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May 2020 newsletter

It is inspiring under these difficult conditions to see how well our employees, customers and suppliers are responding and adapting. At DSL we continue to progress current projects and develop the AutoPilot4Feed feed and grain software capabilities. Some of our new developments are outlined further on. In our office we are progressing plans to achieve social distancing for a time when we can move more staff back. Meanwhile we, like many of our customers, are learning in some respects a better way of working including the benefits of video conferencing.

OEE4Feed improvements

DSL’s OEE4Feed web-based plant performance monitoring facility continues to be developed with further enhancements. This includes a view of finished product bin contents, user manual on-line and idle time monitoring as well as the original stoppage time. These updates are in the process of being installed at all sites with an OEE4Feed subscription. The full details of what’s new are available on our web site on the following link; www.dsl-systems.com/whats-new-in-oee4feed/.

Training videos

We have continued to expand our range of on-line training videos. There are now tutorials on material weighing tolerances and barcoding. These can be accessed from our web site using the following link; www.dsl-systems.com/training-videos/. We have also developed a menu option for AutoPilot4Feed to allow these training videos (or any other video) to be viewed. This is secure and will only allow access to the specified video.

Customer remote testing

We have set-up a new secure virtual network within our office specifically for customer access to their systems in development or for acceptance testing. This allows customers to access their new or modified system remotely for acceptance testing or operator familiarity. Please liaise with your DSL project manager for details.

Remote installation / PLC modifications

Changes and updates to the AutoPilot4Feed system can mostly be performed remotely. For example, changing routes, adding equipment control, improving reporting, adding new fields or enhancing monitoring. Normally, this can even be performed while the mill is running. However, sometimes a change to a PLC program is required where additional modules for new signals are required and spare capacity is not available. For new ethernet types of PLCs it is possible to install the PLC programming software on the site control server to enable this type of modification to be performed remotely. For older types of PLCs that require a programming cable it is possible for customers to purchase these and install the programming software on a laptop. Please call us to discuss the possibilities.

Raw material bag stock reconciliation

A new facility has been developed for checking bag stocks and lots, particularly for drugs or expensive ingredients so that their usage and stock can be verified. This would be a regular activity of placing the required bags on a platform scale and checking the stock is correct. The actual stock can then be compared with the theoretical and any differences investigated. Lots can be reconciled or scrapped with full details recorded in the audit log. A reason code is prompted for if the stock change is outside of a preconfigured tolerance.

Manual weighing improvements

A new improved loss in weight mode for hand additive weighing has been introduced in the latest version of AutoPilot4Feed. This involves placing the bag on a platform scale and removing the required amount of material into a container. This technique has several advantages as material can be placed back in the original container without contamination risk and the bag can be check weighed before weighing starts. The system can also now deal with barcoded containers removing the need to print out a label. The previous contents of the containers are recorded and can be recalled.

Dedicated bins for product with medication

Finished product bins can now be dedicated to medicated products. When a production run is started for a medicated product, only bins dedicated to medication will be allowed. These rules are of course in conjunction with the normal bin selection rules. This is an extension to the dedicated organic and GM product bins facility.

Warehouse Stock Tracking

We continue to expand the facilities in our Warehouse Stock Tracking facility. This now includes Raw Material Purchase Orders where raw materials are received into the warehouse, checking that the correct items arrive and integrating with your back-office system. The system also now caters for different bag sizes for the same base raw material, special hidden bays and a message system for Fork Lift Truck drivers.

Global changes

It is often necessary to change product settings across all products or a range of products, for example changing mixer times. This can involve quite a laborious task going through every product setting. A utility is available on most versions of AutoPilot4Feed that can be used to perform global changes providing the range of products, for example, can be identified. This utility is potentially risky, so it is best to contact DSL support to perform this task for you.