Siemens MediaService Industries June 2018
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Digitalization as a growth enabler
New networking concept supports growth at Molkerei Ammerland
Wiefelstede-Dringenburg, Lower Saxony/Germany. Approximately 1.7 billion kilograms of milk are processed each year at the Molkerei Ammerland. The dairy has seen sustained growth for many years which means the plant is in a continuous state of expansion. As part of this extension, the production network was modernized. A powerful network infrastructure was built together with Siemens which ensures reliable production and high plant availability and allows for dynamic growth.
The most important aspect of producing fresh products such as cheese is plant availability. Due to the high degree of networking in production, it is absolutely necessary for the production network to provide such high availability. Overall, more than 200 controllers with over 1,000 communication nodes exchange production-relevant data with each other across the whole Ammerland plant. As part of the modernization over many years, the dairy has therefore built a powerful network infrastructure together with Siemens. This is based on a new networking concept by the Siemens Professional Services team and meets all demands with respect to security and flexibility.
Communication concept on a new basis
The dairy has updated the existing network infrastructure with passive networking technology. All communication within production, storage, refrigeration and sewage treatment now runs on powerful fiber-optic data cables. All monitoring and management tasks are undertaken by the Siemens Sinema Server network management software which also provides high network transparency. The network components installed by Siemens include numerous Scalance X switches from the XR-300 and XR-500 families, which are housed in several control cabinets located in separate utility rooms. The Scalance XR528-6M switches form the core of the network with layer 3 functionality, ten Gbps interfaces and matching power supplies. Attached to them are 17 Scalance XR324-4M EEC (Enhanced Environmental Conditions), 19-inch rack switches, which were specifically developed for use in energy systems or other extreme environments. An extremely wide array of redundancy mechanisms, in combination with a clear ring structure enable short reconfiguration time, and provide high availability even in the event of failure.
Server in virtual space
The dairy placed particular emphasis on a strict separation between information technology (IT) and the production network especially for security reasons. However, any necessary communication between these areas had to take place using defined interfaces. The installed network infrastructure ensures a smooth interaction between all processes. In addition to this, a specific constellation was put in place which had not been achieved before in this industry: Instead of numerous PCs in the production area, the plant uses the company’s IT computing center where a wide range of tasks run on virtual machines – including the Siemens PCS 7 process control system. This structure saves money and provides a higher level of system availability and redundancy. In addition, hardware and management resources are better utilized while the entire solution is scalable to support future expansion of the production area.
Commissioning while production is running
In spite of the complete overhaul to the system environment, no production interruptions were permitted at Molkerei Ammerland. The upgrade of the network structure, which happened at the same time as the production area was being extended by 17,000 square meters, was therefore planned professionally. This took place in close collaboration between Siemens and the dairy project team. The network concept with integration into the production backbone and connection to the IT was first developed by the Siemens Professional Services team. This joint effort led to a solution that both parties could be happy with and provides plenty of capacity for future expansions.
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