Machine and Process Management

How Dow Corning upgraded to improve operational efficiency and profitability

Dow Corning’s Carrollton, Kentucky manufacturing site is one of the largest silicone materials production facilities in the world. There they produce silicone fluids, blends, emulsions and intermediate materials vital to many of Dow Corning’s 7,000 products. They use these products in electronics, personal care products, construction, and energy. Upgrading their legacy system with a seamless, low-cost transition to new technology was a big ask.

Bringing innovation to petrochemicals

Changing what already works can be more stressful than replacing what doesn’t. And yet, that is what the team from Dow Dow Corning Upgraded with EcoStruxure PlantCorning set out to do. When components of their current Foxboro distributed control were reaching the mature stage of their life cycle, Dow Corning wanted to be proactive to prevent anything from happening. As such, they planned to upgrade the legacy control and I/O Modules.

Phased approach to bring early production at lower cost

Not only do the risks of failure and subsequent safety incidents increase, but operational profitability is also likely to suffer through decreased throughput. By looking ahead and upgrading to new technology, the team could now improve their operational efficiency, reliability, and safety.

Tasked with ensuring their facility remains current, Dow Corning wanted to provide transparent upgrades. They kept their human-machine interface and documentation in place so that, aside from faster results, the evolution was seamless for operators and engineers. With these requirements in mind, they sought out the Foxboro upgrade experts at Schneider Electric.

Careful planning and proven expertise keep project on track

Concerned a systems rip-and-replace would be necessary, it pleased Dow Corning to learn they could more easily upgrade the systems in phases. This would prevent having to shut down all their systems and stop production for an extended period.

Their existing infrastructure – nose cones, field wiring – and most of their software would remain in service. Schneider Electric and Dow Corning collaborated to draw up new metal 1×8 cabinets (to replace existing plastic IE32’s), housing the new 1×8 upgrade structures configured to match up with existing infrastructure (nose cones) for ease of install. These cabinets would also house the new, more powerful controllers. This plug-and-play approach sped up the timeline significantly while reducing the CAPEX by about 50%.

2019 Digital Transformation Benefits Report

When an unforeseen need required Dow Corning to enter a last-minute change request, the project team was able to adjust on the fly. They completed the upgrade in half the time estimated, thereby avoiding a time crunch.

This plug-and-play approach sped up the timeline significantly while reducing the CAPEX by about 50%.

“All of our pre-job investments paid off, as the system was up and running ahead of schedule,” said Dave Caldwell, Foxboro subject-matter expert for Dow Performance Silicones. Getting back online early granted us two full extra days of production.” Those extra days of production led, of course, to more revenue.

The drive for ongoing operational profitability and safety

What could have been a costly upgrade turned into a seamlessly executed project. It came in under budget and well under deadline. The most difficult part of modernizing an operation is often the decision to do it. But with solid planning and the help from a strong team, much of the risk can be mitigated. Maintaining a consistent user interface and engineering environment reduced the risk of human error as well as any training costs associated with a new platform.

Through proper planning and execution, they looked to the new EcoStruxure Foxboro system to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of their operations. And as a result, enable Dow Corning to realize cost-savings and greater throughput, positioning themselves to drive measurable operational profitability improvements, safely.

To learn more about Dow Corning’s experience with EcoStruxure for Plant, please read the full case study

 


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