"Matrikon has the most complete set of drivers in the world, has the most knowledgeable driver developers in the world, and has a sterling track record of customer satisfaction."
Dave Zimmer, Vice President of AspenTech
Stretch Island Fruit produces 100% fruit snacks. Due to the tremendous success they have experienced over the past decade, Stretch Island undertook a project to double the capacity of their Allyn, Washington plant. Heading up the project is Vice President of AspenTech, Dave Zimmer, who teamed up with MatrikonOPC to handle the connectivity requirements.
The scope of the project included facility expansion, integrating additional equipment, optimizing existing equipment and implementing Aspen Technology’s Aspen Manufacturing Suite and Aspen e-Supply Chain Suite software.
Small food manufacturing plants, such as Stretch Island Fruit, differ from large-scale chemical plants and refineries in that each unique piece of equipment has standalone controls and proprietary protocols. To avoid the time and expense of writing numerous proprietary drivers, Zimmer standardized on OPC technology. OPC enabled Zimmer to interface the many disparate systems and collect all of the data into AspenTech’s InfoPlus.21 centralized process information management application.
Matrikon’s OPC Genie was used as one of the primary OPC servers. MatrikonOPC Genie is a configurable OPC server used to interface with simple devices. It enabled Zimmer to connect dryers, wrappers, conveyors, and depositors to InfoPlus.21, whereas previously the equipment was only able to output data to a printer, making it difficult to analyze.
Integration went very smoothly. Testing was performed using Matrikon’s OPC Explorer client application. As well, Zimmer credits the exceptional work done by Eric Murphy, Matrikon’s OPC Development Manager, and Ryan Plester, a member of the MatrikonOPC support team. "Matrikon was very helpful, professional, and knowledgeable. They recognized I had little experience with drivers and went out of their way to make sure things worked properly," says Zimmer.
Within a week of integration, operational inefficiencies were discovered and quickly resolved. One dryer was not providing the heating expected and more dryers were found to have leaks that resulted in a higher than expected heating demand and inflated energy costs. "I fully expect the MatrikonOPC technology and services to payback in 1 or 2 months," says Zimmer. "I have already made plans for future rollout."
Using MatrikonOPC to provide data to the AspenTech client tools is helping production, quality assurance and maintenance personnel, and senior managers to all make better decisions. "They now have actual production information to base decisions on," says Zimmer. "For instance, we now know which dryers need maintenance and which require improved design and better welds."
"Matrikon has the most complete set of drivers in the world, has the most knowledgeable driver developers in the world, and has a sterling track record of customer satisfaction. My experience was extremely positive, better than with any other software vendor in the process industries. Matrikon is committed to long-term customer satisfaction and employs very smart and professional people. We intend to continue expanding our operation and to use Matrikon wherever possible," says Zimmer.
Stretch Island Fruit was founded in 1976 and is one of the first companies in the U.S. to manufacture and market 100% natural fruit snacks. The company employs more than 80 people and exports their products to Europe, Canada and Japan for annual sales of over $10 million.