Upgrading Hardware and Software Infrastructure at the Unilever Plant in Haifa
Afcon completed an extensive project to upgrade the hardware and software infrastructure at Unilever’s Haifa plant. The solution proposed by Afcon included the upgrading of old hardware to modern Quantum hardware, and transferring the old software that had been written using Modsoft to the latest software, in line with IEC standards.
Unilever is a multinational corporation that owns major food, beverage, household and personal care brands. Its plant was running a control system based on the Modicon hardware (800 Series), as well as P-Cim user interface systems (developed by Afcon) running on 27 computers at the plant and its facilities.
The project’s main challenge was the plant’s obsolete hardware, which was impossible to service and no longer under warranty (Schneider Electric). It was clear that the existing interface software could not run on Windows 7/8. Therefore, the engineering team consulted the plant manager regarding the possibility of replacing or upgrading the system.
Afcon’s engineers proposed a solution that included design, implementation, and upgrading the old hardware to modern Quantum hardware, plus handling control panels and adapting them to the new series, without any need to produce new panels. At the same time, it also transferred the old software that had been written using Modsoft to the latest Unity software, in line with IEC standards (including optimization and adaptation, testing and operation).
In addition, Afcon is currently upgrading all of the plant’s software systems based on P-Cim, which are installed on 27 computers, to the latest Pulse version, including the adaptation of menus and reports, as well as the construction of a fiberoptic telecommunications infrastructure and new communications cabinets in a star configuration. This is so that the control network will be independent from the plant’s network and permit authorized access to system interfaces from any station and location.
Adina Hertz, who manages the North Branch, says that she was given the opportunity to return to the plant where she had previously worked on a number of system applications. “Returning to lead such a large upgrade involved meticulous planning and implementation that drew on all of Afcon Control’s capabilities as a leading integrator. The work was carried out in cooperation with the plant’s managers and staff, in order to provide this important strategic customer with modern, highly reliable hardware and software.”
Hertz explained why the customer had chosen Afcon: “Unilever’s experience working with Afcon Control’s North Branch over the years, our availability and proximity to the plant, their satisfaction with our technical solutions, and the reliability of our equipment led its managers to select Afcon Control as the natural choice for this project.”
Hertz concluded by mentioning that Afcon’s capabilities as a supplier, planner, software house, and service provider allowed it to handle and manage such a large, complex project with almost no extended downtime, for a plant that operates six days a week.