Dutch Cocoa Enhances Process
Dutch Cocoa, a leading producer of high-quality cocoa products for the global chocolate, dairy, and cosmetic industries, operates a state-of-the-art cocoa factory in Amsterdam. They process cocoa beans from Africa, South America, Central America, Southeast Asia, and Brazil into cocoa mass, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter, which are then exported worldwide. As part of the Ecom Agroindustrial Corporation Ltd, Dutch Cocoa is affiliated with six cocoa processing and production facilities worldwide. Lennert Bonnema, Senior Process Engineer, has been with Dutch Cocoa for nineteen years and plays a crucial role in automation and process improvement across all Ecom factories.
The Collaboration with CoNet
CoNet, a trusted automation solutions provider, has been working closely with Dutch Cocoa since the construction of their Amsterdam plant in 2004. Siemens PCS7 emerged as the preferred automation system during the pilot phase, and CoNet successfully implemented it. Over the years, CoNet engineers have provided system updates and assistance with automation challenges. They were also involved in major expansion projects in 2008 and 2013. Bonnema highlights the long-standing relationship between Dutch Cocoa and CoNet, as the latter possesses an in-depth understanding of their factory.
The Need for Enhanced Insight
Dutch Cocoa recognized the need for better process insight to optimize their operations and increase capacity utilization. The company aimed to reduce their reliance on written reports, which generated excessive paperwork and consumed valuable time. To address these challenges, Dutch Cocoa sought a solution that would enable them to export PLC data and seamlessly integrate it into their reports. CoNet explored various standard packages but found that none fully met this critical requirement. However, CoNet’s software engineer, Jeroen Weemhoff, was determined to develop a custom tool that would bridge the gap. After demonstrating the tailor-made solution, Dutch Cocoa was impressed with the results, as it surpassed their expectations.
The Benefits of the Custom DataWriter Solution
Implementing CoNet’s SQL DataWriter brought numerous advantages to Dutch Cocoa. The tool simplified the process of populating the SQL database with essential process data, empowering the team to leverage Microsoft’s standard tools for data analysis. Previously, Dutch Cocoa had to rely on CoNet for specific information, but now they can independently access and manipulate data, including selecting, merging, and visualizing it. This newfound capability allows them to make processes easily understandable and transparent to all stakeholders.
Achievement of Goals
Dutch Cocoa had set two primary objectives: replacing written daily reports and streamlining production inventory reporting. Both goals have been successfully achieved. The digital daily reports have proven to be more reliable than their manual counterparts, and Dutch Cocoa intends to transition fully to digital reporting. Moreover, the automated inventory checks occur every hour instead of every eight hours, resulting in substantial time savings and increased accuracy.
Exploring New Possibilities
As time has progressed, Dutch Cocoa has continuously discovered new possibilities with CoNet’s solution. They are currently developing department-specific dashboards that visualize daily performance. The ability to generate graphical representations and visuals allows for easy interpretation by all stakeholders. Real-time insights into the efficiency of production lines have become readily accessible, enabling the team to monitor and address any issues promptly. Detailed machine-specific and department-specific breakdowns provide valuable information, such as the activity of the press department over the past 48 hours. Additionally, the system enables effective tracking and tracing of cocoa beans from silos to production processes. Dutch Cocoa acknowledges that the potential applications of the solution are vast and intends to explore them further.
Outcomes and Future Outlook
The results achieved have exceeded expectations, leaving Dutch Cocoa highly satisfied. With a relatively modest investment, they have gained extensive process insights. The user-friendly Microsoft environment allows for easy navigation and comprehension. Currently, efforts are underway to familiarize more employees with the system, as their feedback contributes to ongoing improvements. The organization is embracing the system, with leaders expected to proactively utilize the data to support decision-making. While the implementation is still in its early stages, Bonnema is confident that CoNet’s custom DataWriter will contribute to making the production process more efficient and sustainable.
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