Integrating Process & Business Systems for Manufacturing Chobani Yogurt

By Craig Resnick

IT/OT convergence is critical today so all operations with a plant can work seamlessly together at all times. There are is no secret formulas for plants to achieve IT/OT convergence and execute IT/OT convergence projects successfully, but rather a dedication to methods and processes that helps companies best align with its own visions to produce great products productively and profitably. This is certainly the case with Chobani, a leading manufacturer of Greek Yogurt and related products.

Chobani Integrated Process & Business System

Hugh Roddy, Vice President Global Engineering & Project Management at Chobani, presented a case history on the company’s IT/OT convergence project at the ARC Orlando Forum. Hugh’s presentation covered several key issues including:

  • what is the difference between IT & OT and the methods of integrating legacy systems with new infrastructure;

  • how to develop internal resources and external vendor partnerships;

  • how to leverage new technology with existing technology to maximize ROI and integrate process and business systems seamlessly; and,

  • how to utilizing infrastructure for energy management.

The goals of the IT/OT convergence project were to increase productivity, reduce downtime, execute faster changeovers, meet and exceed regulatory demands, be dynamic and flexible for growth, maintain product diversity, and support business demands.

To meet the company’s infrastructure and standardization objectives, Chobani leveraged a fundamental global strategy within its controls infrastructure that everything must look the same, behave the same, and feel the same. The trick to accomplish this was focusing on key elements of the infrastructure that directly impact operations. Key areas of infrastructure focus included process automation hardware and programing, such as PLC hardware, HMI Software and standardizing with naming conventions and controls standards. Also, a focus on the network and communications infrastructure, as the communications process was critical to the functionality of the plant not just the daily functions, but startup, testing, expansion to existing locations, remote and local support.

What they did at Chobani was implement a solid network and communications infrastructure with a managed network, full VLAN segmentation, and full control and monitoring. The company chose a process automation network solution provider with expertise and knowledge in not just IT but industrial process controls. The company implemented server and software platforms to support constant and dynamic growth and demand. The company took an out of the box approach to energy management and process tracking using virtual metering and integrating third party systems data to process oriented systems. The Integrating processes and third party systems were now under a single interface and provided collaborative tools for every aspect of company.

Executing the project consisted of leveraging qualified and well trained internal staff as well as partnerships with trusted vendors. Chobani identified mission critical processes and aligned resources with those processes, identified technologies that were critical to the process and solicited vendor expertise in training of core or fundamental support concepts, and leveraged collaboration tools and technology to advance support and project efficiency.

Because of this project, IT and OT now communicate seamlessly together 24/7. With managed networks and diagnostics Chobani is recognizing 99 percent uptime on communications and controls, and empowering people from the ground up. Its power management and virtual metering systems provide immediate cost savings and forecasting for resource planning. Systems integration is allowing collaboration between every department and entity in the company, allowing for more effective communication and data mining and sharing for deterministic planning.

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