company needed to make critical data easily available to multiple business units by enabling the exchange of data between its Microsoft SQL Server database and its OPC servers.

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MatrikonOPC solution creates connections

Swedwood considered several solutions to its challenges, before selecting the MatrikonOPC Universal Connectivity Server (UCS) and OPC Client for ODBC (see Figure 1). The MatrikonOPC solutions offered the features and scalability Swedwood needed, along with localized support.

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“We scoured the Web to find out what our options were, and I really appreciated the price and quality of the MatrikonOPC solutions, as well as the well-written user documentation,” said Johan Sturve, IT Technician for
Swedwood. “After some meetings with MatrikonOPC, I also felt confident that
they have good and long knowledge in this area, and skilled personnel.”

The MatrikonOPC UCS provides the cost-effective, single-platform solution Swedwood needed. From a single interface, the company is now able to manage its plug-ins for Siemens, Mitsubishi, Omron, Modbus and other systems. Plus, as Swedwood’s needs grow, the company can easily add additional protocols in just a few steps.

“We will have new equipment coming in, and we’ll want to be able to tie in additional systems,” said Johan. “The ability of the UCS server to scale easily was a major advantage for us.”

Swedwood also used the MatrikonOPC Client for ODBC to exchange data between the company’s control systems and its Microsoft SQL Server database. Doing this allowed Swedwood to archive PLC data exposed by UCS directly into its SQL database and write data from the SQL database back to the PLCs.

The OPC Client for ODBC communicates with UCS via OPC on one side and uses the ODBC protocol to send SQL commands up to the database. Going in the reverse direction allows Swedwood to send production recipes from the database down to the PLCs. Using this solution makes production data available for use in day-to-day operations at the control level while provides business and quality groups with essential performance details as well.

“OPC Client for ODBC is helping us run our operations more smoothly, and it gives all of our business units the information they need to do their jobs faster and with fewer errors,” said Johan.

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Today, the entire MatrikonOPC solution is successfully implemented and operating at the company’s Älmhult production facility.

About MatrikonOPC (a division of Matrikon Inc.)

MatrikonOPC provides software to access device data using the OPC standard. Our promise is to help clients unlock the potential of their data and provide them with vendor-neutral training and superior client care. MatrikonOPC builds close relationships with our customers to gain a true understanding of their business and then attain operational efficiency from both a technical and business perspective.

With offices in Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, MatrikonOPC provides local presence on a worldwide scale. For more information about MatrikonOPC Universal PLC Server and other products and services, visit us online at www.MatrikonOPC.com