Specialty Fats and Oils

By 14 July 2014

Oleo-Fats in the Philippines is the number one supplier of specialty fats and oils to the country’s food industry. Their site is essentially a refining process for the feedstock, which comes as “crude” coconut oil as well as other vegetable oils. The processing steps include degumming, neutralization, bleaching, and deodorization. “Straight” oil is then sold as a frying product, or undergoes further processing to realize other products such as ice cream and soft candy, hamburger buns, and other baked products.

Three years ago the company started to look at automation as a way of achieving improved ease of operation. Instead of staff going up and down the floors looking at gauges and opening valves, the company wanted to remotely monitor and control from a single location. For plants PRP 1 and PRP 6, the decision was taken to use digital PROFIBUS PA devices for the process instruments. PROFINET controllers were deployed, with SCADA OS redundant servers and clients, and proxies for fieldbus integration.

oleo_2The extensive use of PROFIBUS PA for the likes of mass flowmeters, radar level transmitters, pressure transmitters and modulating valves makes the Oleo-Fats site one of the most significant PROFIBUS implementations in South East Asia. And while PROFIBUS PA instruments are more expensive Oleo-Fats believes that the lower installation costs and the longer-term asset management benefits are well worth the investment.

Modernizing plant automation reduces risk of failure and standstill and PROFINET enables easy communication setup at higher performance with enhanced diagnostics. Operational functions now include automatic ratio control for more consistent product quality and lowered costs. There’s real-time monitoring of critical process parameters, such as pressure, temperature and flow rate, with alarms actuated automatically. As Oleo-Fats plant manager Gerry Guanlao OleoFatsarticulates: “Now, if something is wrong, you know about it straight away just by looking at the operator screen. Having that information right before you has really been the number one benefit, I believe.” Roughly 12 million pesos was invested into automating PRP 3 and PRP 5. This was recouped in just nine months through greater product consistency and less plant downtime. Next steps include implementing manufacturing execution system to provide a level of management information.