Dairy Plant-Wide Control System Upgrade in Less Than 3 Days


Perishable food products, especially in a high-volume, low-margin industry segment, cannot tolerate unexpected delays during the process cycle. Maintaining fresh, high quality product is a must, especially in dairy. For a large dairy manufacturer in the United States, maintaining consistency and absolutely no unplanned downtime is a constant concern.


The objective of this project was to eliminate the risk of production going down as a result of a failed obsolete component of the control system coupled with no system backup and no means of technical support. This would be accomplished by converting six (6) remote racks and 800+ I/O points to a new control platform, integrating a new production server, upgrading network infrastructure, and updating control system documentation.


Riddled with obstacles, challenges started with the lack of accurate system documentation; including control system drawings and network/node Information that was not kept up to date by the plant and its support partner. In addition, program code previously added was not documented.

Our team was also limited to an on-site cutover window of three (3) days for the entire process and CIP control system. Additionally, the “Engine Room [Boiler and Compressors]” could not be shutdown nor interrupted whatsoever.

To address inaccurate documentation, PLC program and configuration files were compared to the drawings to aid in identifying the unknown devices and their locations in the process. Lack of documented programming caused our team to take a deep dive into the code. Logic of the undocumented programming was compared to the programming of similar unit processes in the Plant to try to glean what the devices were and their functionality.

To accommodate additional CIP functionality, we split PLC-5 code into two separate PLC’s, adding extra room to grow as the plant is updated and modified.

Time Constraints

The 3-Day On-Site Cutover window was the most challenging component of the project. Pre-planning made all the difference in this project. To greatly increase the probability of success it was decided to:


Project Coordination
Coordination of Malisko Team Members, network installation team, hardware install team and plant management.

Hardware Testing
Pre-assemble, pre-wire, power-up, configure and test ALL control system components including the 1771-to-1756 I/O chassis assemblies and I/O modules, ControlLogix processors, FTViewSE Server and three (3) Clients.

Server and PLC Configuration
Off-Site load and test all application programs in the processors and server; perform testing to verify all devices were communicating as intended.

Network Construction and Testing
In coordination with Malisko, corporate IT, and the network installation team, new fiber and copper runs were installed concurrently with production, before the cut over date.


Hardware Cutover
Over 800+ I/O point were cutover to ControlLogix and powered on the first day of the commissioning window in addition the server and PLC installation.

Operational Testing and Coordination
Plant maintenance and operations staff assisted the Malisko Team to perform on-site operational testing as soon as each new I/O chassis assembly was in place, wired and powered.

Project Communication
Daily updates and punch list items were distributed between all parties involved including plant management.


Production Support
Malisko Provided onsite production support to assist the plant to startup production.

Remote Connectivity and Support
In coordination with corporate IT, a secure connection was established to provide Malisko with remote connectivity to the pant for future integration and troubleshooting assistance.

The success of this project leaned on a very high level of cooperation among ALL team members executing tasks during the 3-Day cutover. Upfront planning a coordination was integral to the project’s success.


The project was completed and delivered by Malisko Engineering, enabling production to start seven (7) hours ahead of schedule. All panel work for demoing existing legacy hardware and installing the new system components was performed with zero impact to existing hardware, sensors, and systems.

Assuring that all system programming and documentation was updated in addition to maintaining a quick project turnaround enabled better decision making for plant management.

Plant upgrade included new Rockwell Automation hardware and an improved network to provide Malisko and plant partners with remote connectivity to provide timely system support.


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