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More Bread for your Dough

A modernization of Stapletons bakery increases production by 20%

Despite the decline of the family owned bakery, the value of the Irish bread market continues to grow.  For those bread manufacturers producing a high Quality, consistent product at a competitive price, a shareholding of the Irish market is a valuable asset.  To get a foothold in this market demands modern manufacturing capabilities, which enable real time management.  Stapleton's Bakery based in Roscrea, one of Ireland's leading wholesale bread producers, is an example of one business that has benefited enormously from plant modernization.

Established in 1973, Stapleton's Bakrey currently employs twenty-eight people.  Operating from a 36,000 sq. ft. purpose built manufacturing plant, Stapleton's has an estimated turnover of 2.5M.  All of Stapleton's products are aimed at the retail and catering market.

When Stapletons decided to invest in the new manufacturing equipment, it wanted a technological solution capable of monitoring the entire production process.  Charles Lamb of CBL Services Ltd.  Roscrea cplservices@eircom.net drew up specifications for an integrated control and management system encompassing the following:

  1. Control of batching ingredients by weight and volume
  2. Recording of quantity of bread produced and ingredients used
  3. Recording of Prover and Oven conditions
  4. Control of Bread Cooling Room
  5. Monitoring of energy usage
  6. Monitoring of Plants faults and downtime

Stapletons turned to Garland Instruments for assistance, a Mitsubishi Electric System Integrator and Distributor.

"The brief was to design an easy to use reliable system capable of delivering real time management information to Stapletons.  It also had to be energy efficient and capable of giving Stapletons a return on investment through increased production," commented Pat Garland, managing director of Garland Instruments.  With this in mind, Garland Instruments designed a system underpinned by Mitsubishi Electric's FX2N series of PLCs.

According to Pat Garland, "the special functions of the Mitsubishi Electric FX2N series provide for network interfaces such as CC-Link and Profibus hence the possibility of integrating many different types of equipment onto the one network bus.  While the FX2N allows for flexible control it was necessary for Garland Instruments to utilize other products from the Mitsubishi Electric  Factory Automation range such as the "E terminal" data display and acquisition.  These products were all linked by a MELSEC network which also involved control and monitoring of the Mitsubishi variable speed drives which were responsible for the substantial energy saving realized on completion of the project.  To achieve true transparency, in the production process required SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) software running on an industrial PC to monitor both the operation processes in the plant and the maintenance requirements.  For Stapletons, Mitsubishi's SCADA visualization and control software was chosen.  (see a screenshot of the finished SCADA main screen designed to the requirements of Stapletons management)

Taking advantage of the OPC standard allowing connectivity and integration with 3rd party applications, the SCADA is written in Visual Basic, the same language used for Excel and Word.  The primary function of SCADA is that it provides an overview of the factory floor, allowing the user access to access all of the project from an explorer type environment.  A scheduling feature allows the user to run a routine at a particular time of day or during an event occurring - particularly useful in the food production environment.  Meanwhile, a reporting module 'Report Manager' delivers timely and accurate data from the plant floor to the desktop allowing management to act on a real time basis with accurate information. 

Upon completion of the project a two day training course to selected staff of Stapletons was provided.  Now a year on, the results for Stapletons have been startling.

Joe Stapleton Jnr states " We are delighted with the Mitsubishi Electric Factory Automation solution provided to us by Garland Instruments.  In a competitive market, it is vital that we utilise modern production technology.  Since the installation, our production process has inceased by 20%.  These significant increases in efficiency have allowed us to secure new clients and already the Mitsubishi Electric solution has delivered a significant return for Stapleton's Bakery."