As SugarCreek continues to grow, it needs its automation system to grow with it.
That’s an achievable goal for the privately-held protein processor, which is on pace to hit $1 billion in annual revenue in the near future. The company has invested in the technology and the people necessary to implement a comprehensive, effective automation strategy to both meet current demand and support future growth and expansion.
One of those technology investments is the Ignition industrial application platform, which SugarCreek has leveraged over the past eight years for MES, alarm notification, reporting, monitoring and control of its refrigeration and wastewater systems, and more. Since moving to Ignition, one of the key lessons the company has learned and now applies to its future projects is the importance of the right tool for the job.
“What we've kind of run into is that we figured out that we can do anything with the platform with the right programming resources and with the right scope of the project,” says Dan Stauft, Director, Operational Technology. “A lot of the stuff that we did early on was we threw something together and just threw it out to the end user to say, ‘Is this going to work?’ Because they didn't know what they wanted. They didn't know the capabilities. So, we just kind of fed them with examples of what it could do. And then we kind of pared down to the important stuff.”
By paring down to the important stuff, SugarCreek is able to focus on what capabilities its employees really need, how those employees need to access those capabilities and how to collect and manage data to improve its operations. But to do that, it has to focus on defining the right tool for the job.
“What's the right tool for the job? It's not always a hammer,” says Stauft. “And that's the trick.”