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Make product, make a difference

Dec. 11, 2019
Cleaning product manufacturer Method needed reusable engineering, so it could design once and deploy many

A manufacturer won’t stay in business long without profits, but one Illinois company is making more than money. It’s making a difference. “We’re not just a place to make product. We have an environmental mission,” says Kirk Jaglinski, director of engineering and technical services at Method, manufacturer of cleaning products in Chicago.

“I’ve been in this building helping to build this plant since it was dirt,” says Tony Norman, technical consultant at 100-year-old Revere Electric Supply and functional safety engineer, TUV Rheinland. “The initial deployment was in 2014. Method needed help with automation in the greenfield project. The initial deployment was four compounding vessels, four bulk chemicals and one production line.”

The plant wanted to be manufacturing product by December 31, 2014, and it needed to scale. “That’s a very tight timeline,” says Norman. “Today there are 13 physical tanks, eight bulk chemicals and four production lines.”

Method started off with a SQL-based data collection system. “As you try to pull out data from five years ago, the query can take 20-30 minutes,” explains Norman. Using old data was just one challenge. The lack of skilled labor in the area didn’t help either.

What Method needed was reusable engineering, so it could design once and deploy many. “I want to take a drawing and copy and paste,” explains Jaglinski. “I have a bill of materials (BOM) for my tank, a BOM for my control system. I’ve done the work up front. Harmonized control structure and nomenclature, search-and-replace control code and on/off optionality/functionality means significant labor efficiency and reduced time-to-deploy. That equals money savings.”

IT equipment in the OT space is a five-year lifecycle, explains Norman.

“How do you decouple from the technology cycle?” asks Jaglinski. “VMware has revolutionized that. Now it’s swap it in, and see if it works. ThinManager enables mobile, but it decouples the HMI. It’s a dumb terminal. I can deploy it anywhere I want, on my phone or on my iPad. We have robotics. We have servos. We have pneumatics. We have valves, and all under the same control system.”

Method boasts the world’s first and only LEED platinum certified manufacturing plant in its industry, which includes a wind turbine, PV, solar thermal panels and greenhouses, where you’ll find the largest rooftop farm, a partnership with Gotham Green, in the United States.

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About the author: Mike Bacidore
About the Author

Mike Bacidore | Editor in Chief

Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Control Design and has been an integral part of the Endeavor Business Media editorial team since 2007. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at [email protected] 

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