At Malisko Engineering, we’re experts in streamlining and maximizing production. We help manufacturers produce more with less hardware, less maintenance, and less downtime. When a global producer of infant and children’s nutritional products came to us with an inefficient, under-producing system, we streamlined their production, lowered their cost per unit and reduced their disaster recovery time from four hours to 10 minutes by decoupling hardware from software.

An inefficient network infrastructure

Before we came into their production environment, this global provider of infant and children’s nutritional products had a system that was letting them down. Their system architecture consisted of ten production areas with individual SCADA servers and 48 thick clients — i.e. full-power computers. Their clients were a mixture of desktop PCs and Industrial Touchscreen PCs that caused high maintenance costs and lengthy disaster recovery times.

If you find yourself needing to scale up your production to keep pace with demand, This client is a prime example of a company that did it right — without throwing away money or taking on unwise risk.

Typical System Architecture for each of the Ten (10) Process Areas, across 48 Clients
Typical System Architecture for each of the Ten (10) Process Areas, across 48 Clients

They asked us to reduce PC maintenance costs, speed up disaster recovery, and provide redundancy at the client level — all without affecting the validated state of the systems. Since this company operates in food production, they are subject to strict FDA regulations, and each aspect of their production and system must have thorough documentation in order to be validated. All of their previous production systems were validated to follow FDA Title 21 CFR Part 11 — legislation that dictates what constitutes acceptable, trustworthy and reliable electronic signatures and electronic records of processes and batches. We ensured their upgraded system met FDA standards.

Virtualization is a powerful solution

We transitioned their system away from many individual, full-power, computers that took up space, required maintenance, posed security risks and lacked redundancy. And we introduced ACP ThinManager and thin clients, allowing this producer to centrally run functions through terminal servers and have redundancy on an additional terminal server. Instead of an unsynchronized collection of separate computers running functions, we integrated a central system that allowed operators to run production functions on thin clients while their session was powered, recorded and monitored on a central server that had full backup.

Pre-implementation work

We believe it doesn’t matter how good automation sounds if it doesn’t work. And in this case, our customer’s greatest concern was establishing an automated production system that worked — on a schedule, on a budget and within regulations.

We set up a proof of concept with a demo version of ACP ThinManager and a single thin client. We determined full compatibility with their existing SCADA system — which carries out the production functions and logs production data — but found their batch system was not compatible. We used our deep integration experience to customize their batch system to keep three batches as thick clients. Then, we evaluated the impact of our work on the producer’s efforts to meet FDA regulatory requirements for system validation.

In one hour on-site, we implemented the demo and proved it worked on one SCADA system. We configured and tested ACP ThinManager, Terminal Servers and thin clients at our office. Then, we used a simulation system to verify that the functionality of SCADA systems was not affected at their production site and conducted Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) at Malisko with our client.

To fully comply with the FDA’s validation requirements, and as part of our comprehensive validation services, we generated Installation Qualification (IQ) Protocols and Operational Qualification (OQ) Protocols for documentation and verification purposes.

On-site implementation

After proving the system would work and a successful FAT, we implemented the final system design over two installation phases. In the first phase, we installed and validated (IQ) the six servers, and upgraded one SCADA system with one thin client, using IQ and OQ validation. This small install of a single thin client gave our client the “warm and fuzzy” that everything worked the same prior to the thin client install.

During our client’s summer shutdown, we installed and validated (IQ and OQs) the remaining thin clients. We completed installation and validation for 48 thin clients across the remaining nine SCADA systems in a remarkable and rapid 4.5 days.

 ACP ThinManager System Architecture
ACP ThinManager System Architecture

Cost saving results with ACP ThinManager integration

We delivered our customer a number of valuable results, including improved process efficiency and consistency and reduced production risk, maintenance and downtime. Our customer received a system that was easier to use with thin clients that could be easily and quickly configured, maintained, replaced and recommissioned.

Using thin clients, we cut the number of PCs and servers that required ongoing maintenance (Windows patches, Anti-Virus updates) from 63 to 21. And ACP ThinManager gave our customer’s technicians the ability to monitor all SCADA systems using a single thin client instead of having multiple thick clients configured to view the status of the production systems.

This has all amounted to reducing disaster recovery time for replacing clients from four hours to 10 minutes. With thick clients, in the event of a failure, the technicians spent a lot of time configuring spares, including Windows updates, application configuration, and “working out the bugs.” ACP Thin Client replacement requires none of that. Prior to the ACP ThinManager installation, there was no level of redundancy at the client level. Now, with ACP ThinManager, in the event of a Terminal Server failure, all sessions will be automatically launched on the backup Terminal Server.

This respected producer of infant and children’s products has enjoyed the benefits of our thin client integration services and is investing in further implementation of ACP ThinManager. We’re experts in delivering savings and maximizing production. Whatever you produce, we can help you make more for less. And our automation experts can show you what may not know is sapping your facility’s productivity. Click below to request an expert review of your production line.