Ice cream specialist focuses on reliable operations

Rockwell Automation
Tags: manufacturing, workplace safety

From its base in Denmark, Gram Equipment goes online to troubleshoot and edit programs for plants around the world. Simplified electrical documentation is just one more of the solution’s many benefits.

Located in the south of Denmark, Gram Equipment is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of equipment for industrial ice cream production. The company delivers tailor-made, complete production lines to ice cream producers and other food processing firms looking for integrated solutions. These specially designed solutions include everything from individual assembly lines to complete production plants, mixing equipment and packaging lines. More and more customers are looking for increasingly advanced solutions, as their production processes include complex systems and many specialized functions. Of course, every element in the system must work reliably and with a minimum of downtime.

The challenge
Gram Equipment is currently constructing a very large production line for one of its bigger international customers. When finished, the plant will be able to produce 36,000 units per hour.

Before implementing Rockwell Automation’s Safety solution two years ago, Gram Equipment often experienced problems with traditional safety systems, which comprised of a PLC, a separate safety PLC and a servo system. Staff had to learn how to use three different software programs, and also how to connect the systems so they could communicate with each other. If the plant had to be modified, then this necessitated time-consuming changes to electrical documentation as well as programming changes which could only be carried out by a few, specially trained staff. The customer often had to do more testing, with lengthy test periods as a result.

Now, close cooperation between Gram Equipment and Rockwell Automation has changed all of this. Especially, changes related to Safety zone control are commonly carried out in agreement with the end-user during commissioning.

Communication via EtherNet/IP
Gram Equipment wanted to simplify system complexity and usability and, thus, based its control topology on an Allen-Bradley GuardLogix platform which combines standard and safety control in one platform.

“This saves Gram Equipment cabling and components, but it also saves them the time it used to take to make the systems communicate with each other. Additionally, staff training is simplified and effective as understanding of one platform is now only required. This demonstrates the strength of Rockwell Automation’s Integrated Architecture by combining control, network and safety – all in one product,” says Bjarke S. Petersen, commercial engineer safety, Rockwell Automation.

Combining the three functions allows more staff to modify the plant according to customer wishes – quicker and easier. Now, staff need to learn just one software program, and electrical documentation has been simplified significantly.

The results
Using GuardLogix, Gram Equipment has produced plants that can run up to 30 servo drives with integrated safety (Safe-off ). The system is completely scalable and fully flexible, and individual parts communicate via EtherNet/IP – a great advantage when Gram Equipment works with international customers. Since the standard I/O and safety I/O modules run via EtherNet/IP, troubleshooting and repairs all the way to a foreign plant’s IO points can be carried out from Denmark. This saves both Gram Equipment and their customers time and travel costs. An international service and support agreement between Rockwell Automation and Gram Equipment keeps these costs to a minimum, and is a good example of the close cooperation between the two companies.

“Our cooperation with Rockwell Automation goes back to the mid-1990s and has developed into more than the usual customer-supplier relationship. We work together closely and always have a good dialogue about pros, cons and costs before we choose the solution that works best for us and for our customer,” says John Christiansen, manager, Electrical Department, Gram Equipment.

Rockwell Automation Safety solutions are certified according to international standards, so Gram Equipment can use Rockwell Automation Safety for customers around the world.

In summary, the overriding mission was to construct a new large production line with simplified system complexity and usability, combining standard and safety control in one single platform.

The solutions for this project were:

  • Allen-Bradley GuardLogix Safety controller and processor with built-in safety functions;
  • Allen-Bradley PowerFlex drives and Kinetix servo drives – with integrated Safe torque off;
  • 1791ES CompactBlock Guard I/O;
  • Various safety input devices including non-contact interlock switches, Lifeline cable pull switches and emergency stop devices; and,
  • Ethernet/IP and/or DeviceNet as control network to connect frequency transformers, controllers, I/O modules and HMI-/Scada systems.

The results were:

  • GuardLogix combines PLC, safety and servo functionality all in one product. This saves not only cabling and components, but also the time normally used to get the different systems to communicate with each other.
  • Simplified electrical documentation.
  • Full flexibility and complete scalability.
  • With 1791ES CompactBlock Guard I/O on Ethernet/IP, plant reprogramming and repairs can be made anywhere in the world, from Denmark.
  • Rockwell Automations Safety products conform to relevant safety standards and have third-party approvals.

For more information on Rockwell Automation products and services, visit

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