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    Customer Story: RCL Foods

    CONNECTED from field to facility

    Leading South African food producer uses EcoStruxure™ Plant to help modernise and digitise ageing sugar mill.

    Discover EcoStruxure+ Lifecycle Services
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    Your first step to profiting from PLC migration

    Read “Breaking Through the PLC Migration Cost-justification Barrier” – the first white paper in our series, designed to help manufacturers and municipalities evaluate their need for PLC upgrades and implement them with success.

    Learn more
    • RCL Foods Smart manufacturing for the sugar industry

      South African food producer's modernisation and digitisation of its ageing sugar mill with EcoStruxure Plant has led to an increase in throughput of up to 20%, helping them become more efficient and reliable to stay competitive.

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    Your first step to profiting from PLC migration

    Read “Breaking Through the PLC Migration Cost-justification Barrier” – the first white paper in our series, designed to help manufacturers and municipalities evaluate their need for PLC upgrades and implement them with success. Learn more

    Discover EcoStruxure

    Learn how your business can achieve success with EcoStruxure: Innovation at Every Level.
    Explore more

    The Challenge

    Founded in 1960, Durban-based RCL Foods has over 20,000 employees across three core divisions — Consumer, Sugar and Milling, and Logistics. Its Pongola mill, located in the north of the KwaZulu-Natal province, is one of three sugar mills which collectively produce over 544,310.8 tonnes of sugar a year.
    Its obsolete DCS system for the juice preparation and crystallisation areas of the Pongola sugar mill was in desperate need of an upgrade. They experienced extensive downtime, breakages and stoppages, including 33–40 blackouts a season. Their dependence on external resources for any maintenance also caused extended production losses due to slow response times. RCL's modernisation was designed to achieve:
    • Improved uptime and reliability
    • A scalable and expandable solution
    • More operational information
    • Empower the workforce to improve decision making
    • Process control optimisation
    • Access to local support and expertise
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    The Solution

    Connectivity and Efficiency with EcoStruxure™ Plant
       Apps, Analytics and Services: AVEVA industrial software*: System Platform, Historian, Historian Client, InTouch HMI (Remote Client)
       Edge Control: Modicon M580 PAC, M340
       Connected Products: X80 I/O, ConneXium network switches, Magelis HMI, Telefast ABE wiring interfaces

    • Complete IIoT-ready EcoStruxure Plant solution, with integrated software and domain expertise provides better data access, visualisation and connectivity to the software.

    • DCS modernisation: System Platform 2014 R2 is used as the supervisory to the juice preparation and crystallisation plant areas of the Pongola sugar mill. Each of these areas uses a level-3 M580 processor, X80 I/O and ABE field interface units. During the project, the scope was expanded and the sugar handling system was added on to the new M580 processor, thereby adding a platform for the expansion of the refinery section of the plant and removing the last bit of the old DCS at the site. Remote X80 I/O was used in a redundant ring with NRP links to fibre to distant substations. Magelis HMIs are used for the local displays in the factory.

    • Partnering for success: To deliver the combined IIoT-ready hardware and software solution, Schneider Electric partnered with Control Software Solutions (CSS), a Master Alliance System Integrator Partner and Certified Wonderware Partner, because of their expertise in innovative and customised solutions and their track record for successfully delivering solutions using System Platform and Schneider Electric PLCs.

    * The Schneider Electric industrial software business and AVEVA have merged to trade as AVEVA Group plc, a UK listed company. The Schneider Electric and Life is On trademarks are owned by Schneider Electric and are being licensed to AVEVA by Schneider Electric.

    The Results

    A reliable and flexible automation system using EcoStruxure Plant, underpinned by the capabilities of the IIoT, returns control to the hands of RCL operators, backed by strong local support.

    • 20% increase in the plant's throughput
    • Improved competitiveness
    • Enabled technology (simplified process optimisation)
    • Modern, high performance PLC system with high availability in RIO and Hot Standby
    • Reduced downtime for better reliability
    • Remote visibility and diagnosis
    • Improved operational information thanks to new software standards
    • Expert local support
    • In-house first-line support
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    "Over the period of implementation, the Schneider Electric system has substantially contributed towards our 20% increase in throughput in the plant. Our vision for the future is to continue modernising the plant in partnership with Schneider Electric and to achieve our mission of 'more food to more people, more often'."

    — Alan Williamson, Manufacturing Executive Pongola Sugar Mill, RCL Foods.
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